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American Airlines Courts The Youth Vote With "Indie" Boarding Music

The world's largest airline is hoping to up its cool factor with the sounds of Foster the People, The XX, and other "indie" jams. "Not everyone’s a fan of indie music, of course, but even some of the uninitiated are curious about the new tunes."

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For American Airlines, it is not, in fact, hip to be square.

The world's largest carrier is hoping to capture a younger demographic with new "indie" themed playlists for its boarding and exit soundtracks. A representative for the airline also said in updating its cabin music, American is seeking to familiarize flyers with "lesser-known up-and-coming artists such as The xx, Phantogram, M83 and Haim."

"For 2015, they sought out a style of music that's upbeat yet not distracting, helps American stand out from the competition and appeals to younger generations," the American Airlines representative, Barbara Delollis, wrote on an internal AA blog.

American was highly selective in building its new cabin playlists (published below), Delollis added, and not just any old song "you might find on the iPod/Spotify of a Gen Xer or Millennial" made the cut.

"American adopted a new style of cabin music that might surprise you," Delollis wrote. "It's known as indie music, and you can hear it on all mainline and some regional aircraft that have inflight entertainment systems."

The change was also spurred by customer feedback regarding its previous cabin music lineup, which consisted of instrumental versions of pop songs, Dellolis told BuzzFeed News. And so far, it's not just the in-the-know kids who are loving it.

"Not everyone's a fan of indie music, of course, but even some of the uninitiated are curious about the new tunes," she wrote.

Also on the blog, Brian Richardson, senior manager of American's inflight entertainment and connectivity, added that American's customers are excited for the change.

"The instrumental versions of pop songs had become tired and people were ready for a change. Our hip, indie music couples well with our new, state-of-the-art aircraft cabins," Richardson said. "We've seen customers on aircraft take out their smartphones and use the Shazam app. Who would have thought that we'd be introducing some people to these indie artists?"

Mariah Summers is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Summers reports on hospitality, travel and real estate.

Contact Mariah Summers at

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