Dr. Dre Music School: A New Program at USC

By Phill Powell

Famed Rap producer Dr. Dre is putting his money where his heart is—by helping fund a new academy at the University of Southern California that will teach the next generation of artists how to break into the music business.

Although he’s usually found more behind the scenes these days, Dre is still a powerful Rapper when he hits the stage.

Dre (real name = Andre Young) is making a $70 million endowment to the program, with another famous music producer and mogul, Jimmy Iovine. Students will be able to earn an undergraduate degree at the academy, which will be built this year and officially open during the fall of 2014.

The new school will be called the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. The curriculum will focus on four primary areas: arts and entrepreneurship; technology, design and marketability; concept and business platform; and prototype development. In addition to its faculty, students will get to hear from major industry icons who will serve as guest lecturers; for students bound for a career in the music business the school is the perfect platform for success.

Dre’s Golden Touch
He’s not an actual physician—but then, most real doctors couldn’t afford to buy an entire hospital. Dre could…and pay cash for it. Forbes magazine has estimated his personal fortune at $250 million. He’s won Grammies for his work on both sides of the mixing board. As a performer, he scored major successes during the 90s. And as a producer and label owner, he’s shaped the careers of stars like Eminem, 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg.

Iovine is another legendary producer, creating unforgettable albums for acts like U2 and Bruce Springsteen (Iovine served as studio engineer on Springsteen’s classic Born to Run album). Since the 70s he’s become a major industry player, and now is chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M Records, where he’s signed artists such as Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas. He’s parlayed his studio mastery and business smarts into a bankroll estimated somewhere between $400 million and $700 million.

In addition to running a record label, Iovine also serves as a mentor on “American Idol” and now records “AI” performers Scotty McCreery and Phillip Phillips for Interscope Geffen A&M Records.

Speakers—Not Sneakers
The two producers have been friends for a long time. It was Iovine who suggested to Dre that the pair create a high-end line of audio speakers. (Dre asked Iovine’s advice about lending his celebrity endorsement to a shoe manufacturer. Iovine reportedly told him, “Speakers…not sneakers,” and the idea was born.) Beats Electronics started out making only headphones and earbuds, but since then the company has blown up and now even produces audio speakers for cars. Beats Audio made $500 million in 2011 alone.

Now, Dr. Dre and Iovine’s good fortune and hard work will help open doors for emerging talent. Erica Muhl, dean of USC’s Fine Arts school, will become the academy’s first director, and she envisions a school built to support musical artistry. “Academy students will have the freedom to move easily from classroom to lab, from studio to workshop individually or in groups, and blow past any academic or structural barriers to spontaneous creativity.”

What’s Your First Step?
Attending the new USC academy should be a great way for college-age talents to become prepared to work in the music industry. But getting into the academy won’t be easy; only 25 students will be admitted during its first semester. And you can bet that those students who are selected will already have some early music-production experience that can be showcased on their entrance applications.

Dre wanted to endorse sneakers, but friend Iovine talked him into starting Beats Audio, a company that did $500 million in revenue during 2011 alone.

For that profesional, pre-college experience, Digital Media Academy offers the all-important first step. At DMA tech camps, you can discover music production this summer, while having a great time at the world’s best music camp.

Students in DMA’s Digital Audio, Music & Beat Production camp learn how to create different styles of music—such as Hip-Hop, Dance, Electronica and Dubstep—along with the techniques to record their own powerful bass lines and brilliant melodies. By the end of the week, they have a track to take home to share with friends and family—and add to a college application.

The key is hitting the ground early. Dr. Dre cut his first Rap record when he was 19, and by the time Jimmy Iovine was 20, he was already a staff engineer at New York’s famous Record Plant studios, working with music legends such as John Lennon. These guys followed their dreams early on and turned their passion into a career.