“No Music On A Dead Planet”: Is The Music Industry Doing Enough To Tackle The Climate Crisis?

Nieve O’Donnell

Music is a powerful tool that can be used for good. We all need to play our part if the planet is to survive.” The message of climate initiative ‘No Music On a Dead Planet’ rings out loud and clear. Nieve O’Donnell reflects on the project’s work to date and asks whether the music industry is doing enough to tackle the climate crisis.

The campaign ‘No Music On a Dead Planet’ brings together individuals and organisations within the music industry to declare a climate and ecological emergency. They’ve had a number of endorsements from music industry insiders such as Annie Mac and Arlo Parks by “using the advocacy power of artists to unite audiences in a clear call for action.” With the UK not currently on track to meet its 2050 net-zero target, the music industry is just one piece in a much larger puzzle – but is simply raising awareness enough?

The 1975 have been clear fore-runners in raising awareness for a climate and ecological emergency, joining forces with Greta Thunberg on their 2020 album Notes on a Conditional Form. The young activist made the news in 2018 when she began the Skolstrejk för klimatet (‘School Strike for Climate’) which quickly became an international movement, inspiring school students to skip classes on a Friday to participate in the strike.

The 1975 can bring Greta Thunberg to an arena stage but that doesn’t change the fact attendees are wearing unrecyclable plastic wristbands to signify entry

Each of the 1975’s albums have the same self-titled track which undergoes small changes over each album. The title track of Notes on a Conditional Form features a speech from Thunberg addressing the importance of dealing with climate change. Whilst it’s fantastic to see such a big band addressing the issue of the climate crisis, is shedding a light on the issue enough? The 1975 can bring Greta Thunberg to an arena stage but that doesn’t change the fact that attendees are all wearing unrecyclable plastic wristbands to signify entry.

‘No Music On a Dead Planet’ are doing brilliant things. Their goal has been to raise high-profile awareness and that has been accomplished. Their website states that “the fan response to artists who have already supported our message has been overwhelmingly positive. With national and international studies showing that the vast majority of the public support climate action, and with the opportunity for governments to direct post-Covid recovery funds into green jobs and infrastructure, there has never been a better or more effective time to speak out on climate… and the stakes couldn’t be higher.” It’s the role of corporations, governments, and music industry professionals to take responsibility for their consumption and carbon footprints.

At the beginning of this year, I sat down with cross-genre band Millie Manders and the Shutup and it was inspirational to see how much thought they put into their environmental impact as a band. They are at a point where, by Spring, 90% of their packaging is going to be recyclable, a feat which many larger artists with more resources are just not considering. Manders has even “spoken to companies about recycled plastic vinyl,” but found that “it’s not something that is financially viable to anybody yet in terms of mass production.” Within the music industry, Manders was completely correct in that “if more bands can come up with those sorts of ideas then we’ll all be in a better place.”

Considering these ideas, simply raising awareness doesn’t seem to be enough and it would be brilliant to see acts like The 1975 fostering and adopting similar ideas to Manders. The singer hit the nail on the head when she noted that, “for people to wake up and go, actually, what we were doing previously is really sh*t. Perhaps we should change our ways now so that when we are post-pandemic, we don’t go back to square one.” Apt in 2020, the pandemic has helped people to look at their individual impact through social media campaigns such as ‘No Music On a Dead Planet’ but institutional and corporate action is the only way to enact thorough, long-term change.

Nieve O’Donnell

Featured image courtesy of Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona via Unsplash. In-article image courtesy of The 1975 via Facebook. Image use license found here. No changes made to these images.

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