From buying CDs and streaming music to partying at multiple-stage music festivals with big-ticket prices, much of the media spotlight has been cast on the carbon footprint of music fans.
In today’s milieu that calls urgently for sustainable development, how do the professionals in the music industry stack up in terms of their ecological footprint?
Associate Professor Chan Tze Law (Vice Dean, Professional Integration) of the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YST) at the National University of Singapore believes that the music business is already making good headway on sustainability.
He says: “The industry is already aligned with the environmentally friendly movement. Some actions include the management of waste at large music gatherings and limiting of the use of plastics.”
Indeed, a good example was the “Rock the World – Save the Planet” concert held in Dubai last November. Organised by Neutral Fuels, a company that converts waste into biofuel, the concert had “net-zero emissions” and was powered entirely through net-zero biofuel, waste recycling and carbon offsets, among others.
The music industry is also looking at additional ways of being more sustainable, adds Teo Shao Ming, who performs with the Singapore Armed Forces Band: “Catering for transportation to concert venues may be one effective way to curb carbon emission. Another is having organisers source for eco-friendly merchandise. This is also a great way to promote eco-friendly products such as organic cotton items and reusable bottles.”
But more can be done by the industry, adds Prof Chan. “Much more research is required to address issues such as the environmental impact during music performances, the location of these performances and how people reach them, as well as the energy use of music technology and reproduction,” he says. “This is a challenging one. There are no easy answers.”
NSman takes a look at some ways that the music industry is tackling the sustainability challenge.