Your Ears Belong to Dr. Dre: That'll Be $300 (Update 1)
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Hip-hop star, producer and music mogul Dr. Dre is a perfectionist. He also appears to be something of a control freak. He is using those qualities to build himself a tidy little empire.
Dr. Dre, the stage name for Andre Young, helped define the West Coast genre of hip-hop known as G-funk, first through his group N.W.A., then as a solo artist, a producer of acts like Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Eminem, and through his work building Death Row Records and his own current organization, Aftermath Entertainment.
In December, Forbes Magazine listed Dr. Dre as the most highly paid entertainer of 2012, with $110 million in income, beating out U2 and Lady Gaga. Most of that comes not from his music but from his electronics company, Beats Electronics, the maker of the Beats by Dre line of headphones, speakers and now cellphone, computer and automobile audio technology. The company has also unveiled plans to launch a streaming music service.
As a recording artist and producer, Dr. Dre has long had a reputation for wanting everything just so. Hundreds of takes to get one instrument just right. Rumors swirl of recordings made but never released -- maybe never to be released -- because he's not completely satisfied.
He wants to control every aspect of the sound. With Beats, he can even control how it sounds after it leaves the studio, how it sounds in your ears.
But those control issues are married with great business instincts. Where another artist would sell T-shirts and crap or slap his stage name on a brand of perfume, Dre has taken merchandizing to a whole new level, creating a substantial business.
With Beats by Dre, the artist brand and the company brand work together as equal partners. It was a brilliant move and, in the process, he actually changed the face of the audio products market and set a new benchmark for other entrepreneurs.