I can only imagine the place I just took you to as music is one of the only ways to completely connect with us emotionally and we are beginning to see that in our own consumer electronics industry. With CES wrapping up, press coverage of celebrity headphones and product integrations is one of the hottest topics among our industry. It’s apparent that the music industry has now found the perfect marriage in partnering with electronics companies for co-branded partnerships. We have all watched the growth and success of Monster’s partnership with Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre in the creation of Beats by Dre. This year will be interesting to see how CE integrates the celebrity components to their brand development.
I have been very fortunate to work closely in the development of Monster’s collaboration with Earth, Wind & Fire on their series of audio products and integration into retail that puts an emphasis on the intimate experience between the band and the customer. One year ago, the concept of the products with Monster were only an idea, and come May at the annual PRO Source meeting in Dana Point, dealers had the opportunity to strategize with the band’s manager, Jabari McDavid, on how to integrate into the band’s tour to drive sell-through for the first headphone, Gratitude. Like many people, I too was intrigued of the synergy in the beginning as many artists just put their “name” on products and use their likeness to drive brand awareness. We’ve seen in the past that that equation doesn’t allow products to reach their maximum potential, but also lacks the emotional connection between the brand and the consumer. After spending much time on tour with Earth, Wind & Fire and working with Monster, it is apparent the band is committed to doing what it takes to be successful in this industry and driving business at retail.
Monster has a great opportunity in partnering with Earth, Wind & Fire as they are one of the most musically accomplished and critically acclaimed bands of all time. Many people know them from their hits in the 70’s, but that same music is more popular today than it’s ever been. Secondly, the band continues to win awards and be actively involved all over the world with past and upcoming fans. This collaboration marks the beginning of the perfect marriage of harmony, rhythm, engineering, and audio science, as it is all a part of the everyday life of audiophiles and the members of Earth, Wind & Fire. A true visionary, Noel Lee, once told me, “Earth, Wind & Fire is legendary for instrumental virtuosity, perfectionism and attention to detail in all the music they create. With ‘Gratitude,’ we capture the unique passion, feel and experience of the band by reproducing the sounds of real music, not synthesized sample or tracks created purely in the studio. We all worked together to tune the headphones to produce the signature tones and harmonics of brass, the staccato punch of the percussion, the cleanest possible bass and the most natural vocals.”
So often people focus on the glitz and glamour of the show business and they always wonder what it’s like to “be on tour.” Everyone is aware of the long-standing success of Earth, Wind & Fire and even more aware of their musical accomplishments. What I’ve learned over the last year is that the members of this group are incredibly genuine, personable, hard working, family-oriented, faith-driven, and all-around some of the best people you will ever meet. There’s something to say to Lee’s point about recreating the musical experience they bring. As you get to know them, you realize they cherish that special bond they have created among each other and it transcends by lifting them up when they perform together on stage.
We are all very aware of the headphone and audio movement within our industry, but if the artist is passionate about their music, and dedicated to their fan, their integration into the marketing strategy is extremely important to reach the full potential of the partnership. I can strongly say that Earth, Wind & Fire has officially set the bar for other artists on how to partner with CE brands correctly, but most importantly, they are completely supportive of the retail partners that choose to bring in their products worldwide.