Dr Dre has been ordered to pay part of a $25m fine to a former business partner as part of a disagreement over the origin of Beats headphones.
The rapper-turned-businessman amassed a huge fortune after creating the popular audio products brand alongside music mogul Jimmy Iovine in 2006. However, entrepreneur Steven Lamar claimed that the duo had stolen his idea of creating celebrity-endorsed headphones and used his designs in their products.
A 2007 lawsuit saw Beats agree to pay Lamar 4% on every pair of Beats Studio headphones that it sold. However, the case returned to court after Lamar claimed that his designs had also inspired later models. He was seeking a payout of $130m in unpaid royalties.
The case has now concluded, with the judge ordering the accused to pay $25.2m, as well as further royalties on all Studio 3 headphones that are sold in the future.
We can assume that Dr Dre and Iovine will split the bill, paying out around $12.5m each. But how much is the rap mogul worth and how will this impact his wealth?
Dr Dre net worth: How Beats boosted his bank balance
Prior to creating Beats by Dre, the hip-hop star had already made a considerable fortune from his time in the music industry. However, the popularity of Beats headphones saw Dr Dre’s net worth rocket.
In 2011, a year after HTC had agreed to pay $309m for a 50.1% majority stake in the company, Forbes estimated his worth at $250m. That year, the artist saw earnings of $110m, much of which came from the HTC deal. That was up from $14m in the 12 months previous.
Dr Dre’s earnings would continue to climb. Beats invested heavily in endorsing the world’s biggest stars, including musicians, entertainers and athletes and continues to do so to this day. According to Sportcal, Beats currently pays 22 athletes alone to promote its products, including the likes of Conor McGregor, Serena Williams, Neymar and LeBron James. This business model convinced consumers to buy the brand, and quickly made Beats the most popular headphones on the market.
By the time tech giants Apple took notice, Beats had grown into a multi-billion dollar company. That did little to deter the iPhone maker. Apple paid out $3.2bn (the largest acquisition in Apple’s history) to acquire the brand from Dre and Levine. According to Forbes, Dr Dre earned $620m in 2014. That remains the highest amount ever made by a musician in a single year.
The deal saw his net worth double in two years, from $350m in 2013 to $700m in 2015.
Dr Dre has seen his worth climb steadily since. According to Forbes’ annual Hip-Hop’s Wealthiest Artists list, Dr Dre is now the third richest person in hip-hop, behind only Jay-Z and fellow business mogul and world’s richest rapper, P Diddy.
How will the Lamar ruling impact Dr Dre’s net worth?
Overall, the ruling will have little impact. He losses $12.5m, but he has likely added at least $30m to his wealth over the last 12 months. In the last three years, Dr Dre’s annual earnings have averaged around $36m a year.
Forbes estimates Dr Dre’s net worth at $770m in 2018. However, after the Beats ruling, it likely now sits at around $758m.
The additional royalties that Beats has to pay to Lamar on Beats Studio 3 sales will not affect him, as that money will now be coming out of Apple’s pocket.
What does Dre do now?
Keen to become hip-hop’s first billionaire, a title that he has previously given himself, but so far failed to achieve, having $760m in the bank hasn’t convinced the 53-year-old rapper to slow down.
Since selling Beats to Apple, he has ditched the boardroom to return to the music studio, with a few stops at the movie set along the way. He helped to produce the Straight Outta Compton movie, based on the N.W.A rap group that he was part of at the start of his career. Likewise, he also released his third studio album, Compton, which was inspired by the movie, before setting off on one last world tour.
The film and television industry seemingly captured Dr Dre’s attention.
As confirmed by his former Beats partner Iovine, who joined Apple as part of the acquisition, the company is currently working on a television series that will focus on the rapper’s life. According to reports, Dre will star in a semi-autobiographical drama named Vital Signs. That was in 2016, but there is still no sign of the show.
Reports earlier this month suggested that he is now working on a movie based on Motown singer Marvin Gaye’s life.
At the moment, it’s unclear whether we will ever see Vital Signs. There has been no word from Apple on a release date. However, it will matter little to the music mogul in the grand scheme of things. Production has been bankrolled by Apple and he has little need to add a few more million to his worth.