10 Things we can all learn from Beats Electronic’s Icon Dr Dre

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(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Beats Electronics was just sold to Apple for a reported 3.2 Billion dollars. This is the most money Apple has paid to buy any company. The purchase has catapulted Dr Dre into iconic status as the first hip hop billionaire. How did he do it?  Starting out as a producer for the rebellious gangsta rap group NWA, Dr Dre may have never imagined almost 30 years later the group members would have gone in various directions and he would be where he is today.

He showed his amazing production skills early on not just with NWA but also starting out producing music like Michelle’s smash “Something in my Heart” showing he could do more than produce rap. He went on to produce for MANY major singers and rappers after that and even had his own now-iconic album The Chronic on his own Death Row records in 1992. An album that is ranked by many in the hip hop community to equate the iconic status of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

7 years ago, Dre introduced his $300 headphone line called Beats with business partner/record exec Jimmy Iovine and his massive respect from fans as a producer immediately shifted in massive sales of the headphones. Many other artists tried to follow suit but failed. He was first, he had established the brand recognition and a demand was created for his headphones. Here are 10 things ALL black entrepreneurs can learn from Dr. Dre. (click “Next” for next segment)

Those who say the least, and do the best, make the most NOISE

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You rarely see Dr Dre on late-night TV shows, online or at many events. The entire Beats line was promoted in a very unique, straight to the point no hype way. The lack of public appearances and the “distance” has also worked for Steve Jobs, Michael Jackson, Sade, Stephen Spielberg, Keanu Reeves, Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Russell Simmons, Diddy and only a handful of other celebs who spend most of their time perfecting their craft and skills instead of doing what 99% of other celebs do, promoting their next project.

Dre has been superior at everything that he has touched in the industry starting with producing. When your product is superb it will speak for itself. There is little need for hype and the best promotion is word of mouth. (click “Next” for next segment)

Surround yourself with the right business people

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You can surround yourself with the right people all day and they can encourage you to be your best but the right business people will encourage you to take risks and be the best business person that you can be. Jimmy Iovine is a lot like Dr Dre. He does not make a lot of appearances but his record label success earns him the ultimate respect from the industry. He is brilliant when it comes to marketing.

Without question, he borrowed a few pages from Steve Jobs’ book as well as Christian Louboutin in marketing Beats as well. He created a demand for a high priced must-have gadget that sold itself. the red cord separated the headphones from all others and the unique Beats logo seemed to be everywhere. Dre and Iovine needed to work for hand in hand and Iovine saw the opportunity. Dre didn’t have to do much more than to sit back and watch Jimmy work his marketing magic and that’s what happened. (click “Next” for next segment)

It’s all in the presentation

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The presentation and packaging of Beats headphones is nothing less than stellar.  When the headphones were introduced they were like the iPhone without the history YET, within 2 years they exploded. The separated from Monster products to have more control of marketing and producing the headphones and I actually stood 3 feet away from Monster CEO Noel Lee when he was asked about Beats leaving the Monster brand.

Without repeating what he said the move HAD to hurt the company now, with the sale to Apple, even more.  Iovine and Dre probably needed Monster to help distribute the headphones initially but then realized they needed more control a couple of years later which was smart. Monster has many other products they constantly promote that reviewers are often on the fence when asked if the more expensive Monster products are better than less expensive competitors. (click “Next” for next segment)

Understand Branding and Leverage

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There is an old saying.. “Use what you got to get what you want….” In this case, it is exactly what happened. Dr Dre’s name will forever be synonymous with NWA, Gangsta Rap, Producing and Hip Hop. He used that leverage to add Headphones, Electronics, Philanthropist, College Course Curriculum and now he is Hip Hop’s first Billionaire. (click “Next” for next segment)

Step outside the box

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Many black colleges were upset that Dr Dre gave $35 Million to USC instead of a historically black college.  While he may have his own reasons for giving to USC had he given the money to a historically black college it would have appeared to be confusing to Beats biggest customers.  Without question, MOST Beats Headphone buyers do not go to historically black colleges and the donation would have never gotten the worldwide press that it did had he given to a black college. Now he has put himself in a better position to give (by his choice) a lot more to MANY colleges.

The move may have pissed many black colleges off but it was brilliant on Dre’s behalf to give to USC. The wing has his name and it gives him more leverage to introduce a curriculum at other major universities. (click “Next” for next segment)

Know Your Value

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This is incredibly important, you MUST know what you are worth and NEVER let anyone tell you that you are worthless. Set your price and RARELY waiver. If someone comes to you for your support THEY know your value… do you? Dr Dre understands his value which is what makes him an amazing businessman. His no-nonsense approach means that if you get 3 seconds of his time, you better make it important.

Even TMZ reporters were intimidated by him during a recent interview where they followed him. He was very short with his answers, he gave credit to others who might be considered competition and he didn’t let people into his world. This only helps to build his iconic status. (click “Next” for next segment)

Think Big(ger)

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Dr Dre said in an interview he wants t be like Apple. A few years ago he may have been laughed at for saying that but today, it’s extremely possible. (click “Next” for next segment)

Give Back

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The donation to USC shows he is not greedy or self-imposed. In addition, the added benefit it’s a huge tax break. (click “Next” for next segment)

Become an Icon

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Why not dream to become an icon instead of just an black entrepreneur. Life is short and being an black entrepreneur is how most (if not all) business Icons start off. (click “Next” for next segment)


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