APEX MENA conference – music session key take aways

On the 5th November I presented a session titled ‘The Value, Impact & Opportunity for Using Local Music’ at the APEX MENA conference in Dubai.

One of the themes of the conference was ‘localisation’ and I wanted to explore the use of Arabic label music on MENA based airlines and what the opportunities are.

To provide local music knowledge and market insight, I am grateful that Karima Damir, Artist Development and Marketing from Sony Music Entertainment Middle East and Sylvain Mahy, Digital Director and Publishing for Universal Music MENA both joined me as panelists.

In summary, my contention is that:

  1. There is a healthy growth in Arabic record labels and this is challenging the dominance of the traditional big two labels. New labels like Qanawat and Music For Life have emerged strongly and the major labels are now starting to invest and develop new local artists (see graph at below).
  2. However, the use of Arabic label music on MENA based airlines does not reflect this changing market growth and, yet, these airlines are clear in their interest in working with Arabic labels to ensure they get the best and widest representation of Arabic music on board their inflight entertainment.
  3. As a broad marker, most airlines music content will carry about 10% of local music, rising up to 40% for airlines with small inflight entertainment enabled fleets. Predominantly this is the Rotana catalogue and, while Emirates has regularly promoted the Dubai International Jazz Festival and Etihad the F1 Rocks festival and Qatar Airways the Royal Opera House performances, there are few examples of a MENA based airline committing to promote Arabic artists.
  4. We know from the great local music promotions run by Virgin Atlantic (George Ezra, Paloma Faith), Air New Zealand (Lorde and others) and American Airways (Austin City Limits) that these can work really well for airlines and labels/artists.
  5. And my view is that the opportunity is now there for established and new Arabic artists with MENA based airlines:


My panelists Karima and Sylvain definitely see the opportunity and some of the airlines I spoke to showed interest too. It would be great to see some new Arabic artist given full promotional support by a MENA bases airlines soon.

For a full review of the sessions, see the following link: APEX takeaways




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