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Crisis? What Crisis? Carbonism, Solutionism, and the (Un)sustainability of Music

Harkins, Paul



In June 2021, the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research published ‘Super-Low Carbon Live Music: a roadmap for the UK live music sector to play its part in tackling the climate crisis’. Commissioned by the Bristol trip-hop group, Massive Attack, the report recommended a series of targets to achieve the elimination of carbon emissions. While some academics have asked questions about how we can make music making more sustainable (Pedelty 2012) or suggested that musicians and fans can work towards environmental sustainability (Brennan 2021), I argue in this paper that the staging of music festivals and stadium tours, and the consumption of recorded music via streaming platforms will continue to be unsustainable. Like the restrictions that we had to live with during the Covid 19 lockdowns, more radical ideas may be required: a possible cap on the number of music festivals that can take place or a limit on the amount of recorded music that can be uploaded to Spotify. Rather than setting unachievable targets about carbon emissions or thinking that the climate crisis is something that can be solved by music businesses working together, we may need to move beyond the very idea of sustainability.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name XXII Biennial IASPM International Conference
Start Date Jun 26, 2023
End Date Jun 30, 2023
Deposit Date Oct 4, 2023
Keywords carbonism; climate crisis; music; music industries; sustainability
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