Seattle-Tacoma Airport showcases the city’s music culture in an innovative way

By Vivek Mayasandra

Seattle, the unofficial capital of the US Pacific Northwest, is a city well-known for its coffee, rainy climate and vibrant and influential music scene. The city is home to several culturally significant bands, labels and venues, and world-renowned artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, Quincy Jones, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and the Foo Fighters have all called Seattle home.

To showcase the region’s music culture, Seattle–Tacoma International Airport at the end of January 2012 launched the SeaTac Airport Music Initiative (video here). In the airport’s own words, the initiative will “enhance the traveler’s experience by utilizing speakers and screens airport-wide to feature a diverse variety of Northwest music” and will allow travelers to “hear artist-read public announcements, enjoy curated videos on terminal and baggage claim monitors, and listen to a multi-channel web radio player available through the free airport Wi-Fi network.”

Commenting on the program, Seattle’s Mayor Mike McGinn said “Seattle is known around the world for its music culture, so it’s great to see this identity embraced and showcased to all the travelers going through the airport.”  The program is a cooperative effort between the Port of Seattle (the authority of SeaTac Airport), Seattle Music Commission and ‘in-store entertainment provider’ PlayNetwork, created with the aim of “celebrating and further enhancing [Seattle’s] renowned culture of music.”

Artist-read announcements
Among the highlights of the Experience the City of Music program are Seattle-based artists such as Sir Mix-a-Lot reading off safety and international announcements, Pearl Jam’s Eddier Vedder telling travelers to “keep carry-on and checked baggage in their possession at all times,” Heart’s Wilson Sisters welcoming military and military families as well as Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell reminding travelers that “smoking is allowed on the lower drive outside the building and only in designated areas.” Examples of announcements here. In addition to overhead announcements from local artists, video screens throughout the airport feature items on the various  artists and play their music.

Music players
Visitors at the airport can also plug into an online multi-channel music player available via the airport’s free WiFi, and which features genres such as rock, electronic, urban, soul, pop, folk, jazz and blues. The music station plays a rotating list of about 100 songs and local musicians can also submit their own entries. SeaTac Airport’s spokesman Perry Cooper also mentioned that the airport wanted to “make sure that it’s music appropriate for all ages” and that [the airport] wouldn’t “play anything between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., and will start the mornings with mellower fare.”

The SeaTac Airport Music Initiative has also been taken to mobile with a free Android app that features access to the PlayNetwork music playlist, videos and local concert listings, so that “travelers and homebodies alike can take the sounds with them beyond the airport doors.”

The program kicked of on January 28th with live bands performing at the baggage claim area in the arrivals hall and on the Sound Transit Link light rail trains that connect the airport with the city (images here and here.


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