He has officially denied the sketchy rumor at the Grammy Museum during a Q&A session related to “The Defiant Ones,” HBO’s documentary about his and Dr. Dre’s colorful careers.
The music mogul told Variety that he remains committed to working with Apple’s Eddy Cue and Tim Cook on advancing Apple Music and whatever else they need him to do.
I am almost 65, have been with Apple for four years and in 2 1/2 years the Apple Music service has gotten to well over 30 million subscribers and Beats has continued its successful run. But there’s still a lot more we’d like to do. I am committed to doing whatever Eddy Cue, Tim Cook and Apple need me to do, to help wherever and however I can, to take this all the way. I am in the band.
“The next chapter, whatever intensity I’m working, will be to help streaming come to scale,” he added. Asked about his personal “next chapter,” he said, “I don’t see myself at 75-years-old running around doing music. Eventually I’ll be slowing down. But right now, I’m committed to getting streaming right.”
He cautioned that technology alone can’t solve the music industry’s problems:
Netflix has a unique catalog, because they don’t buy HBO and they have their own catalog. Then on top of that they have a little thing called $6 billion in original content. HBO has $3 billion, Amazon probably has $4 billion. Well, guess how much original content streaming has: zero! Fundamentally. All the catalogs are exactly the same.
Iovine and Dre became Apple executives reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook following Apple’s $3 billion Beats buy in 2014. Apple paid $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in stock. Iovine says his stock has been vesting in stages since he sold Beats, with the last of it indeed vesting in August, precisely as the original rumor suggested.
“All this stuff you’re seeing in the newspapers, let me tell you, my stock vested a long time ago. We need Donald Trump here to call it ‘fake news,’ he said. “There is a tiny portion of stock that vests in August, but that’s not what I think about.”
The executive also acknowledged that his contract with Apple is indeed set to expire in August, but was quick to point out that he does not plan on leaving the company anytime soon.
The funny thing is, I don’t have a contract. I have a deal, and certain things happen along that deal. The bottom line is I’m loyal to the guys at Apple. I love Apple, and I really love musicians. That’s why those articles annoyed me, because it had nothing to do with reality. It made it out to be all about money.
It’s unclear why it took Iovine days to confirm he’s staying on the team given that the Billboard rumor surfaced five days ago, but there you have it.