We all know there is no music on a dead planet, so we've partnered with Sound Country to bring you the ultimate guide and highlight how you can be a climate activist in the Aus music industry.
As climate change looms overhead, more industries are reevaluating how their everyday actions might contribute to the overall climate crisis. Fashion industries have taken to lowering consumption, and coal industries are attempting to switch to renewables, but what can the music industry do?
We’ve joined forces with Sound Country, an initiative created by Green Music Australia, to provide an easy guide on how you can better impact the planet when participating in all things music! Split up into three sections for your convenience (Fans, Industry and Artists), the guide provides clear tips and tricks to help you become an active participant in the music industry's climate fight.
Punters have the easiest job, right? Rock up and enjoy the event! While that might be the case, there are still things that concert-goers can do to mitigate the impact that the music industry has on the climate.
Here's what punters can do to help lower emissions at gigs and shows:
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Skip the plastic cups and bring an empty reusable water bottle to fill up on-site.
Public Transport To The Show
One of the largest emission sources for gigs is audience travel to the show. Getting public transport or riding your bike can greatly impact the feasibility of gigs in a climate crisis, not to mention that it's way cheaper!
Take Your Waste With You
Major gigs (especially festivals) have an ongoing issue of litter across venue sites. Join Party With The Planet and pledge to minimise the impact on the environment. Better yet, if there is a compostable or biodegradable option - pick that!
Connect With Country
Artists are often tasked with carrying out a Welcome to Country, so it’s important that you provide your full attention as a punter. Not only is it respectful, but it’s an opportunity to connect back with nature - a crucial component of understanding and mitigating the climate crisis.
Berish Bilander, CEO of Green Music, is passionate about the role that music lovers can play, commenting:
"If every fan took simple green steps like catching public transport to shows, supporting more First Nations artists and joining campaigns like BYOBottle and Party With The Planet, audiences would help create a massive wave of positive change in our scene."
"Audiences can make a huge difference by getting behind artists who are championing sustainable practices. We are all in this movement together - celebrating the green actions of your favourite band can motivate and inspire others to do the same."
Visit Sound Country and their interactive map to find out more info on how you can help as a patron.
On a massive scale, Coldplay's most recent tour was said to be a pioneer in renewable energy, cutting their emissions in half from their previous tour. The band implemented many different sustainable changes, including renewable diesel, solar photovoltaic panels, kinetic floors, & a rechargeable show battery in partnership with BMW.
In an ideal world, every musician would have the budget and support that Coldplay receives to turn their tours into climate-positive events. Even so, there are loads of other ways that artists can use their cultural standing to push for change in the industry.
Here’s how Artists can support action for the planet:
We’re not all up for attending the ARIAs with ‘People over Profit’ scrawled across our chest (Go Montaigne!), but everyone can push for change in their own way. Advocate for climate-positive options through your platform on social media, on stage at gigs and through conferences and speaking opportunities, and wherever possible, lead by example, taking concrete actions like bringing your own reusable water bottle, shifting your money to an ethical bank or signing the Music Climate Declaration. Artists have a voice that can reach thousands of people and carry the ability to change culture and form history. Make sure that you’re using yours to its fullest potential.
Support First Nations Stories
A really important one is to Support First Nations artists and acknowledge Country before gigs - or better yet, get a Traditional Owner to do a Welcome To Country.
Green Music Australia offers an incredible resource on how musicians can deliver an ‘Acknowledgement of Country’ with suggested wording, practice and other possible ways to involve First Nations people respectfully. You can access that here.
If you feel like it fits within your creative spectrum, make your art a political statement. Your voice can carry so much further when it’s placed into a medium so many people enjoy, such as music. First Nations artist Carissa Nyalu has said, “Music is a powerful medium to communicate and has the ability to heal. And that includes healing Country too.
“First Nations people have been using music for tens of thousands of years to share knowledge & wisdom and to connect & care for Country, so it is amazing to see the Sound Country Guide recognising this and ensuring our voices are heard.”
Turn your studio/office into a green space by adding plants, draft-proofing your windows and doors, choosing energy-efficient equipment, switching to a green electricity provider and using blinds and windows to control heat and light during summer and winter. All of these small actions contribute to an overall greener planet.
Psychedelic Pop Band, Sunfruits have been testing ways of making their music practices more sustainable and have nailed their execution.
“With Sunfruits, we try our best to be green in all aspects of running the band. We always use compostable merch parcels for our t-shirts/tote bags etc. We also don’t use shrink-wrap plastic on our records (thanks to Third Eye Stimuli for helping us out with this). We also request a single-use plastic-free backstage/green room area on our hospitality rider.”
Artists have the power to create cultural change through action and words. Reminding fans of their responsibility to make a change is a powerful tool that we all underestimate.
Even though the music industry is a blanket term that encompasses so many different jobs and responsibilities, its size and scale might make it the most important group of all in addressing climate change.
From artist managers and publicists to marketing gurus and label heads, so many people contribute to the big machine that is the music industry. That’s why the people behind the scenes need to consider their part in creating a more eco-friendly industry. Note: If you’re a budding artist wearing a million hats right now, these will probably apply to you too!
Here's what industry can do to help lower emissions:
Consider Your Partnerships
If you're organising a festival, planning a tour or organising a sponsorship for your artist, think about what partnerships will benefit your artists AND the environment. Companies that are B-Corp certified, First Nations owned, or green accredited are leagues ahead in their sustainable practices, and partnering with them sets an industry standard that will become the new norm.
Open The Dialogue
Even though you might have your sustainable practices down pat, there might be others you deal with regularly that need to catch up. Open up a dialogue with them and chat about how they can improve. The nature of dialogue isn’t judgemental; rather, it creates a conversation on how we can challenge existing frameworks and improve them together.
If you’re ever lost on what guidelines to follow, Green Music Australia provides a valuable Green Venue checklist to help you navigate how each business can improve their sustainable practices.
Touring is one of the largest sources of emissions within the music industry; therefore, it’s one of the most important things to consider when looking after artists. Attempting to map out your touring route and look for ways to remove or redesign high-emission legs will drastically improve the sustainable feasibility of the tour.
Different modes of travel will also produce different levels of emissions, i.e. travelling via plane versus an electric car (hint: the EV wins out every time). Sound Country have some very useful resources that will guide you towards making better decisions about touring.
When organising merch, try to make sure that it's created with ethical and sustainable standards in mind. While the cheapest option might be the most tempting - it won't pay off in the long run. Plus, merch that uses sustainable materials is often more durable, meaning die-hard fans get to fan girl over their favourite artist's merch for way longer.
Sound Country has stated, "The problems we face are hundreds if not thousands of years in the making. They are rooted in the story we tell ourselves about being separate from, rather than belonging to, Country. Consider how your work reinforces or counters that story” We are inextricably linked to Mother Earth, our only home in this vast universe. If we’re to avert the worst effects of climate change, every decision we make needs to consider how to protect this home. After all, there is no music on a dead planet. The music industry is such a wonderful place because of the collaborative effort and passion everyone puts in to create a community where people can come and enjoy music in all its forms. Let’s put the same collective effort into saving our planet.
For more resources on how you can be a greener music industry participant, visit Sound Country and explore their interactive map, which has all the tools you’ll need to become a climate warrior.
Sound Country has been supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria