When it comes to headphones, it’s all about whose head they're sitting on. Last summer at the Olympic Games in London, plenty of companies shelled out millions to be official sponsors, but one that didn’t bother was likely the biggest winner. Beats by Dre headphones kept getting airtimeon international TV as athlete after athlete seemed to be sporting them.
These days, the business started by one of the world’s most influential—and richest—rappers, Dr. Dre. is commanding top billing among audio equipment providers. Dre is sitting extra pretty after HTC bought a 51 percent stake in the company in 2011 to the tune of a reported $100 million. (HTC later sold back 25 percent to Dre and co-founder Jimmy Iovine for $125 million.)
And while other headphone brands employ sub-par spokesmen and pseudo-celebrity ambassadors, Beats by Dre is busy outfitting hip-hop celebrities like will.i.am and Nicki Minaj with its over the ear equipment. It doesn't hurt that Dre is a huge celebrity himself, and that Iovine is often seen wearing the headphones during his mentoring stints on American Idol.
As for Minaj, who is finishing up a stint as a judge on American Idol and recently announced anew line of clothing and gear with Sears, she recently debuted her Beats by Dre "Pink Pill" speakers, adding another lucrative layer to the endorsement pie.
Beats alsoformed a partnershipwith will.i.am and Coca-Cola onEkocycle, which used recyled materials to make products, including a special-edition pair of Beats.
Don’t think other folks haven’t noticed. Monster headphones just introduced a partnership with 19-time Grammy winner Emilio Estefan to introduce “premium Sound Machine by Monster,” which will be sold at Target.
“With Miami Sound Machine, we created a unique blend of rhythms that are synonymous with our culture and our city,” said Emilio Estefan in a release. “It has been my dream to create a line of headphones that enhance the quality of sound for people to enjoy these unique rhythms of the world. I am proud to partner with Target in launching Sound Machine by Monster.” Estefan has apparently been working with Target already on his “Emilio Estefan’s Picks,” which features his favorite books, movies and music.
While Estefan may be a powerhouse in the Latin community, it’s looking like Dr. Dre has got this market pretty locked up for now.