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4 Ways The Music Industry is Helping The Environment

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4 Ways The Music Industry is Helping The Environment

Date: Jun 24, 2021
Author: Sarah Valencia 223 No Comments

When listening to music, we usually veer the attention completely towards the art and the artist, right? But have you ever thought that behind the process of producing it, distributing it, and let it get to you there might be a few things that could be more sustainable? Over at MMM we enjoy everything just a little bit more if it comes with a side of sustainability – it feels fresher and perhaps even more guilt-free. We previously gave a shoutout to REVERB, the company helping artists make a greener place out of their tours, on our Sustainable Celebs piece and felt inspired to continue on this quest for efforts the industry can do to help the planet.

Because music can be one of the best companions when doing your traveling of choice, such as sustainable travel, transformational travel, and adventure travel; we did some digging to unearth what the music industry is doing to ensure they are doing their part to build a more sustainable practice.

Music Declares Emergency

One thing that comes with music is without a doubt exposure and fame. Whatever artists do with these elements can tarnish or restore their careers, and whatever statements they release can truly make a difference when it comes to making an issue visible. Music Declares Emergency is a collective created by several musicians that are looking to take a stand and demand governments and companies to be more sustainable and outspoken about their practices.

MDE, for short, adopted the motto “no music on a dead planet” and released a declaration with 4 key aspects they live by, the fourth being “We acknowledge the environmental impact of music industry practices and commit to taking urgent action”. A heaping 2,616 artists have already signed their pledge to make the music industry greener while also advocating for the environment, including AURORA, Brian Eno, The 1975, and Tegan and Sara, just to name a few. Their web page also includes a Take Action section which promotes many environmental organizations to support, and recommendations to follow directed at labels, artists, promoters, and studios among others, in order to achieve a more sustainable practice.

An education of Decomposed musicality

In 2019, Kyle Devine, a musicology researcher at the University of Oslo, released his book Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music, which revolutionized the way we perceive the new era of streaming as opposed to the previous materially heavy times. Devine tells the story of how music used to be made and distributed in resin, vinyl made from petrol and eventually plastic compact discs, cassettes, and tapes. Now, we see music as an immaterial good that hangs in the air like an elusive idea, but is it really?

Devine goes as far as to explain that today’s music, which is mostly just data in the cloud, entails storage space, batteries to sustain this space and therefore energy. Despite it being intangible, music streaming has actually doubled its CO2 emissions in comparison to its previous plastic and petroleum counterparts. He also makes points regarding the comeback of vinyl and how certain businesses are influencing music listening for it to stay as unsustainable as it is, but we recommend you read the book in its entirety in order to get the full scoop!

Although this one might not spark joy and a sense of relief from the music industry, a relevant part of creating change is knowing the source of the problem to know where to start from.

The Vault of solutions

There are, however, solutions to the above problem! An innovative initiative called Vilvit (Vault in English) saw the issue of music storage and came up with a convincing and resourceful solution: mass storing in a sustainable place. Pronounced ‘velvet’, this Norwegian initiative offers musicians and streaming services in general a storage space that is powered by wind and hydraulic energy. They argue that companies using their own separate storages use up more space and energy than necessary, as well as sources that might not be clean at all. They claim, and we agree, that “taking care of nature is also very often the path to more innovation and better business conditions […] The answer lies in better infrastructure for uploading, archiving, and distributing files for a true digital workflow”. We hope this can materialize for many streaming services!

Judging a book by its (packaging) cover

As we have mentioned, distribution companies and labels have everything to do with the direct impact of the music industry on the environment. This topic was exactly one of the subjects that environmental scientist Dr. Allen Hershkowitz and music executive Mike Jbara talked about recently at the Music Ally TV show. In between things the industry is lacking and the stands they should be making, both of them reminisce of the time they worked for Warner Music Group and how they pushed for packaging to be more sustainable in order to cut on harmful waste. Jbara, a former executive of the label, mentions how educating employees and passing on environmental information to artists was key for the idea to be more accepted. While plastic packaging was associated with a ‘more premium’ treat, board and paper packaging started to take over the industry (which you may have noticed if you have gone to a record store lately) thanks to efforts labels like these have done. Additionally, they mentioned how much money this switch saved the label, which can’t hurt anybody!

We believe that personal growth is both influenced by art and how we take care of our planet, and the clash of these elements can make for a more conscious way of living! We hope this reading has brought light to otherwise undiscovered efforts made from all corners, this time the music industry, to help the environment heal and made your listening experience a much more environmentally conscious one.

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