House of Marley Is Blazing a Path for Sustainable Electronics, But Do Enough Consumers Care?

38 years after the reggae pioneer's death, his name lives on in eco-friendly speakers, turntables and headphones

Bob Marley surrounded by audio components
House of Marley pledges 'to carry on Bob Marley’s legacy of love for music and planet.'
Illustration: Trent Joaquin; Sources: House of Marley, Getty Images

In 2009, the descendants of Bob Marley gathered at the Miami home of Cedella Marley, one of the late reggae singer’s daughters, over plates of Jamaican fried fish and corn. But there was far more in the offing than lunch. The Marley brood had assembled to meet with an executive from Hilco Consumer Capital, a firm that specialized in resurrecting deceased brands or, as in this case, deceased celebrities who were themselves brands and creating lucrative licensing deals with them.

Which was just what the family needed. Marley’s prodigious talents had never included financial planning—his failure to write a will touched off acrimonious disputes over his $30 million estate following his death in 1981—and the singer’s likeness has historically been among the most pirated in the world. The Hilco deal began to put a stop to all of that.

“We want our legacy and our name to be firm in the world,” said son Rohan Marley at the time.

HOM sells a range of bluetooth speakers, including the No Bounds portable (in red) for $59.00.
Courtesy of House of Marley

That was 10 years ago. Though Hilco is no longer in the picture, the merchandising of Bob Marley has become firm in the world. A joint venture called CAA-GBG (Creative Artists Agency and Global Brands Group Holding Limited) now puts together licensing deals for the family, and its corporate entity, Fifty-Six Hope Road Music Limited, now owns all the rights once held by Marley, including his name, image and likeness. (It’s hard to get a fix on exactly what Marley’s estate is worth today, but most published reports put it in the neighborhood of $130 million.)

The licensing agreements that have emerged from this structure collect tens of millions in royalties on everything from apparel to beverages to lifestyle products. There are, for example, Bob Marley skateboards (licensed by Sector9) and One Love ice cream (made by Ben & Jerry’s). There is a Marley Coffee, too, whose varieties include “Get Up, Stand Up.”

In April, New Age Beverages reupped a deal to sell CBD-infused beverages under the brand name Marley Mellow Mood. And if getting genuinely mellow is your game, there is Seattle-based Marley Natural, which sells varieties of cannabis and a host of smoking and vaping accessories.

And then there is House of Marley, an audio brand whose 100 products are now for sale everywhere from America to Germany to Dubai. Started by Marley’s son Rohan, House of Marley sells a range of audio components—speakers, turntables, headphones, earbuds. Of course, so do any number of more established brands. What differentiates HOM, aside from the obvious link to an iconic musician, is its ecological commitment.

HOM's audio components are made with sustainably harvested bamboo.
Courtesy of House of Marley

Committed to peace and the planet

While most electronics brands encourage consumers to recycle their components at the end of their service lives, HOM has upped the ante by manufacturing its products with sustainable materials before they even go home with consumers—and claims to be the first audio brand to do so.

“From the very beginning, HOM set out to [be] different and to design a product with sustainability in mind,” said director of product design Josh Poulsen. “If you look at our products, they’re visually different. We have a lot of front-facing materials like wood and fabric. We’re being as creative as we can.”

HOM components are indeed heavy on the woods, all of them certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. That cork in the Marley earbuds? Sustainably harvested. Upcycled fabrics serve as speaker cloths. And where you do find synthetic components, HOM has reduced the environmental impact by using materials such as nontoxic silicone, wood-fiber composite resin and reground plastic. The packaging is 100% recyclable, too. For good measure, HOM also supports One Tree Planted, which combats deforestation by putting saplings back into the ground.

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