Everywhere you go, you’re likely to see at least one person with Beats headphones on. From athletes like Lebron James and Kevin Durant to ordinary people going for a run.
Beats by Dre has become renowned worldwide for its iconic branding, and its (occasionally controversial) bass-heavy signature. Originally focused on headphones, Beats has since expanded into wireless earbuds, portable speakers, and car audio systems.
While the brand name and the logo may be popular worldwide, most people may not be aware of the history and accomplishments of Beats by Dre.
In this post, we explore a couple of interesting facts about the company since they were founded.
The Beats Origin Story
Beats was started in 2006 by two industry legends, the rapper and producer, Dr. Dre, and Interscope A&M Records chairman, Jimmy Iovine. The pair partnered with Monster Cable, a company in Brisbane, California that developed premium audio and video cables.
The two recall founding the company out of two industry challenges. First, was the low quality of stock headphones that came with iPods. “Apple,” Iovine says, “was selling $400 iPods with $1 earbuds. Dre told me, ‘Man, it’s one thing that people steal my music. It’s another thing to destroy the feeling of what I’ve worked on.’ The second was the way record sales were being impacted by piracy.
Their answer? The Monster Beats Studio Headphones, the first pair of headphones by the company released in 2008. The red on glossy white stood out from the crowd at the time but weren’t an immediate success. Audiences were unsure whether the price mark was justified for the quality (it retailed for $350!). Iovine argued that the headphones were fine-tuned to recreate the studio experience. He said, “We wanted to recreate that excitement of being in the studio. That’s why people listen.
Iovine’s strategy proved successful. In three years, Beats marketing and sponsorships went viral. Beats would end their partnership with Monster and receive an offer from the Taiwanese phone developer, HTC.
From Monster to HTC to Apple
In 2010, HTC the mobile phone developer acquired a 50.1% majority share in Beats worth $309 million. This was around the time that HTC wanted to compete more directly with other phone developers, and believed a partnership with Beats was the right path. Monster would go on to develop their own headphones after their contract ended with Beats in 2012, and Beats would focus on becoming more independent.
Finally, in 2013, HTC sold back most of its shares to recover its quarterly loss. Apple bought Beats in 2013 for $3.2 billion, Apple’s largest purchase in its company’s history. Beats has found itself in Apple stores and even has its own radio station in the Apple Music app.
A Celebrity Focus Group
When Jimmy Iovine first tested the prototype headphones, he left them in the studio offices and asked various producers, singers, and musicians for their feedback. “M.I.A. or Pharrell Williams or Gwen Stefani or Will.i.am would come around, and I’d ask them, ‘What do you think of this one? What about this? What about that?’ ” says Iovine. “It’s not a numbers thing. I go to people with great taste.”
Other celebrities that have endorsed Beats include Lebron James (who bought fifteen pairs for the rest of the 2008 US Olympic Team), Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, Nelly, Ludacris, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Wiz Khalifa, and dozens more.
The Low-Key Beats Executive Line
Beats has popular lines for runners, for casual listeners, and for audio producers, but did you know about the Beats Executive headphones? Weâ€™re not surprised if you haven’t – they’re not advertised or promoted as often as the other consumer lines.
Unlike other lines, these headphones aren’t refreshed each year and don’t have the same vibrant colors. You can get the Beats Executive in either black or in silver. According to Beats, these headphones are designed for businessmen and executives who like to travel a lot while staying formally in fashion.
An Iconic Design and Logo
All the star power behind Beats wouldn’t be as effective if the Beats headphones were generic or boring. Instead, they always feature minimalist silhouettes, vibrant color schemes, and a simple but striking logo. The logo, designed by branding agency Ammunition, took heavy inspiration from Anton Stankowski’s 1971 Stadt Bruhl logo.
Although they look similar, the logo applies well to Beats headphones, as they not only look like a letter but a person wearing headphones!
Popular Among Millennials
Beats by Dre has absolutely captured the imagination of millennials around the world. In a study of teen preferences of audio brands including Beats, Apple, Skullcandy, Sony, Bose, JVC, Beats came out on top. 46.1% of surveyed teens said they would buy Beats for their next headphones. Analysts believe a lot of this is due to Beats doubling down on influencer marketing, getting famous celebrities and artists to wear them. In a feature article by Adweek, about How Beats Used Celeb Marketing to Become Millennials’ Favorite Audio Brand, marketing consultant, David J. Deal said: “Beats are cool, and they define what it means to be cool.”
“It didn’t matter what Lil Wayne was listening to, or if it sounded good,” he continues, citing the rapper’s endorsement at the 2012 NBA All-Star game as a turning point for the brand. “What mattered was that he was wearing Beats.”
Beats remains a giant in the headphone industry. With new lines announced every few years, the backing of Apple, and the promotion by countless athletes, artists, musicians, and influential figures, Beats will continue to be a dominant force.
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