Editor’s comment: Don’t stop the music

Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

For Shakespeare, “If music be the food of love, play on.” Except at Qantas, which this week took the decision to press the stop button on its on-demand music and radio channels on board domestic flights.

It seems that passengers just aren’t that in love with the service, with apparently fewer than 10% tuning in.

Instead, the airline found that passengers preferred to listen to music stored on their own devices, or use the in-flight entertainment to watch movies or TV shows.

As part of its roll-out of Wi-Fi across its domestic fleet of A330s and B737s Qantas has signed up with Apple Music, which is offering a four month free subscription to new customers, and Audible which is giving one free audiobook per month for the first three months from the fullAudible.com.au library of downloadable audiobooks for new Audible customers.

But the decision to remove curated audio channels has been met as warmly as 8 Letters, the new album by American boy band Why Don’t We, which Rolling Stone has rated as the worst album of 2018.

Following the report by Australian Frequent Flyer, Dean Ormston, chief executive, APRA AMCOS, vice-chair of the Australian Copyright Council, was prompted to tweet:

“Qantas says no-one listens to their music channels/selections. The lacklustre curation of music-focused audio/video could be the cause! @Qantas we’d love to talk to you about taking Aussie music to the world – get onboard!”

In a prepared statement to Inflight, Ormston elaborates:

While programming of in-flight content is a matter for Qantas, we are deeply disappointed that music, and Australian music in particular, will not feature on in-flight entertainment on domestic flights. In their role as the national carrier Qantas have the opportunity to literally carry Australian stories in Australian voices to the world via their customers, and tell those stories to music loving Aussies as well. Australia is a music nation, and our year on year revenue stats show there is an increasing appetite for local music both here and abroad.

As APRA AMCOS Ambassador Amba Shepherd tweeted, “Australian music and Qantas belong together. Such a great opportunity for music discovery and supporting our arts.”

The opportunities are endless – audio, video, podcasts, playlists, print, background music at departure gates, live music in the lounge – the key is focused curation across the brand. It’s a win/win/win scenario for Qantas, their customers and the music industry. It would be a shame not to reconsider this move, and the feedback we’ve received echoes that sentiment.

Indeed, Aussie contemporary pop band Pirra share this view, tweeting, “We’re an Australian band that would love your support @Qantas. We know it’s in you to rethink this decision… and we have just the song for your music relaunch campaign. It’s called Get On Board”

“Music is like a dream,” said Ludwig van Beethoven, “One that I cannot hear,” and one that won’t be heard on domestic Qantas flights unless you’re carrying a personal electronic device.

If you’re attending APEX Expo next week in Boston, please do join the Inflight team and our market intelligence partners Valour Consultancy for a beer on Tuesday 25 September. The drinks reception will take place at the Inflight booth (#417) from 3:00pm–6:00pm. Wine and various soft drinks will also be available!


The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Inflight e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

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