News & Views

APEX TECH “Fireside”

I was invited by APEX to speak more about the challenges in the provision of music in-flight entertainment (IFE) at APEX TECH on Thursday (5th February) in Los Angeles.

Michael Childers of Lufthansa Systems and an APEX Board Member hosted the “fireside”, which was billed as:

‘Challenging Industry Expectations Through Music Rights Licensing
Music provisioning in IFE has undergone tremendous change and challenges in recent years with damaging legal issues, headset quality, and challenging new licensing terms. Iain Kemplay, a London-based consultant and music rights licensing expert, will discuss why the current provision fails and how a different delivery infrastructure can make better use of technology to more directly engage with passengers and provide a more complete and compelling journey experience’.

It was a great opportunity to speak about the many and considerable hurdles undermining the current provision of music IFE and the passenger experience and to shine a light on the way to move forward.

Music Licensing Expert Proposes Solution to Increase In-Flight Audio Engagement


Licensing music for inflight entertainment – current market guidelines

Licensing the use of music content for IFE has always been challenging for the IFE industry and this became more so as services developed from analogue to digital, from linear to interactive, from physical media to multiple digital platforms and for a production process which became increasingly multi-territory.

Since late 2013 and continuing over recent years, the major record labels and some prominent independent labels have taken action against content service providers (CSPs) and airlines for the unlicensed use of their music. There have been law suites, take-down notices, substantial settlements and new licensing arrangements as the music industry strongly challenged and disrupted the use and availability of music content in IFE.

Despite this period of turmoil there does not appear to have been any substantive published material produced since Michael Childers’ great article ‘A Tutorial On Music Royalties in IFE’ in the ‘Avion’ magazine back in Q2 2010. Childers’ article provides a comprehensive review of music copyright, it’s purpose and how it is managed.

‘Licensing music for inflight entertainment – current market guidelines’ is a new document which looks to develop from that article and explain, highlight and provide guidance on the new licensing landscape.

And why is this important for the IFE industry?

Music content remains a key part of IFE and music is omnipresent in all our lives and much loved and highly valued.

Music Matters is a collective of artists, retailers, songwriters, labels and managers formed to remind listeners of the significance and value of music and they have produced some excellent short videos to highlight this:

There is a legal requirement to license the use of music and the licence fees paid help support the creative music industries to continue to produce great new music and provide income to the creators (the artists, composers, producers), their labels and publishers.

When the necessary licences are not in place, there is disruption and limitations on the music which can be provided to passengers, there is an exposure to legal action, the need to pay settlements and the concern of reputational damage.

Many CSPs and airlines now operate under the new licensing arrangements but not all and licensing gaps and issues continue to exist, which need to be looked at and resolved.

Please see the PDF document to learn more.

It would be great to get feedback to it, to be challenged, to learn new things or thinking – nothing stands still!

Licensing music for inflight entertainment




APEX members fill in the blank on the technology that will change PaxEx

Great to be given the chance to contribute to this piece in the current issue of the APEX ‘Experience’ magazine.

See the article in full below of via LinkedIn link

Personalisation of IFE content, online streamed access to own Spotify, Netflix et al accounts, growth of AR, the value of data and all across the whole travel experience – that’s the thinking!

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




Membership to APEX

Time to launch into stage three of my odyssey through the use of music in inflight entertainment (IFE).

Recently Kemplay Consulting joined APEX, the Airline Passenger Experience Association. APEX is a membership trade organization comprised of the world’s leading airlines, technical and other services suppliers, covering among other things the provision of IFE.  See the link to learn more: APEX

This will allow us to provide services and continue to discuss with the IFE industry about the ongoing and new service types of music content. The last few years have seen a transformative change in the supply and licensing of music for use in IFE and it remains a challenging and complex area for airlines, their content service providers (CSPs) and music rights owners to step through. We will be providing services to airlines, CSPs, systems providers and music rights owners on the use of music in IFE services.

The journey of discovery began while I was at PRS for Music in 2011 and we began a ‘lifting the lid’ project on how airlines, with a particular focus on those in the Gulf States, were licensed for the use of music onboard. What we uncovered was that the licensing of music was incomplete, inconsistent, disparate and failing to meet the requirements of both the airline industry and music rights owners.

But where there is challenge there is also opportunity and I found myself well positioned to work with Global Eagle Entertainment, the world’s largest CSP provider of IFE services, to introduce industry defining new music rights licensing structures. It proved a fascinating and illuminating experience and gave me a deep understanding and insight into the licensing of music for IFE, the technical provision and delivery of music content to the airlines and the new ways music could be used on different media platforms through the whole travel experience.

And now for stage three and time to make use of the knowledge, experience and insight I have acquired and turn it into offering the following services:

Strategy – 

Strategic guidance on the provision of music in IFE and the development of new music content services.

Licensing – 

Expertise in defining music licensing requirements and delivering the best industry licensing solutions.

Music & Partnerships –

Working with labels and music content suppliers to look at new and more compelling ways to provide music content both within IFE and throughout the full travel experience.

Audit & Compliance – 

In a continuing environment of challenge and potential exposure to liability, to carry out comprehensive audits and compliance reviews of the extent to which appropriate music licences are in place.

Deserved recognition for IP entrepreneurs in Abu Dahbi

It is a couple of months since it was published but it is well worth checking out the article Cashing-in-on-ideas published in the UAE’s Gulf News on 19th May.

Worth checking out if you have an interest in the creative industries in the UAE and are looking for signs of the rumoured green shoots in the desert and to then consider if there is sufficient ground water to sustain creative output.

The article sets out the UAE’s real and well funded interest in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in business, recognising the vitality of innovation to developing new business structures and market opportunities and the positive impact this can have on the economy. Two of the Abu Dhabi companies highlighted as recent beneficiaries are the music publisher and services company PopArabia and Trucial States, the film and television production company, both based and started through investment initiatives with twofour54.

I have known and had the pleasure to work with PopArabia’s founder Hussain ‘Spek’ Yoosuf for over three years, while I was at the UK music rights organisation PRS for Music. It is great to see the progress he has made in establishing the UAE’s first fully fledged music services company, representing many of the worlds biggest international publisher catalogues. He is a genuine entrepreneur and has worked hard and with vision in a difficult landscape for music companies and intellectual property (IP) owners, so this is a merited and well deserved public recognition.

In the article, Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development is referenced on how innovation is vital to the economy and for setting out how the UAE offers assistance, advice, support and training to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

This is exactly what entrepreneurs and business will be glad to hear but in relation to music and media the ‘support’ needs to extend to the the implementation of the UAE Copyright Act so that the intellectual property rights that both companies own and represent will be recognised and respected by the businesses which use their rights and content.

The longevity of success that both PopArabia and Trucial States will be looking for is inextricably linked to the creators who create the great music and film and animation they own and represent and rely on for revenue. Until creators rights are better recognised, respected and valued then the realisation that this is a viable profession offering a secure environment and proper reward (royalties are the salary of creators) is not developed and this will undermine the level of creativity being generated locally and impact on the interests of the UAE government to develop local content to reflect the wellbeing of it’s society and culture.

Both companies will struggle to realise their full potential and to be able to value the investments they have made, while the potential investment of international media businesses could well be compromised as they consider the lack of supporting industry structures which help respect and value the use of their intellectual property.

This announcement of the emergence of PopArabia and Trucial States reflects well and now renewed attempts to develop the ecosystem of intellectual property rights ownership and management in the UAE need to begin. For the time being it is a brave place to be and a very difficult one to prosper in.