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George Benson & Friends To Play Monster’s CES Concert

onster announced the musical performance for its annual concert and retailer awards at CES.

The event, titled “An Elegant Night of Music,” will feature “George Benson & Friends.”

Talent include The BBB Featuring Bernie Dresel, and more guests will be announced, according to Monster.

The concert will follow Monster’s annual retailer awards dinner, held January, 6, 2017, at the Axis Theater at Planet Holloywood.

Past artists at Monster’s concerts have included Ray Charles, Fleetwood Mac, Mary J. Blige and Alicia Keys.

Global Home Audio Market Nears $11B At Wholesale

Demand for soundbars, streaming services and wireless speakers (particularly the kind you can talk to), helped the home audio category outpace the broader CE market this year, Futuresource reported.

According to the U.K. tech consultancy, worldwide shipments of home audio devices are on track to finish 2016 at 102 million units, representing a wholesale value of close to $11 billion.

“Over the last few years home audio has been the go-to growth category for CE, but 2016 is pushing expectations even further,” observed senior market analyst Rasika D’Souza. “Market expansion has been driven by rising consumer interest in music streaming services and music playback on smartphones, with both applying upward pressure on the market for a wide range of wireless audio products.

“We’ve also seen the beginnings of a market transformation, with voice interaction poised to place the audio industry at the center of the smart home revolution,” D’Souza said.

While Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers took center stage this year, FutureSource expects the voice personal assistant category (VPA) to rapidly expand as Microsoft teams up with soon-to-be-Samsung-acquired Harman to provide a speaker powered by Windows 10’s Cortana.

T-Mobile’s John Legere Planning CES Announcement

T-Mobile’s rock’n roll CEO John Legere has chosen CES as the backdrop for the company’s next “Un-Carrier” announcement.

The initiatives — 12 to date ranging from no-contract postpaid plans to affordable unlimited data — have disrupted the mobile industry and added millions of subscribers to the Magenta Carrier’s ranks.

The event will mark T-Mobile’s first formal return to the trade show since CES 2014, when Legere revealed Un-carrier 4.0 (an offer to pay off new subscribers’ early-termination fees), and was famously ejected from an AT&T developer party he crashed with chief financial officer Braxton Carter. This go-round, Legere is planning to announce his latest enticement on the first day of CES.

But amid all the hoopla, the company’s customer-first credo is being called into question by Change To Win (CtW), a labor union confederation that claims the carrier is putting undue pressure on its store staff to sell. In a complaint filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the group said sales goals are so high and penalties for falling short so harsh that some associates and managers have taken to adding unauthorized services to customers’ accounts.

A Life Well Lived

Marty Friedman, a former optometrist who went on to launch and lead luxury appliance distributor Eastern Marketing, receives a Founders Award from CEO and son Craig for his more than 60 years of guidance and inspiration. The plaque, bestowed during the company Christmas party, reads in part, “His boundless enthusiasm and passion for the business have left an indelible mark on this industry and on all of us.”

Congrats, Marty.

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