The climate cost of live music: can’t we at least sort the basics?

Isn’t it time we can all at least sort the basics? The pandemic put a hold on live music and events, offering a complete reset – a clean slate to restart, reopen and renew our commitment to a happier, healthier planet.

The live music industry is notorious for being harmful to the environment. With the large carbon footprint that comes hand in hand with venues, travel, waste (paper, cans, plastic), power and merchandise we’re all more than aware it is an issue that needs addressing.

While there have been some incredible step changes in the sector, in some areas as an industry, we’re still not always getting the basics right.

Thanks to certain artists (looking at you Coldplay and Massive Attack), organisers and agencies, we essentially have been handed a footprint to the future - a handbook that we can all learn from and adopt in some shape or form. And while there are certainly some that are putting an incredible effort into making a difference, and really endorsing change there are too many lagging behind.

Over the last few weeks we have found ourselves in venues and arenas when even the basics aren’t covered e.g. recyclable waste isn’t even separated from general waste in backstage areas like dressing rooms and production offices. We’ve been hearing about recycling cans and paper since the early 90s - anyone else remember the Blue Peter rap about sorting cans and bottles into ‘special bins?’’ So why is this not second nature by now?

We get that seismic behaviour change takes time, but as an industry we need to be encouraging progress by collective change. We are fortunate enough to work in an industry that attracts captive audiences for hours at a time, providing a platform that can truly help influence and inspire action. But, we need to showcase best practice if we want others to follow suit.

We’re not expecting everyone to power their shows with pedal power and kinetic dance floors (why not combine your workout with a live gig?!). However, there are everyday changes that we’ve all made at home to be more environmentally conscious and sustainable and it is high time that we take those changes on tour.

Wondering where to start? Here at Fused, we started with simple steps to take as a team to reduce our carbon footprint and some core principles that can easily be applied no matter who you are, or what you’re doing.

Recycle. If you can’t recycle it on tour, take it home with you and recycle it where you can.

Reduce paper. We’ve moved to paperless billing and invoicing. We only printing essentials, and where printing is required we use recycled paper.

Limit travel. Travel is a problem area, so wherever possible we manage meetings and briefing sessions virtually.

Reduce food miles. When organising catering, we focus on finding local caterers that use local, seasonal produce to reduce the miles from farm to fork.

Sustainable transport. We always consider our transport options, can we car share, is there a sustainable mode of transport that can get us there? If there’s a greener method that gets us from A to B then that’s the solution.