In December last year, a number of record labels based in the UK signed the Music Climate Pact in which they committed to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases by 50% by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2050. Signatories of the pact included the three major labels – Sony, Universal, and Warner – as well as indie labels such as Ninja Tune, Warp and members of the Beggars Banquet group. While its website spoke about the music industry acting collectively and with a unified voice and Paul Redding, Chief Executive of Beggars Banquet was quoted in The Guardian about the industry “pulling in the same direction on sustainability topics”, no quotes or soundbites were forthcoming from any of the major labels. This raises the question about whether this is an initiative that is largely driven by smaller labels rather than the majors who are also, presumably, the major polluters. In this paper, I want to investigate recent music industry initiatives like the Music Climate Pact as well as more established campaigns like Music Declares Emergency to explore exactly which actors and sectors within the music industry are driving the attempts to make the industries more environmentally sustainable. What have record labels been doing to reduce their carbon footprint and have major labels been slow to contribute to these initiatives? What has the live music industry been doing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions since the return of live music after the pandemic and has live streaming become a more environmentally friendly alternative to large scale touring? These are some of the questions I want to address as well as asking what these initiatives can achieve without addressing some of the larger problems being created by the global music industries.
Harkins, P. (2022, August). Beyond Sustainability: The Music Industries Declare Emergency on Planet Earth – or do they?. Paper presented at IASPM UK and Ireland Conference, University of Liverpool