To say there's a lot of clutter at CES is an understatement. There are 3,000 companies presenting 20,000 products. So tech and gadget brands are turning to the fail-safe solution for drawing attention: big-name celebrities. This year CES features more musical artists than ever.
It's a combination of tech titans aligning themselves with mega music stars-- like Qualcomm bringing Maroon 5 on stage; The Killers performing at AT&T's hackathon; and artists who have launched their own products. Curtis Jackson, aka "50Cent," is here promoting his SMS Audio headphones. Will.I.am, is promoting his new iPhone camera case accessory with a slide-out keyboard.
I sat down with Jackson to talk about his SMS Audiocompany, which sells headphones for as much as $300 in 45 countries. He said that his international touring has "paid off extremely well" in terms of promoting the products, and that sales are moving faster than expected.
"It was once taboo for an artist to be associated with products away from the actual art they were making," Jackson said. "And now it's become a part of the actual business, the brand extension opportunities and abilities to work with the other corporations to have the finances to place you in the public eye in the right way."
He said these new deals are helping fill the void left by the struggling music industry.
"It's the new way of actually creating what the major record companies created for you in the past because they're not making the same money off of the actual sales of CDs."
Now Jackson has brought in another artist -- Timbaland -- to partner with him on the company and launch his own line of headphones. He said he's "not looking to create a smorgasbord of entertainers," but to draw in artists who fit with the brand.
So will consumers shell out for $300 headphones? Jackson expects a shift from quantity to quality: "I think when people are passionate, they'll actually make the investment in order not to have to buy several products, cheap products that break and have to buy again," he said.
And Jackson is watching the success of luxury goods.
"If you look at how things are trending, high-end products are doing better at this point," he said. "You can't deprogram us from not wanting to live life on the highest possible level. This is what we get up to work hard for."