Last week, Interscope Records chairman, now known as Dr. Jimmy Iovine made history with his Beats Electronics partner Dr. Dre, when he delivered a commencement speech for the University of Southern California. As it was widely reported in entertainment publications leading up to, and after it, Iovine and Dre’s highly publicized speech came as part of the two industry leaders innovatively expanding on USC’s curriculum in a way that will cultivate new highly trained talent for Interscope, Beats, and any of their developing subsidiaries, partners, or compactors to benefit from in the future. The music moguls made what was described as higher education history, by donating the third highest educational donation from a celebrity ever in America. Following in the footsteps of high educational rollers like George Lucas, and David Geffen, Iovine and Dre have donated $70 million into what will be Jimmy Iovine & Andre Young’s Academy of Art Technology and Business Innovations.
As soon as we saw this addressed in the speech on YouTube, we had the distinct feeling that, just as Jimmy mentions following in the foot steps of tech greats like Less Valdez of Intel, and Steve Jobs of Apple, he and Dre are also walking an education trail that was blazed by Walt Disney and his personal history with CalArts. This is because, like Iovine and Dre, Walt saw the long-term mutual benefit of investing in talent training through a formal educational institution.
In fact, to us, Disney’s history with Calarts is a blueprint on how modern creative heads like Jimmy Iovine can prepare young talent for their already successful Companies, and still benefit from the innovation that youth and a fresh perspective can bring. Disney started his relationship with what would become CalArts in 1929 as a cost effective way to train quality animators when his fledgling company was strapped for cash. Then, when the institute was later merged into its current form in 1961, Walt and his brother Roy joined the school’s board, and saw to it that the institute played a distinctive part in transitioning new Disney trained talent to his and other mainstream studios. Disney’s original vision for CalArts even sounds hauntingly similar to the goals Iovine speaks of for USC’s new academy. Read Walt’s quoted vision below.
“What young artists need is a school where they can learn a variety of skills, a place where there is cross-pollination. The remarkable thing that’s taking place in almost every field of endeavor is an accelerating rate of dynamic growth and change. The arts, which have historically symbolized the advance of human progress, must match this growth if they are going to maintain their value in and influence on society. The talents of musicians, the self-expression of the actor, and the techniques and applications of fine and commercial artist are being use more and more in today’s business-not by themselves but rather, in close association with each other. What we must have, then, is a completely new approach to training in the arts-an entirely new educational concept which will properly prepare artists and give them the vital tools so necessary for working in, and drawing from, every field of creativity and performance. There is an urgent need for a professional school which will not only give its students thorough training in a specific field, but will also allow the widest possible range of artistic growth and expression. To meet this need is exactly why California Institute of the Arts has been created, and why we all believe so strongly in its importance. Students will be able to take anything – art, drama, music, dance, writing….. It’s the principal thing I hope to leave when I move on to greener pastures. If I can help provide a place to develop the talent of the future, I think I will have accomplished something.”
Disney perused this collaborative approach to education after he watched it successfully applied in his company’s “Imagineering” department that was founded in 1952. Imagineers are expected to blend artistic and technological expertise to creatively break ground in new ways. Sounds similar to Iovine as well right?
Please understand, in no way is our “Disney/CalArts” theory a “diss” to Iovine and Dre’s very generous and probably heartfelt contribution. We applaud it. We’re merely using it as a method to make an educated guess on what these two might be planning for our industry’s future. If you listen to Jimmy’s speech, you’ll hear him admit to being inspired to create Beats Electronics, after spending time with Appel’s Steve Jobs. Given how Jobs has been at the forefront of technological and artistic blends in his own Disney-like ways through his involvement with Pixar, we’re simply assuming that Iovine’s inspiration provided by Jobs didn’t stop at the iPod.
In fact, it makes perfect sense if you connect these dots with that of Beats acquiring the MOG blog network in March of last year, and their announcing of “Daisy”, a digital music service that will have Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor at the helm. By our deduction, Iovine, Dre, and Beats are evolving the “music” business into a Pop culture media business that benefits from music being its anchor product. Disney did this in his own way while having CalArts play a major role for the training aspects of his brand’s various entertainment products like animation.
True to Walt’s original vision, the institute fostered a generation of entertainment by graduating industry leaders like Tim Burton, John Lasseter, Brad Bird, and many others. Thusly, we can’t help but be thrilled to see what Jimmy and Dre foster when they do the same for music with be Jimmy Iovine & Andre Young’s Academy of Art Technology and Business Innovations.
Now that we’ve explained this, watch Jimmy Iovine’s speech, as well as USC’s welcoming ceremony. The videos describe the intent of their new academy. See if you agree with our thoughts. Hopefully you’ll be as excited as we are. Cheers!
Jimmy Iovine’s USC Speech
USC Officially Announces Jimmy Iovine & Andre Young’s Academy of Art Technology and Business Innovations