Apple executive Jimmy Iovine is expected to transition to a consulting role in August, stepping back from daily involvement with the Apple Music streaming service he helped create and brand, The Wall Street Journal reports. Of all the celebrity names who migrated over to Apple when Beats was acquired by the company in 2014, Iovine is the last one still actively involved with Apple’s growth of that brand. Iovine is expected to jump ship when his Apple shares fully vest in August, and how his role at the company will evolve is still an open question given the somewhat nebulous status he has enjoyed during his entire stint with Apple. Iovine has been an important part of Apple Music’s successes — smoothing over a public feud with Taylor Swift and securing exclusive deals with artists like Drake — but he’s also been a source of friction with other high-ranking executives, who have been in the middle of negotiations with artists and labels only to find Iovine was conducting his own separate discussions.
Iovine’s push for original video content specifically tied to Apple Music was met with mixed reviews, and with Apple pumping more resources into developing its own standalone video product and its own audio brand apart from the Beats label, it’s even less clear where Iovine fits into the mix. “If you ask the question, did they need Beats?, the answer is no,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at tech research firm Loup Ventures. “They didn’t need it to get to where they’ve gone in music, and the existing Beats business has not done well.” Plenty of other executives from acquired companies have faded away after unsuccessful attempts to integrate into the much-larger company, and sources familiar with iovine’s time at Apple said it was difficult for him to transition from the edgy culture established at Beats into the Apple Music culture that was much more reliant on catering to a broader audience.