The beginning of Beats started with an insight from Black Eyed Peas member will.i.am (William Adams). In 2004, he saw concert goers around the world experience music through the camera on their mobile phone. He told Jimmy Iovine “we need to make hardware…” Follow the logic here – the music is selling hardware (ipod’s at the time) so will.i.am tells Iovine we need to make hardware so when we make music it sells our stuff. Iovine recalls the beginning of Beats in this video from 2011.
So will.i.am has been part of Beats since the beginning – silent to the media but it appears a guiding creative light. He has not said what the payday of Apple’s purchase of Beats is for him, but he does say his foundation, i.am.angel Foundation, will be the big benefactor.