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Musically sound

How the music industry can impact climate change

Do you have a favourite band and have you been to see them play?

Many bands are now playing in concerts to spread the message about climate change, such as the Live Earth gigs in 2007. Many green campaigners argue that it is the industry itself and the stars’ celebrity lifestyles that are contributing to carbon dioxide emissions. So how does the music industry contribute to global warming?

Rocking all over the world: Making music miles

Recording £3,500

Video £40,000 - £60,000

Remixes £5,000 - £10,000

Merchandising £9,000

Video plugger £2,000

Radio plugger £3,000 - £5,000

Posters £3,000

Stickers £1,500

PR (press) £2,000

Promo copies/postage £3,000

Website £10,000

Manufacturing costs (50p per CD) £20,000

Songwriter's royalties £11,000

Total £113,500

This is the estimated cost of producing a hit single in the UK. But what are the costs to the environment of these stages of production?

Download the diagram of the life cycle of a single 

Look for the negative impacts on the environment. How could these impacts be reduced or avoided?

To tour or not to tour

The last section was just about the production of a single, think about the making of the video and publicity material. What about the tour and the music festival? Modern day music festivals can be like temporary cities - they can cause traffic congestion; cars, trucks, tractors and generators emit CO2. They can cause noise pollution, land damage and water pollution. With festivals like Glastonbury having 150,000 people living together in a field, issues such as the management of waste are becoming increasingly important.

Recently, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke said he was seriously concerned about the effects of international touring, especially air travel, had on the planet and was considering travelling to festivals on the train.

Plan a 3 minute video to go with one of your favourite songs.

What message will your video give to other music fans? Will it:

  • focus on a concert or festival and the ways in which they could be made greener?

  • persuade people to download all their music, instead of buying CDs?

  • be about one musician and their lifestyle - flying around the world?

  • or have a general message about what people can do to reduce their carbon footprint?

Download the storyboard to plan out your scenes. Remember it has to tie in to the song you choose. If you have a digital camera, can you film any of the scenes with your song?

Find out more:

A green festival website has been set up to help festivals and events get greener.

Read about the rock stars’ lifestyle:

The Daily Mail

The sale of CDs has fallen in the last few years as digital downloads have become more popular. Downloads to mobile phones, computers and music players now make up a tenth of global music sales. What is the future for the CD with its big carbon footprint?

Do you buy CDs or download the music you listen to? Will you travel miles to see your favourite band or will you persuade them that touring the world is not being globally cool?