Sustainable music – a new way to stand out?

    Only a few elements in life have as much influence on people worldwide as music. From classical music to death metal, nearly everybody finds their escape somewhere within this broad spectrum of conserved emotions. The latest developments in the music industry are strongly trending towards streaming portals and away from live-performances. This blog post will elaborate on whether this development is going to create a more sustainable music industry.

    Latest developments in the music industry

    Frankly, it doesn’t surprise anyone that coronavirus has a significant influence on the music industry. Mostly, live performances and vast concerts of these superstars are on hold for a long time already. On the contrary, musicians become more creative by pushing their social media accounts to reach more people in their homes.

    Never before, people were ready to pay as little for music as they are today. Physical album and single sales are lower than ever; slowly getting replaced by cloud-hosted streaming platforms like SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloud, etc.

    How energy-intense is music streaming?

    The University of Glasgow, in collaboration with the University of Oslo, demonstrated how the economic costs of recorded music consumption have steadily fallen in recent decades. In contrast, its carbon emissions costs have soared. The cost of Music collaboration concluded that the amount of plastic used to make physical records has plummeted from 61 million kilograms in the 2000s to about 8 million kilograms as of 2016. As a result, they have concluded that the energy it takes to stream and download digital music has caused greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to rise sharply: Dr Matt Brennan estimates that music consumption in the 2000s resulted in the emission of approximately 157 million kilograms of greenhouse gas equivalents. For comparision, the amount of GHGs generated by the energy needed to transmit music for streaming is between 200 and 350 million kilograms.

    This study aimed not to tell people to stop listening to music via these streaming platforms. Instead it aims to encourage consumers towards more sustainable consumption choices and services that remunerate music creators while mitigating environmental impact.

    How to make more sustainable music choices?

    As for every other power consumption in our household, streaming videos or audios need electricity. Therefore, changing your electricity provider to a “green deal” is one way to lower the GHG emissions of the music industry.

    Such a change is more comfortable as you might think and can be done online with only a few clicks required.

    Another approach would be to support local artists. Numerous great singers and bands present their music regularly in local pubs and restaurants. One of our friends, the singer/songwriter Jake of Diamonds stated: “The current shift towards virtual music makes it even harder for small artists to get their share of the spotlight. Streaming portals are in favour of high traffic accounts, allocating most of their resources on to a small number of superstars.”

    Jake of Diamonds Music

    Once the pandemic allows for live performances again, Jake would wish for more people to have a stroll down to the local pub and give a listen to those talented musicians as well.

    What are artists initiatives towards more sustainable music?

    It might sound odd that artists can arrange their music to be sustainable on the first glimpse. However, musicians are nothing else than companies touring the world to present their music and shows to a broad audience. They can also choose BEV’s or biofuel-powered vehicles and tour buses, for example, like Dave Matthews.

    Adele is a supporter of Drop4Drop, a British charity to end water poverty around the globe. Nearly as opposed to carbon footprints as they are to conventional song structures, Radiohead is renowned for its environmentalism. In addition to joining causes like Friends of the Earth, they’ve made their tours as eco-friendly as possible.

    Pearl Jam is active in environmentalism since 2003. They engaged in several carbon emission mitigation projects and hired a scientist to calculate their tours’ carbon emissions. Meanwhile, they have donated USD 330,000 to non-for-profit organisations fighting climate change.

    The band Coldplay stepped up their environmental goals even further to cancel all tours until they can operate on a carbon-neutral level.

    You can find many more such initiatives on the Rolling Stone homepage.

    Other initiatives towards a more sustainable music

    Apart from the obvious measures to reduce GHG emissions mentioned above, some other aspects could significantly influence sustainability in the music industry.

    Sustainable festivals

    With music festivals and concerts often ending in complete havoc, especially these events have a lot of catching up to do. Festival Vision: 2025 is one think tank to reorganise festivals and concerts. Some of their claims include but aren’t limited to

    ·        fresh and regional food instead of classic junk food,

    ·        reusable cups instead of piles of one-way plastic cups,

    ·        integration of renewable energy solutions wherever possible,

    ·        etc.

    Overall they try to include environmentalism into the exciting experience of a festival – come together and enjoy the environment while listening to good music.

    Musician in a field

    Conscious Merch

    In our view, Merchandise represents two central standpoints: it can function as a souvenir – a physical memory of an event, or as an expression of art – to showcase what someone stands for. However, in any case, it matters how the merch is being produced and distributed.

    Merchandise in 2016 accounted for a total sales volume of USD 3.1 billion. Roughly 20% of the global sales volume for recorded music within the same year. These numbers truly stand for their own and express how much potential there is for environmental improvements.

    For that reason, many bands have started to care more about their merch. Beginning at the supply chain and how it is shipped and transported.

    What is your favourite singer/band and in what way are they caring about the environment?

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