Last updated: 05:03 PM ET, Sat April 04 2015

American Airlines Embracing Indie Bands for In-Flight Music

Airlines & Airports | Michael Isenbek | April 04, 2015

American Airlines Embracing Indie Bands for In-Flight Music

Image courtesy of Thinkstock/Wavebreakmedia Ltd

American Airlines has gone indie, and, if initial passenger comments are any indication, this new in-flight music programming is a success, Mashable reported.

"Different types of music have been tried over the years," Brian Richardson, director of in-flight entertainment and connectivity at American, said to Mashable. "It wasn't changed very often. It was generally the same kind of soothing spa music every time you boarded or deplaned."

But the recently-announced $2 billion "customer improvements" investment by American included an initiative to change the in-flight music. Richardson said that "We started seeing more negative feedback with [the previous] music," Richardson said. "People didn't like hearing their favorite songs in that elevator-music style."

"One of the strategies we decided to employ was finding artists or bands that maybe many folks haven't heard of before," Hunter Goodson, a senior analyst of onboard product design for American, told Mashable. All card-carrying music fanatics, Goodson and his co-workers fleshed out new playlists with many of their own submissions.

"We were a bit limited with our selection [of piano music]," Richardson said, stating that frequent fliers and flight attendants were, logically, the most outspoken advocates for changing the tunes. "This now gets changed out monthly."

For May, AA passengers can expect to hear such artists as The xx, Youth Lagoon, Sylvan Esso, MS MR, Santigold, ODESZA, Broken Bells, Taken By Trees, Passion Pit, Washed Out and Parra for Cuva.

"We're ultimately introducing different types of music to people who wouldn't have heard them before," Goodson said.

There’s a method to the playlist, though. "Upon landing, the first song is most important," Goodson said. "We don't want it to be jarring or too loud. As the deplaning process [continues], the tempo picks up a bit quicker."

Currently the largest carrier in the U.S., this effort by American Airlines to improve customer experience is seen by the industry as an attempt to shore up a weak area in the airline’s overall service.

There's been "almost surprise," Goodson said, "that American has good taste in music." Some tweets by such customers can be seen below:

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