Can The Music Industry be Environmentally friendly?


After a summer of extreme global weather, there is no denying that our planet is in a climate catastrophe. Extreme droughts to flash flooding…we’ve had it all! It’s no surprise that all industries are under intense scrutiny over their carbon footprint. Or what is being done to become more environmentally friendly? How are industries striving to become net zero?

The music industry is by no means a newbie to scrutiny, especially in the environmental sense. For years, the music industry has been under the spotlight for the amount of damage it has done to our planet. Take a moment to think about the carbon emissions of a single concert at Wembley Stadium; that’s transport for 83,000 spectators, the build and construction of bespoke Stages and then the amount of single use plastic during the event….and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

A 2019 research study showed that 1,000 touring DJs alone released the equivalent energy to 20,000 households. For an outsider looking in, it may appear the music industry thinks they are above the environment, that what they bring to society through joy and entertainment is greater than the global environmental climate crisis we find ourselves in. However, that is not the case. 

The bigger the crowd, the greener the event

Imagine an event powered by the crowd…every step, every jive, every bop…an event powered by kinetic energy. Could the audience be the solution for live music and, is this what the music industry has been looking for in their quest for a greener future? Dutch company, Energy Floors began investigating this in 2006, however it has only really boomed onto the scene in recent months. 2008 saw the launch of the world’s first sustainable dance club, Club Watt, in Rotterdam. It is the world’s first energy producing dance floor, harnessing the frenetic power of dance to produce green energy, which in turn, powers the club. This technology has been propelled into the mainstream event industry thanks to the well-established Julie’s Bicycle, an organisation helping the sector become greener.

This year has seen momentum build like never before. Since the reintroduction of the events industry post covid, reducing carbon emissions has been a huge focus. Most notably amongst the big names in the music industry. Coldplay cancelled their tour until they could find more sustainable and eco-friendly ways of hosting a tour. The likes of Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, The Lumineers, Dave Matthews Band, Shawn Mendes, Maroon 5, John Mayer, Lorde, The Chicks, Jason Isbell and The 1975 all took decisive action to reduce their carbon footprint.

Coldplay’s 2022 sell out tour was powered by kinetic energy provided by the crowd with kinetic dance floors and stationary energy storing bikes. Musicians have always said that fans at a live gig provide a unique energy, the ability to give the band a jolt of electricity. Coldplay has harnessed that jolt quite literally. “If you want more, then you’re going to have to give more,” Chris Martin has been telling his fans, encouraging his fans to produce more energy which allows the band to perform for longer and louder.

In Glasgow, a nightclub trialled using partygoers body heat to power the entire venue as another solution to sustainable power.

What is clear is that slowly but surely the industry is tackling the issue, but the daunting prospect of climate change still weighs very heavily.

The real question is, who is pushing this change? It’s us, the real people…82% of music goers strive to be more environmentally sustainable. Music loving Gen Z and Millennials have never been so passionate about cutting carbon emissions, scrapping single use plastic and saving our planet. The Festival season is now sadly over for another year – if you were lucky enough to attend a festival, I highly doubt you were offered any single use plastic. Reusable cups, bamboo plates and wooden cutlery are all the rave. And as for plastic, for the most part, it has been booted out, making our raves, and festivals that little bit cleaner and a lot better for our planet.  

– Archie Dixon-Smith

The Verve Experience Podcast

Verve is an agency celebrating 30 years at the top of the events, experiential and marketing industries. This podcast pulls from that wealth of experience, giving key insights from the past, tips for the future, and everything in between.

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