The physical stuff - CDs, vinyl, merch - produce the best profit margins for artists, by far. But it's also the most hideous for the environment, and the more you sell, the worse your footprint. So what's a musician to do?
Zoe Keating stopped selling merch for this very reason. "I'm an environmentalist and felt I didn't want to create any more junk," Keating told Digital Music News late last year. "When I went down the route of playing music, I said to myself, 'I'm going to sell music and not t-shirts.'"
"Now I'm Learning to Love the War," Father John Misty.
Keating is surviving just fine, and just 8 percent of her revenues come from physical recordings. Yet for or the rest of us, it almost seems like artist survival depends on selling complicated physical recordings, collectibles, and other environmentally-unfriendly keepsakes. In other words, stuff that will last a lifetime, or more accurately, several lifetimes.
On a broader level, maybe the good news is that digital assets continue to push physical towards the periphery. And there are even some solid arguments for why vinyl is healthier for the environment than digital (seriously, it's worth a read).
But the buzzkill on all of this is that digital may actually be worse for the environment than physical, according to early findings. The reason is that we're now listening to more music in more places on more devices, from a 'cloud' that actually boils down to a massive server farm with massive energy needs.
And given that most music isn't purchased, isn't listened to, and isn't recognized, why are we overproducing so much as a musical community? Is 'making more music than ever before in human history' a good thing?
jdestro2 Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I don't think T-Shirts and CD's are "environmentally destructive". Music-logo T-Shirts are no more destructive than any other article of clothing, and people enjoy wearing them. What's the problem? Also; if I like a CD; I don't throw it into a landfill. I keep it and listen to it. When I'm tired of it; I pass it along to another music lover. If artists can still make more money by selling their music on CD's than by digital downloads; they should do it, and as a consumer; I like having the choice of formats. Finally; yes, it is a good thing that digital technology has enabled more people to record and share music than at any other time in history. If the vast server farms that enable internet transmission of that music are consuming mass quantities of energy that negatively affects the environment; then we should focus on developing more energy-efficient server technology--not creating less music!
spassky Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Big data has a huge environmental footprint. And I agree with the other comment and the opinions about the environmental impact of vinyl -- it's all reused or worn to a thread. It's being used. If it's being used, it's not being wasted.
KylaF Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I wish you could all see the stacks and boxes of unwanted promo cd's that I have received in the mail. All unsolicited I might add, and the majority of them are mediocre at best (and that's a kind assessment). For every talented artist pumping out a quality cd or album that people do actually want and has pass along value there are tons more medicore artists pumping out crap that no one wants that will end up in the landfill. It breaks my heart everyday when the mail arrives.
what an idiot Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Zoe Keating should ask her friends at Intel for a tour at an Intel factory and then report back with the findings.
Visitor Wednesday, September 26, 2012
It's not as if streaming and downloading and computers and personal playback devices and cellphones and pads are environmentally friendly. Especially when people are driving to "need" to "upgrade" at remarkably brief intervals.
We're kidding ourselves about this right now, and unless technology makes huge leaps of efficiency, the environmental destructiveness of server farms and personal gizmos will be a serious issue for this new system, putting a whole new light on physical media and dedicated playback machinery that lasts for decades.
Yeah, nobody remembers what a "decade" is, because the culture has ADHD. But time will remind us.
Visitor Thursday, September 27, 2012
Did anyone read that free UK MusicTank report? http://www.musictank.co.uk/resources/reports/energy-report
Or this: http://blog.advaoptical.com/is-the-cloud-turning-green/#more-1499 - really interesting peice by
Interested to hear ppl's thoughts