Music Industry Climate Summit: Highlights of the Sustainability Event

Last Monday (Feb. 5), about 300 people from the music industry gathered at The Novo Theater in downtown Los Angeles. – the climate summit of the North American music industry ever. Outside, sheets of rain fell during an unusually heavy storm in Southern California, adding urgency and purpose to an event to inspire the music industry to take meaningful action on the problem.

Organized by the Music Sustainability Alliance (MSA) — a nonpartisan organization that serves as a sustainability convener and resource for the entire industry — the Music Sustainability Summit featured eight hours of panels on climate-related topics, from fan travel-related carbon emissions to the environment. Responsible food sourcing at events. Participants were encouraged to bring their own water bottles and lanyards, hand reusable cups and a plant-based lunch served with bamboo plates and cutlery.

The event marked an important moment for the music industry's relationship with climate change, the first time leaders from all sectors of the industry came together to discuss the issue and commit to making systemic change. The excitement surrounding the event – ​​which had to move to a bigger venue to accommodate the interest and drew a bigger crowd despite bad weather – proved that the industry is keen to become more sustainable, desperate and using the platform of music to inspire and motivate. A cultural movement for climate action.

Beyond knowledge sharing, the Summit succeeded in bringing together stakeholders in the music industry's fight against climate change, strengthening and expanding this community and developing a collective knowledge base. The summit was hosted by Joel McGover, a business sustainability expert and journalist whose depth of knowledge was matched by a thoughtful, often funny demeanor that brought light to an often existential-seeming problem.

„The good news that we don't hear enough about is that we already have solutions to climate change that work and are affordable,” noted one panelist. “How do I know this? Because we have it down to a science.

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(The summit was held under the noise house rule, which dictates that anyone attending a meeting is free to use information from that meeting., But it is not allowed to reveal who made any particular comment. This rule was enacted to allow summit participants to speak freely and make the event more impactful. advertisement board was a media sponsor of the summit and agreed to comply with this provision.)

MSA representatives say advertisement board Following the summit, there is a plan to continue the momentum by creating working groups. MSA – Headed by President and Co-Founder Amy MorrisonDirector Eleanor AndersonCo-Founder and Board Member Michael Martin and board member Kurt Langer — Acts as an administrator of these groups, bringing people together, organizing meetings and taking notes to ensure conversations flow into action.

MSA hosts monthly webinars to focus on specific issues. A poll from next month will include a poll on how the industry can use its sites to encourage viewers to be climate-minded voters. The summit will become an annual event, held annually the day after the Grammys. In addition, MSA is working on accessible online content, including an updated resource guide and other educational materials.

Music Sustainability Summit 2024

Music Sustainability Coalition staff Kurt Langer, Amy Morrison, Eleanor Anderson and Michael Martin

Gilbert Flores

An important part of the program is that employees of competing companies engage with each other in the pre-competition environment, share information and take the necessary steps for all companies to meaningfully address climate change. The summit demonstrated that these pre-competitive conversations are possible, with a panel featuring chief sustainability officers from Live Nation, AEG, ASM Global and Oak View Group, all of whom told the audience they were friendly with each other.

Here are some of the many things learned at the inaugural event.

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The music industry has been heavily influenced by the issue

Although it is not yet clear how much carbon emissions the music industry is responsible for, the figure may be relatively small compared to other industries. But the industry's influence on climate change is huge, and as many speakers influence music culture — and the hearts, minds and motivations of listeners — the effect the industry can have on the issue is enormous.

„Music creates culture,” noted one speaker, and determines „what things are normalized in culture.”

Artists can do a lot, but they can't do everything

There were many conversations about the impact artists can have in terms of educating audiences about climate change and motivating fans to take action. These conversations observed that authenticity is the key to successful ventures and that fans find it very inspiring when artists take action with them. Billie Eilish's sustainability efforts were cited several times throughout the day, including the statistic that the actions of 130,000 fans during her last tour resulted in Eilish's climate change efforts.

However, these discussions suggested that artists cannot shoulder the burden of responsibility alone, that everyone in the industry must take responsibility for initiating action, while working with legislators.

Practical solutions are now available

A presentation on waste management notes that four billion single-use cups are thrown away at live events every year. But the music industry is spearheading the recycling movement in America with one company R. Cup – It provides reusable cups at venues and festivals and has eliminated 43 tonnes of plastic so far. Both AEG and Live Nation have used successful reusable cup programs at various events.

Emissions: Fan travel is the main issue

In terms of energy use, the diesel-fueled group said the fastest way to decarbonize the music industry would be to remove diesel generators from event venues. While this move is currently prohibitive and not yet feasible, the team emphasized that the technology to do this is coming, as it would require a massive infrastructure upgrade for most traditional rental companies to accomplish.

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The conversation included the use of HVOs (renewable diesels) that reduce CO2 emissions by 90%, and talk of the preference for existing batteries instead of diesel generators for ancillary applications such as parking lots and site lighting. Batteries and generators are also discussed.

During the panel, it was noted that fan travel contributes to 50-80% of carbon emissions in the music industry, many festivals take place in remote locations, and many cities connected to the grid do not even offer public transportation. . The dialogue highlighted the need for promoters, venues, festival producers, fans, artists and municipalities to work together.

Food is an important piece of the puzzle—and action can happen now

As animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, deforestation and air and water pollution, a food-based group demonstrated that the industry – from mass-stage concerts to video shoots, award shows and meetings – can affect this in a positive way through the plant. – Based catering and concessions.

It was suggested that even large venues that source food from large, national distributors could open a plant-based concession stand to a local business or allow this business to park a food truck outside. Changing menus to include plant-based options is doable now, and is a good place to start in terms of action that has the potential to change people's daily food choices.

Support and feed, an organization founded by Eilish and Finneas' mother Maggie Baird, works to mitigate climate change and increase food security by stimulating global demand, acceptance and access to plant-based food. The food group also cited Eilish's last tour as saving about 8.8 million gallons of water by switching to a plant-based diet.

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