News September 18, 2018

APRA AMCOS protests Qantas’ removal of music from in-flight entertainment, alternative solutions “are literally endless”

Former Assistant Editor
APRA AMCOS protests Qantas’ removal of music from in-flight entertainment, alternative solutions “are literally endless”

Qantas have been removing music and radio stations from in-flight entertainment for months; a change made quietly back in July, without an official announcement.

An official statement sent to TMN by Qantas explains that the move comes after a “comprehensive review” of in-flight entertainment which found that “on average less than ten percent of customers per flight were tuning into the radio and music channels.”

The spokesperson said that their research “also indicated that many passengers on both domestic and international flights bring their own device with music already downloaded.”

But Tweeting about the news yesterday, APRA AMCOS CEO called for the travel giant to open discussions with the music community, suggesting that “the lack lustre curation of music focused audio/video could be the cause.”

Speaking to TMN, Ormston furthered that the move is a missed opportunity to support Australian music and promote our songwriters to international flyers. “Especially given their role as the national carrier – literally carrying Australian stories and Australian voices to the world.

“[Qantas are] not seeing the opportunity to celebrate Australian songwriters and composers through better, researched curation.

“There’s a huge appetite for Australian music both locally and abroad – we see that in our year on year numbers, it’s just a matter of prioritising local content through the right lens.”

Qantas have not yet responded to his message.

According to Qantas’ review, customers were preferring to tune into premiere movies and TV box sets, “so that is where we are investing and continuing to grow our film and TV library.”

Starting as far back as July this year, radio stations, curated playlists and CD library collections were removed from in-flight entertainment on domestic and some international flights on all Boeing 737 flights and domestic Boeing 717 and Airbus A330 flights.

On-demand albums and some radio programs will remain on international flights including the Airbus A380, Boeing 747, Boeing 787 and internationally-configured Airbus A330s.

In its place, passengers will have a choice of a limited number of podcasts.

Qantas also recommends that customers download or stream their own music, and take advantage of their offer of up to four months of free Apple Music subscription, plus Audible content thanks to partnerships as part of the free Qantas wifi that’s being rolled out on domestic flights.

Passengers can also access 30 days of free Spotify, but this requires them to create an account.

Plenty of customers have kicked up a stink over the axing, posting their frustrations on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum thread Let The Music Play Or Not, started by a passenger who noticed the lack of music in July.

My advice to Qantas – just shut the whole IFE down if it is going to continue in that vein. A singing nun with a guitar would be more entertaining,” said one customer. 

Others echoed ’ consensus that the dismal music selection on offer was the cause of the lack of interest, with one commenter arguing: “I thought Virgin selection was poor, Qantas music selection, by comparison, was non-existent.” 

“The entire IFE system was pretty poor selection but to have no music is a real shame,” added another.

The move backflips on the sentiment expressed by Jo Boundy, Qantas’ chief marketing officer in 2016 in (ironically) an interview with APRA AMCOS, in which she emphasised: “At Qantas, we are passionate about music.

“We’ve engaged a lot of Australian artists over time to make sure we are building opportunities for them as well as the brand.

“We’re not just in the transport business, we are in the business of travel and experience, and that is what music does. It brings out the emotion that is linked with experience,” she said.

Ormston says that there are “endless opportunities” to increase Qantas passenger engagement with music.

“I think the whole music community would love to get on board. There is a lot of love for Qantas as a brand, and it’s history and place in this country, so we would love to work together to help export our local songs and stories.

“Whether that’s through artist-curated content, video features on local artist, podcasts featuring Australian songwriters and composers or even in the in-flight magazine. Then there’s boarding and departing music, music at the departure gate, in the lounge – the opportunities are literally endless.”

Related articles