Artists are without doubt the most influential people within the music community supply chain. Artists who have a drive and passion for protecting our environment can play a critical role in avoiding greenhouse gas emissions in the first instance.
Avoiding emissions falls into four broad categories:
1. Playing gigs;
2. Recording & publishing;
3. Merchandise; and
4. Influencing fans.
1. Deciding how often to tour
This involves getting the right balance between playing in front of your audience and minimising the frequency of touring. Determining when is the most effective time to tour (i.e. on the back of a new album) will help reduce the kilometres you travel.
The golden rule here is to maximise stage time with your audience while limiting the number of tours you undertake each year.
Every tour produces greenhouse gas emissions – a tour travelling from Cairns down to Melbourne and across to Perth with 12 shows and 15 artists and crew generates about 150 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (the same emissions created by 18 Australian homes over a one year period).
2. Deciding where to tour
This can be a tough one because you want play in front of all your fans whether they live in the city or outback. In many cases scales of economy will dictate where you play, however you still need to consider which venues to play at, and how far apart they are.
When deciding where to play think about how many people you will play in front of at each proposed venue. If you can, do a number of shows in the same area to reduce travel distances. Also see if you can arrange gigs in nearby towns and regional centres to maximise your audience while keeping excessive travel requirements to a minimum. If you intend to play remote areas (and no doubt these fans will love you for it), then you may need to move down the energy hierarchy and look at energy reduction and offsetting options.
To help with your emissions planning refer to the following considerations:
• Determine if you can exclude any tour legs (maybe due to extensive distances needed to get there or because likely ticket sales may not justify the travel, costs, etc)
• Accurately map out the tour route to allow you to ascertain exactly how many kilometres will be travelled;
• Identify opportunities to avoid travel kilometres by choosing the most efficient route (i.e. is the coast road a shorter distance than the inland highway?);
• Consider the spread of tour dates and allow for additional shows (to take place concurrently) if you happen to sell out in a given town or city (you don’t want to travel to a city only to have to return in 5 days time to play a second or third show).
Depending on where you plan to perform it is possible that 2 or 3 legs of a 12 show tour could represent up to 50% of your total tour emissions. Limiting travel between venues not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions it will also reduce your overall tour costs.
Recording & Publishing
Avoiding emissions in this area requires some hard choices and/or innovative solutions. The obvious one is not to record and publish albums but of course this is generally not a viable solution for artists and bands.
More realistic options to consider include:
1. Redesigning the CD packaging (i.e. move away from plastic jewel cases to something less energy intensive such as cardboard, etc);
2. Releasing music electronically which avoids packaging entirely.
Here is one that usually falls off the emissions radar, merchandise. In fact there is very little by way of statistics internationally or here in Australia that can point to the size of the problem. But rest assured, like all manufactured products music related merchandise creates emissions. The question is how much?
How do you avoid such emissions? Well you avoid generating merchandise. If marketing and selling merchandise is important to you as an artist then investigating the following points can help to avoid excessive emissions:
1. What materials are used in your merchandise range?
Can materials with a lower carbon footprint be used (i.e. replace plastics with cardboard where possible).
2. Where is your merchandise produced?
Is it made locally or in a far off destination. You can avoid significant transportation and distribution emissions by manufacturing locally.
Influencing your fan base and generating positive publicity involves:
1. Knowing a bit about the climate change problem
Understanding some of the issues around climate change, and more importantly some simple solutions that fans can put into practice to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is a key step to changing people’s behaviour.
2. Shout it from the roof tops
Let the industry, media, fans and government know how you feel about climate change and the impacts it will have on people and the environment. Artists are in an incredibly unique position to transfer important social and environmental messages to huge numbers of people. A bit of knowledge and passion will result in massive emission savings across all of those you touch.
3. Practice what you preach
Apart from an artist’s ability to reach large segments of the community, the other major influencing factor is to actually show people by example, how to avoid, reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions. Turning up to a gig in a hybrid vehicle sends a very powerful message. People notice these things.
Remember, influencing people to make small but significant changes in their lives to help tackle climate change has the ability to avoid more emissions than is generated by the entire Australia music community…