Late last week two contrasting narratives emerged regarding the breakup and subsequent business moves of former partners Monster and Beats Electronics best known for the co-creation of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones. Tech publications shared Monster's scandalous tale of betrayal, seemingly in response to the news of Beats planned streaming music service, while music and entertainment industry publications focused on Swizz Beatz joining Monster's team. Stitch the narratives together and you've got a clear case of attack marketing.
On Thursday Sam Biddle shared a fascinating long read on Gizmodo revealing what Monster founders Noel and Kevin Lee claim is the real story of their integral role in the creation of Beats by Dr. Dre and their subsequent betrayal by the company they helped build.
The Inside Story of Monster's Betrayal by Beats By Dr. Dre
The father and son team built their company with what many consider high-priced items not quite worth the cost. Eventually, as they searched for new revenue streams, they came up with the idea of high quality headphones. But they decided they needed some celebrities to take their game to the next level and so son Kevin began his quest.
Word got out and Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre came calling but from here the backstories diverge. The Lees claim Iovine and Dre were much more interested in speakers than headphones and it was Monster that convinced them otherwise.
The details are fascinating and I won't sum them up other than to say that eventually, according to the Lees, Team Dre kicked them to the curb after snatching their ideas and moved on to other manufacturers. This process was facilitated by young Lee's mistaken belief that he could negotiate Monster's deals without much experience while facing a team of high priced music industry lawyers.
Though Biddle mentions the addition of Swizz Beatz to the Monster team as almost a footnote, he says little else about the news. In fact, paidContent's Janko Roettgers interpreted their decision to come forward as being inspired by recent annnouncements related to Beats' Project Daisy streaming music service.
"It's unclear yet when the new service, which is code-named Daisy, is going to launch – but it looks like Monster felt it was about time to remind people of its role in establishing the Beats brand."
Monster Announces Swizz Beatz' Investment and Board Membership
The previous day in separate pieces, both the Hollywood Reporter and Billboard announced that Swizz Beatz had joined Monster's board and invested in the company, inspired by an announcement by Monster.
In particular, Alex Pham's coverage for Billboard makes it clear that Monster is planning a whole new attack on the audio market though it remains to be seen what that means in terms of product lines. Swizz Beatz stated:
"I have a seat on the board. I am a co-owner. This is a graduation for Monster, and it's a graduation for me. For Monster, it shows they are investing in the culture. They are not doing things just to get by. In the next few months, the world will see who the monsters are in this world."
Monster seems to be headed, in part, towards a focus on the luxury market rather than the audiophile market with its Diamond Tears line of headphones though one could certainly consider each company's efforts simply different lines of attack on the luxury market.
However the news of Daisy affected Monster's pr efforts, it's pretty clear that the timing of their Gizmodo confessional is based on the announcement of Swizz Beatz joining the Monster crew as a major element in their plan to make a comeback. While it's more than a simple act of attack marketing, the move cannot be fully understood without connecting the two narratives.
Chaka Zulu Also On Board
In closely related news, Chaka Zulu joins Monster as Marketing VP adding business cred to the rich crew of celebrity endorsers that includes Sheila E, Nick Cannon, Xzibit and Sugar Ray Leonard.
"Monster's strategy for celebrity involvement is one of market segmentation. Working with Electronic Arts Inc.'s EA Sports label, which helped bring in Sugar Ray Leonard, Monster is looking to appeal to video gamers and sports fans. Sheila E's marketing campaign is targeted at women. Nick Cannon is helping the company reach out to a younger demographic. And Xzibit generally speaks to the same urban, hip-hop crowd as Dr. Dre."
Get set for Beats By Dr. Dre vs. Swizz "Monster" Beatz.
[Swizz Beatz photo via Business Wire.]