Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Air time

When I talk to creatives about great sisomo (sight, sound and motion on screen), the conversation always circles back to our favorite music. I travel a lot and one of the ways I get through the nightmare of waiting, shuffling and waiting some more, is by listening to music (you can check out a typical playlist here). We all know how music affects mood and we’ve all been in supermarkets and elevators listening to what passes for mood-enhancing music. However, it seems to me to be more about stupefying people rather than uplifting spirits. Someone once famously said that “music hath charms to soothe a savage beast” and I think that Delta Air Lines must have been inspired to take that literally. Yes, Delta has started using music to speed up the process of getting people onto their planes. They got the idea when their cabin staff noticed that playing upbeat music inside the plane seemed to have a direct relationship to passengers getting into their seats faster. Now the Delta boarding playlist has something of a cult following with sites like CD Baby announcing new additions and replacements.

So what sort of music makes you head to your seat a little faster? Coldplay’s 'Strawberry Swing' and 'On The Radio' by Regina Spektor both do the job, and so does the well-named 'Come On Get Higher' by Matt Nathanson. No doubt we will see other industries go further with integrating music into their business with one set of playlists for test drives and a different selection for when the workshop is running behind time. It seems to me the Delta idea gets the best of both worlds: happy customers and faster delivery. By the way, the “savage charm” quote was by William Congreve, who went on to add that music could also “soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak”. Maybe construction sites should consider personalized sounds tracks as well.


Anonymous said...

Urban Legend I heard was Casino's make 15% on the background music, it's very much a "burble" & encourages slot machine addicts, not sure how true it is though.

Anonymous said...

re: "Now the Delta boarding playlist has something of a cult following with sites like CD Baby announcing new additions and replacements."

Apparently, Delta has spotted this and now posts its playlist as an iTunes-mix bi-monthly on its corporate blog. See for example:

Someone is getting it at Delta! ;-)

Piotr Jakubowski said...

I recently flew Air Canada, and really liked the mood lighting, that I'd experienced for the first time ever. The lights changed color depending on the time of day at our destination. Most of the flight they were a dimmed dark blue signalling night, but as we were arriving, the lights changed to orange. Made the trip a little more pleasant if you ask me.

Kevin Roberts said...

Yes, it stands to reason that when airlines understand they are in the people business, not the transportation business, the flight will actually be pleasant.

Piotr Jakubowski said...

Too bad the monopoly in the US is too large to identify this. I'm pretty sure if any of the Asian airlines entered the US domestic market, they'd make a killing in terms of service.