From security screenings to surcharges, flying isn't exactly a relaxing experience these days. But Delta Air Lines wants its passengers to feel good, so the carrier asked for the help of DMI Music & Media Solutions.
The Pasadena company designed a song collection that plays in Delta's terminals. The smooth sounds are more distinctive than the bland elevator music of the past, but they're still designed to soothe the nerves of departing and arriving passengers.
"With lines, luggage and other passengers, boarding an airplane is more stressful than ever," said Andy French, senior vice president at DMI. "The music programming should feel accessible and comfortable, and communicate a subtle, positive energy that relaxes passengers."
To avoid the saccharine predictability of other piped-in music, DMI built a song list of new artists that most passengers probably hadn't heard before. Also, all the songs were vocals rather than instrumentals.
"The music we produce is more engaging than just background," French said. "It's OK as passengers board a plane to concentrate on the lyrics. We avoid frenetic lyrics or words that make them uncomfortable."
DMI put together a demo tape that Delta played extensively at airports before signing up for the project. The Delta sound now includes mid-tempo pop and adult alternative tracks by artists such as Jakob Dylan, Duffy, India.Arie and Maroon 5.
The song collections help L.A.-area record labels by exposing their musicians to a captive audience.
The company's contract with Delta gives recording artists and labels "an innovative way to access new listeners and connect with consumers," said Tena Clark, founder and chief executive at DMI.
The songs now accompany more than 28,000 Delta flights every month.
Another DMI client, Wyndham Hotels, asked DMI to create a 60-minute tape for the lobby, pool areas and most importantly, the guest rooms.
The tape plays in 14,000 rooms when guests arrive in their quarters. It also plays when the alarm clock goes off in the morning. Wyndham had special clock-radios manufactured to play the branded sound.
Claire Walter, publisher of the Internet travel Web site Travel Babel, wondered if there was a real benefit to piped-in music. She noted that Delta increased its fees for checked luggage last month, the second price hike in 2008.
"Inspiring and/or soothing music is all well and good," Walter said. "But in my opinion it will not substitute for long lines, self-serve boarding, or forking over extra money to check luggage or buy a soft drink."
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