A musical step to save the planet

Not only limiting plastic during concerts, setting up own foundations, promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle, or writing songs. Musicians are taking another step to fight climate change. Recurring concerts and new album premieres show new ways of dealing with the crisis.

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Writing songs whose main idea is to draw attention to the situation on our planet is nothing new. It has been known for many years to create music that expresses certain messages. Creating ecological songs as early as the 1980s caught the attention of a wider audience, for example, Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song.”

However, recently artists are paying more and more attention to the difficult situation, also trying to direct their actions in such a way as not to waste tons of plastic or significantly reduce the carbon footprint. As it is known, the music industry and popular music are synonymous with a large sum of money, where it is easy to forget higher purposes. Therefore, the activities of world-famous bands can contribute to changing the mindset of people.

Before the musicians had to cancel their tours due to the pandemic, many of them tried to do something for the planet during traveling around the world and playing concerts. Among others, Milky Chance joined forces with Eden Reforestation Project. Thanks to this, for each ticket purchased, one tree was planted. So far, more than 80 thousand trees have been planted thanks to this action.

It is known that artists profit from the sale of records: the more records, the more money. But also the greater the harm to the planet, as more and more plastic is produced. And the musicians also receive music recording certification, which confirms these numbers. For example: In the United States, 500 thousand records sold are gold, one million platinum, and 10 million are diamond. Therefore, some artists have decided to either completely abandon the sale of albums or change the approach to this. One of such artists is Lorde, whose latest album, “Solar Power,” only contains cardboard, paper, and download code. Each album is carbon-neutral. Emissions were offset by planting trees, so assured the artist.

It seems that a good solution is to use streaming services. However, as Kyle Devine’s research shows, listening to music from them is also very disastrous for the planet. The amount of plastic used to make physical records has fallen from 61 million kilograms in the 2000s to about 8 million kilograms in 2016. But the energy it takes to stream and download digital music has caused greenhouse gas emissions to rise. Currently, the energy needed to transmit music for streaming is estimated to be between 200 and 350 million kilograms.

Musicians not only make a living by selling records, but a large part of their careers is also touring, especially for the most famous, where the organization of the world tour is a huge undertaking, and thus, great harm to the planet. That is why some people have given up touring or are trying to do it in a more sustainable way. One of such bands is Coldplay, which stopped touring two years ago. After this period, a new tour was announced. The next one will partly be powered by a dance floor that generates electricity when fans jump up and down. So basically, when they move, they power the concert. Also during the concerts, there will be bicycles to do the same. Just like Milky Chance, Coldplay will also plant a tree for every ticket sold. The team created a 12-point plan that includes, among other things, creating a set with materials picked for their environmental credentials, restricting air travel, and introducing an app that will allow fans to plan their journeys to and from the show with the lowest possible emissions. Even with many changes, it is still not possible to cut the environmental impact of some parts of touring. However, creating an entire show using renewable energy seems like a big step towards change.

The music industry is trying to change the approach to non-ecological behavior, but fighting the entire system is very difficult. Taking steps is often associated with losing money, which many musicians are not ready for, choosing the easier path. However, the examples of many musicians who set their goals for their own interests show that music can also give hope. After all, art should bring people together for the greater good, which has been successful many times in the past.

Anna Marek

Sources:
Milky Change: Tickets for trees
BBC: Coldplay: Band ready for backlash over the eco-friendly world tour
Rolling Stone: Is streaming music dangerous to the Environment?
Stuff.co.nz: With a plastic-free album, Lorde confronts the hidden carbon of data

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