Why Airlines Shouldn’t Mess With Musicians

Read two cases where artists fight back after airlines’ harsh treatment


Case Number 1  Dale Watson and Tiger Airways

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Dale Watson at Byron Bay’s Bluesfest 2011

It happened on Dale Watson’s most recent Australian tour – 2011.  He and The Lone Stars were accompanied by 120 CDs for sale on the tour – an important source of revenue for the Texas-based singer as he played various venues across Australia, including two performances at Australia’s biggest festival – Bluesfest.

His ordeal with Tiger started when his baggage was lost on a flight during his Australian tour.

Attempts by the musician and his Australian representative Karl Bergersen to be compensated involved dozens of unanswered phone calls and numerous broken promises.  The delay of several cheques was blamed on ashclouds and the airlines grounding.

Aside from the lost CDs, one of his band members had to pay $500 to get his pedal steel guitar on a Tiger flight.  I remember his Bluesfest set containing criticisms of Tiger’s customer service.

This is one tale that has a happy ending, though.  Tiger Airways finally bowed to pressure from the singer seeking compensation.  The Singapore Airlines-backed carrier finally confirmed it had repaid Watson the $2000 wholesale cost of the 120 CDs and the $500 excess baggage charge for the lost cargo.

‘‘We have covered the excess baggage and we’ve come to an agreement with Dale … [to cover] the wholesale cost of his package,’’ said Tiger spokesman Simon Murphy.

‘‘We see it as a one-off,’’ he said.

But after being pursued by Watson for four months, the payment came too late for Tiger to stop the aggrieved country musician from posting a clip online of his song Tiger Airways – We Don’t Careways.

Murphy gets a special mention on Watson’s song for being part of the airline’s unhelpful public relations team.

Let’s hope that Watson’s tour in November 2013 goes a little more smoothly.  I am looking forward to seeing him in Melbourne this Saturday (Caravan Music Club, Oakleigh) and Sunday (Northcote Social Club).  I wonder whether he and the band will be flying Tiger Airways this time around?

Here’s Dale’s clip



Case Number 2 – Dave Carroll and United Airlines

Carroll is a Canadian musician who, when traveling on a United Airlines flight, had his guitar broken in the stowed luggage.

After being refused compensation, or even an apology by United, Carroll took to social media to get some redress.  He created a funny and catchy tune and posted it on YouTube.  It was viewed by a million people after just four days.

It turned out to be a public relations disaster for United.  By the time it had offered Carroll compensation, the company had lost control of the situation.

By July 2013 his videos had more than 250 million impressions and more than 15 million views on YouTube.  Meanwhile United’s share price had dropped by 10 per cent (at least in part to this matter).  Carroll even has a book about his experiences – United Breaks Guitars: The Power Of One Voice in the Age Of Social Media as a result of the tale.

Here’s Dave’s tune:

Sources: Dale Watson – Sydney Morning Herald July 21 2011

and Dave Carroll – GRC Professional Winter 2013


Read two cases where artists fight back after airlines’ harsh treatment

Read two cases where artists fight back after airlines’ harsh treatment

Read two cases where artists fight back after airlines’ harsh treatment

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Author: Rob Dickens

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