Billie Eilish Rectifies Vinyl Variant Drama

2 April 2024 | 12:25 pm | Emma Newbury

"I wasn't singling anyone out, these are industry-wide systemic issues."

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish (Source: Supplied)

More Billie Eilish More Billie Eilish

After being accused of attacking notable artists who have released several vinyl colour variants to promote an album, Billie Eilish has spoken to Billboard to clarify her claim. 

Less than a week ago, the What Was I Made For singer-songwriter teamed up with Billboard to discuss environmental factors in the music industry for the publication’s sustainability issue. This segment was supposed to spark meaningful conversations in the industry and get people and artists thinking about how they can create greener and more ethical practices. 

One of Eilish’s prominent suggestions was to decrease the number of vinyl variants we are seeing for the release of an album.

“We live in this day and age where, for some reason, it’s very important to some artists to make all sorts of different vinyl and packaging … which ups the sales and ups the numbers and gets them more money and gets them more…” Eilish was cut off by her mother, who pointed out how the vinyl variants help artists rise on the charts.

“I can’t even express to you how wasteful it is. It is right in front of our faces, and people are just getting away with it left and right…” she stated. 

“It’s some of the biggest artists in the world making fucking 40 different vinyl packages that have a different unique thing just to get you to keep buying more,” she continued. It’s so wasteful, and it’s irritating to me that we’re still at a point where you care that much about your numbers and you care that much about making money — and it’s all your favourite artists doing that shit.”

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

People were quick to speculate if Eilish was lashing out at someone in particular, with Olivia Rodrigo, Harry Styles, and Katy Perry being just a few of the artists who released their last album in multiple colourways.

The big name that everyone unanimously had on their minds, however, was Taylor Swift. Most of Swift’s albums have several variants. Her latest project, The Tortured Poet’s Department, has five vinyl variants. The catch is that each variant has an exclusive song, prompting fans to buy all five. 

While Eilish did not specifically point this out, instead making more of a generalised claim, fans believe that Swift’s boyfriend and athlete Travis Kelce took to Instagram on March 28th to defend Swift. Kelce commented under a post about the TPD album:

“These covers are awesome. There’s nothing wrong with me wanting all of them, right?”

Eilish wanted to no longer be dragged through the mud for trying to take a stand environmentally, so she took to Instagram stories to rectify her Billboard article. 

“I wasn’t singling anyone out,” she wrote. These are industry-wide systemic issues. When it comes to variants, so many artists release them—including ME! which I clearly state in the article.” 

“The climate crisis is now, and it's about all of us being part of the problem and trying to do better”.

Addressing sustainability issues is fitting for Eilish - the singer has been on a plant-based diet since age 12, and her mother is the founder of Support + Feed, which encourages a vegan diet to fight climate change. However, readers were quick to point out that Eilish has released several vinyl variants herself for most of her discography. Eilish was quick to nullify this, stating that her latest album Happier Than Ever was released on 100% recycled black vinyl, meanwhile, the limited edition colour variants were made using recycled scraps. 

Eilish’s mother, Maggie Baird, was quick to reiterate that using several vinyl variants is a systemic issue for artists who are trying to make a profit and climb the charts as if fans are purchasing multiple variants, they are contributing numerous stakes.

It is also worth noting that the push towards vinyl variants is aimed at the industry’s shift into making more VIP products and experiences aimed at the average superfan. However, it can come at the cost of overconsumption. What both mother and daughter seem to agree on, though, is that there is a limit to how many vinyl colour variants are too many.