“Music can change the world because it can change people.” Those are the words uttered by Bono, lead vocalist of the rock band U2. The saying also largely speaks to the mission behind Skullcandy’s Human Potential Labs program, launched last year to unlock sports and possibilities through music, science and technology.

“We are always interested in how to create innovation in the marketplace, as well as furthering our brand mission to inspire life at full volume,” Sam Paschel, Skullcandy’s chief commercial officer, told [a]listdaily. “(Human Potential Labs) is the best embodiment of these two interests.”

The headphone and audio lifestyle brand largely operates under the marketing slogan “living life at full volume” where music is the underlying driving force. Athletes like Kyrie Irving, Travis Rice and Robbie Maddison are foundational forces in their marketing efforts to understand and identify the typical customer profile.


Paschel says their cross-section of ambassadors have been an inspiration for their sport performance products. “While competition day for athletes is incredibly varied, they all prepare in a similar fashion: high intensity interval training,” he says. “This inspired our in-house product team to make strides as it related to stability and durability of our sport performance line, knowing that if we could develop products to withstand the training demands of our pinnacle athletes, the recreational athlete would benefit.”

Pro athletes are inevitably helping Skullcandy reach markets outside of their Park City, Utah headquarters. “The larger idea that gets us excited is that our brand anthem isn’t just domestic, it’s a global mindset that applies to all cultures,” says Paschel. “The brand is well-received globally with steady and consistent growth – and we’re actively working toward the goal of growing international to be 50 percent of our business.”

Catering to consumers is one thing. But enabling athletes has always been engrained in Skullcandy’s DNA ever since action sports product enthusiast Rick Alden founded the company. The Human Potential Labs program – which is used to assess participants’ response to exercise stimuli and recovery methods – is an extension of that.

Skullcandy president Hoby Darling tabbed three-time U.S. Olympian skier Emily Cook to study what’s possible for human potential at the intersection of physical, mental and music. The headphone and audio brand first kicked off their program by partnering with former United States Navy Seal and skydiver Andy Stumpf, who broke the world record for a wingsuit jump (18 miles) and ended up raising nearly $120,000 for the Navy Seal Foundation. Cook and the Skullcandy crew travelled to Florida to learn more about the sport as well as Stumpf’s physiology by hooking him up to their performance lab. The sensors strapped to Stumpf measured his oxygen saturation and heart rate to target muscle groups that seemed to fatigue the most.

Cook, a five-time national champion in aerial skiing who spent 17 years on the U.S. team, leads Skullcandy’s team of in-house athletes and engineers to collaborate with research experts in the sports, medical, military and creative fields. She retired after the 2014 Sochi Games and went from eight hours of training to finding an office identity where she now works with athletes on an individual basis by “helping them narrow down their training.”

“It was important that when I completed my career in skiing, I was ready to transition into doing something that would make a difference afterward, as well as a culture that I was excited about,” Cook told [a]listdaily. “A lot of athletes struggle with that transition. It’s not easy.”

Paschel says Cook has forged partnerships with scientists in sports psychology and physiology as well as holding together a committee where these like minds can work together.

“I had an amazing career. I loved every second of it. It’s a huge honor to represent the United States as an athlete,” Cook continues. “Now, it’s about helping others. Everything we do in our lab is to obtain knowledge going forward toward innovation not just for athletes, but for everyone. We’re excited to share how music makes you better.”

Follow Manouk Akopyan on Twitter @Manouk_Akopyan.