Coachella 2012: Beats by Dre provides a savvy retreat
Product placement and branding abound at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, but if we had to pick the best of the blatantly marketed products on the field it'd have to be those by headliner Dr. Dre. The rap producer is behind the successful Beats by Dr. Dre headphone line, and in a tiny tent tucked away next to the festival’s mobile charging station you could experience (if only for a few delicious minutes) what it's like to be someone who can actually afford $399 headphones.
All that was needed was a valid driver's license to rent a pair of Dre’s high-end signature headphones to catch all the action on the mainstage, courtesy of one of four high-definition televisions inside the tent.
The red glow that emanates from most of Dre's products filled the room as festival-goers stood at listening docks bobbing their heads. I opted for the full 4D experience, which included a pair of 3D glasses that offered a crystal-clear view of a real-time stream of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds mainstage set.
Just when you longed for the thumping reverb of a booming sound system that only comes from being near a stage in the flesh, a worker instructed me to plug into the circular multi-level seating area in the middle of the tent. The area was programmed to vibrate to every riff that was happening across the field without having to stand in a sea of bodies.
Dre and co-founder Jimmy Iovine partnered with the company to release their line of headphones in 2009. Together they have put out a host of hot-selling headphones, and have even teamed with other artists such as Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga and Sean "Diddy" Combs for their own branded lines.
Beats accounted for 53% of 2011's $1-billion headphone market according to market research company NPD Group, surprising given the explosion of celeb-fronted headphones from Quincy Jones, RZA, Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z and now 50 Cent. Earlier this year Dre and Iovine announced they had severed ties with longtime distributor Monster Cable Products.
In a further bit of cross-promotion, the line of headphones that festival-goers got to sample were the Beatsmixer, which were created in partnership with producer-DJ David Guetta, who has a set in the Sahara tent Saturday night.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photo: Coachella festival-goers watch Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds in the Beats by Dr. Dre tent. Credit: Gerrick D. Kennedy / Los Angeles Times