SAS Scandinavian Airlines has announced a new rewards programme initiative allowing all its EuroBonus members the ability to book concert tickets via LiveNation, the world’s largest concert search engine. In many cases there will be access to advance tickets, which are released before general on-sale dates, offering exclusive benefits to the membership. The arrangement is one of a range of initiatives being taken to enhance the membership benefits of loyalty schemes.
- SAS will offer concert tickets across Scandinavia and exclusive pre-booking opportunities to members of its EuroBonus loyalty scheme;
- The Scandinavian airline is already quite aggressive at using music for marketing purposes;
- This is part of a trend in which thought leaders in the business – airlines and airports – have seen the advantages of sponsoring and working in partnership with music events;
- A CAPA – Centre for Aviation report – ‘Airlines, airports, tourist organisations and the music business – the case for greater co-operation’ – highlights a clear overlap between the aviation and music industries that could be better exploited.
Initially, around 30 events per annum will be offered in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. LiveNation Sweden MD Therése Liljedah says she sees “a clear trend that people travel more and longer than ever to visit our concerts and events,” which makes such a strategic alliance with SAS “as logical as it is exciting”.
While offering tickets to such shows as part of a loyalty package is not new this represents a smart move by SAS, which correctly perceives the Nordic countries, and especially Sweden, as one of the premier stages in the world for live musical events.
Sweden (10 million population) is actually the 12th largest music market globally by retail value and Norway (five million) is 15th. But the impact of Sweden in particular is much greater and it is considered to be the world’s third strongest musical country after the US and UK.
Annual events across Scandinavia include the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway and the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm, which is regarded as the ‘Nobel Prize of Music’, as well as individual festivals such as By: Larm and Øya in Norway, Way out West and Live at Heart in Sweden and Roskilde in Denmark in addition to a full range of individual shows in all major cities. And that’s not to mention classical performances, variety shows, musicals, operas and others.
The partnership with Live Nation is a step in SAS’s strategy to meet the increased demand for ‘personal experiences’. In the 2017 report from CAPA – Centre for Aviation – ‘Airlines, airports, tourist organisations and the music business – the case for greater co-operation’ – it was pointed out that the Norwegian division of SAS is already very proactive in promoting music as part of its service.
SAS Norway is indeed one of the most ‘hands-on’ in the business. The highest concert in the world was performed onboard an SAS Braathens aircraft in 2008 (41,000 ft). While that might be regarded as gimmickry, a partnership concluded in 2016 between SAS Norway and Universal Records (part of UMG, one of the world’s three largest record labels along with Sony Music and Warner Music Group) is anything but.
Under that agreement, one artist per month is promoted by SAS by way of (inter alia) an onboard concert or a performance in an airport terminal. In the example below, SAS teamed up with Norwegian singer Julie Bergan for a concert and catwalk show staged on a baggage carousel.
The SAS Norwegian division has focused increasingly in the past few years on combining sound, music and travel within its communication. Apart from concerts at airports and performances on aircraft, it creates its own Spotify playlists. (Spotify is based in Stockholm, Sweden, and is thus a logical choice for a partner in music streaming activities). It is through the branding SAS Live Music, however, that it is breaking new ground.
The findings of the 81-page report included that both the air transport business and the music business are very large ones in terms of size, scope, revenues, employment and global impact. Musicians need to travel, often internationally, in order to collaborate, record and perform, even to seek inspiration.
There is thus a propensity for an overlap between the two industries which can be exploited by the aviation and tourism communities but it is one that, despite the fact that the music industry often outperforms the general economy, all too often escapes airlines and airports which tend to leave marketing, promotion and other activities to tourist boards or their equivalent.
SAS is one of the most active airlines in using popular music as a marketing tool, along with the likes of Icelandair and WOWair (Iceland Airwaves and Secret Solstice festivals respectively), and to a lesser extent Aer Lingus, which promotes a traditional Irish Folk Music festival in Dublin each January, in the off-season.
Many airlines though have little or no interest in the medium, although increasingly some are seeing benefits – Brussels Airlines and the Tomorrowland electronic dance music festival held in Boom, Belgium and special trans-Atlantic flights from European and US majors for the SXSW South by Southwest event in Austin, Texas, USA come to mind.
Talking about Austin, in the airport sector, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is the among the most active in the music scene. Alongside SXSW, the city is home to the Austin City Limits events and its air gateway features in-terminal performances around the year. Another is Canada’s Montréal Trudeau Airport which does much the same in support of jazz and other festivals, and their are other examples.