NEW YORK, N.Y. – Jimmy Iovine and his boss had been grooming John Janick for two years to lead Interscope Geffen A&M since Beats Electronics continued to grow rapidly with its headphone line and streaming service.
Lucian Grainge — the CEO and chairman of IGA’s parent label, Universal Music Group — said he wasn’t expecting Iovine to leave the company, but knew he needed an executive to handle the label’s daily tasks since Iovine had been so busy — and successful — outside of it.
“That part of it was unexpected,” he said of Iovine’s move to Apple following the announcement Wednesday to acquire Beats Electronic for $3 billion.
“It just became inevitable that strategically we would have to plan for someone to actually run the record company on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “It had always been in my thinking and in Jimmy’s thinking that he would be around pretty much forever in some capacity around Interscope, probably in a non-exec way.”
Iovine launched IGA in 1989. Its roster includes U2, Eminem and Lady Gaga. Janick, who is currently IGA’s chief operating officer and president, joined in 2012, and will officially lead the label later this year.
The 36-year-old Janick, one of the youngest executives to lead a top label, made his stamp on the industry when he founded the independent label Fueled by Ramen in 1996 when he was just 18. He signed the platinum-selling band fun., who had a breakthrough in 2012 with its Grammy-winning sophomore album “Some Nights.”
Fueled by Ramen, distributed through Warner Music, has had success with acts such as Fall Out Boy, Paramore and Panic! at the Disco. Janick also worked at Elektra, another Warner label, when Bruno Mars and CeeLo Green topped the charts.
“He has an instinct capability and a smell on who the people are to support and who the people are to back, and that means both internally on the staff as well as in terms of the signees and the commercial judgments that he makes,” Grainge said.
Universal Music, the home to Def Jam and Republic Records, dominated the music charts last year with acts ranging from Katy Perry to Lorde to Robin Thicke. At one point, it held all 10 spots on the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
Iovine began his career as a recording engineer in the 1970s and mixed Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” He later produced for Tom Petty, U2 and Stevie Nicks. He founded Beats Electronics in 2008 with Dr. Dre.
“To have someone who is a friend and someone who has been a business colleague for so long as part of the Apple architecture is something that is very neat and something I am looking forward to,” Grainge said. “I couldn’t wish and want for him to leave for anywhere else. And by the way, he wouldn’t have left for anywhere else other than Apple.”