Students reacted after the administration announced Monday that Jimmy Iovine, the chairman of Universal Music Group’s Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records unit and co-founder of Beats By Dr. Dre, will speak at the university’s 130th commencement ceremony.
Iovine began his four-decade career in the music industry when he was a teenager. Early in his career, he worked with John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen.
Interscope, which he co-founded in 1990, primarily deals with hip-hop, pop, rock and urban performers. The record label merged with Geffen Records and A&M Records in 1999. Artists that have signed with Interscope include Dr. Dre, Marilyn Manson, Kendrick Lamar and Azealia Banks.
Iovine also co-produced the 2002 movie 8 Mile, which starred the rapper Eminem. He was also the executive producer for LeBron James’ 2008 documentary More Than A Game.
In 2006, Iovine and hip-hop producer Dr. Dre created Beats, a high-performance headphone and sound transmission company. The company markets Beats headphones as well as speakers and other audio technologies.
Currently, Iovine also serves as a mentor on Fox’s American Idol. He uses his expertise and experience of the industry to guide the show’s contestants in their weekly musical challenges. Successful Idol contestants, such as Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips, now release their music through Interscope.
Some students believe Iovine and his advice will add compelling depth to the commencement ceremony.
“It was a good choice of USC to take someone who doesn’t have the same visibility as huge stars and huge famous people we have had before,” said Julia Riley, a senior majoring in art history and political science. “I don’t know his background as much or his view or what he can give us for advice, but I think someone who is that accomplished is someone we can learn from.”
Other students believe the university could have chose a more well-known speaker.
“I wish it could have been someone more renowned in a general sense,” said Ama Hayes, a senior majoring in communication. “Personally I am not going to be too thrilled or bragging to my family about it. But, at the end of the day, it is about the message he gives to us, so I’ll have to listen to him before I judge.”
Though students differ on how they view the selection of Iovine as a speaker, many believe that his diverse experiences will be applicable to students of all majors.
“Just because you are going to be a doctor or engineer does not mean you won’t be working with other fields,” said Andrew Inadomi, a sophomore majoring in music industry. “[Iovine is] a great example of how to better ourselves and make a name for the Trojan community out in the real world.”
Last year, Christiane Amanpour, the chief international correspondent for CNN, spoke at the commencement ceremony. In past years, former USC President Steven B. Sample, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, astronaut Neil Armstrong and comedian Bill Cosby have delivered the speech.
The commencement ceremony will take place on May 17. Honorary degree recipients have not yet been announced.