Jimmy Iovine realized that music videos were the key to reaching younger music listeners. He founded Beats with Dr. Dre to bring the emotion back to music by bringing back sound quality. They solicited the help of Ammunition and Monster to design, build and distribute the original headphones. They received feedback from top music artists and emotionally invested them into the success of the product. They launched and put Beats into music videos and the artists into their ads. This made the first generation a break out success.
They followed this initial success by expanding their line into ear buds, on ear headphones, over the ear headphones and Bluetooth speakers. Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga, and P.Diddy had their names on custom editions of the headphones. They licensed their brand and expertize to HP and Crysler. HTC purchased a majority stake in them to use their brand on cell phones. They started a music streaming service focusing on quality and curation with mild success. But it has successful enough to attract Apple who bought them for $3.2 B.
Is the Beats success repeatable? Maybe. Iovine’s and Dre’s connections definitely helped launch Beats, but their early success was based on a mission and getting people emotionally invested in that mission. They built a brand with almost no resources and no risk through partnerships. They invigorated an industry through the power of brand marketing alone.