Takeover Tuesday: How the music industry is becoming more sustainable

In this latest installment from our Takeover Tuesday blog series Charlotte, our Office Administrator looks at sustainability in the music industry.

The music industry produces 405,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK every year. Pre-pandemic, carbon emissions from festivals alone were rising dramatically year-on-year, with the live music industry becoming a high polluting sector.

Recently there has been a focus on understanding the environmental impact the live music industry is having on the planet, with the University of Manchester leading the way in research to create a roadmap to reduce carbon emissions. 

This is a step forward to making the music industry more sustainable but what is being done already?   

A move toward the use of digital platforms: 

laptop spotify

Moving away from CDs and vinyl records towards online streaming services such as Spotify has led to a huge reduction in the use of plastics. However, the transition towards streaming music has resulted in significantly higher carbon emissions than at any previous point in the history of music due to the huge amounts of data stored on servers and the energy needed to stream music on devices around the world.

Major streaming platforms are now making an effort to reduce their environmental impact; in September 2021, Spotify joined the United Nations' Race to Zero and committed to reaching net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030. 

The company has also shifted from traditional data centres to the Google Cloud platform, which Google states is a carbon-neutral platform. 

Artists who are making a change: 

coldplay concert

Some musicians are taking matters into their own hands when it comes to embracing sustainability.

The 1975 

In 2019 the band pledged to reduce waste of ‘fast fashion’ clothing by reprinting over old band merchandise. They reprinted new album logos on top of old, repurposed merchandise to reduce the fabric waste they are responsible for. They also gave fans the option to take their own band t-shirts to shows where they could have them printed on for free. 

The band also collaborated with environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, on their album, ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’. The title track features Thunberg giving a monologue over atmospheric melodies - the song has been streamed more than 7 million times on Spotify alone.


The band made their tours more environmentally friendly by reducing carbon emissions through several methods, including powering their shows from bicycles and electricity-producing dancefloors, building sets from bamboo, and planting a tree for every ticket sold.

Some standout stats from their latest tour in 2023:

  • They planted 5 million trees, one for each concert goer.
  • 66% of all of their tour waste was diverted from landfills.
  • They produced 47% less CO2e emissions than their previous stadium tour in 2016-17.
  • The power for the show’s production (audio, lighting, lasers etc.) was provided from an electric battery system that used 100% renewable energy.

Jack Johnson

Jack Johnson’s commitment to environmental sustainability is evident both on and off the stage. 

In 2008 he launched All At Once, a social action network based on the belief that an individual action, multiplied by millions, creates global change. 

He continues to pave the way in green touring practices; in 2017 his vehicles were fuelled by sustainable biodiesel where possible, concertgoers were offered mass transportation and bike valet options, waste reduction measures were expanded and single-use plastics were eliminated backstage. 

Festivals focusing on being eco-friendly: 

Outdoor festival


The UK’s biggest festival has always focused heavily on sustainability; in 2023, Glastonbury was powered entirely by renewable energy. 

In 2019 they banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles which has reduced the number of items of disposable plastic on site by millions and since 2000, they have planted over 10,000 native trees to support and enhance the local environment. 

The festival also focuses on monitoring the health of local ecology to control the risk of damage to local ecosystems.


Manchester's own Parklife festival has faced huge backlash in previous years due to the litter left behind requiring huge clean-up operations to deal with thousands of empty bottles, cans and other discarded items. 

In 2023 they implemented new measures to limit their effects on the environment including: 

  • Sending all reusable food waste to Open Kitchen MCR, a local project which turns unused food into meals for vulnerable people
  • Stopping vendors using single-use plastics and requiring the use of compostable cutlery, plates and cups
  • Using biofuel where possible
  • Encouraging the use of public transport to travel to and from the festival
  • Committing to be 100% paperless and cashless

A step in the right direction

The climate crisis requires collective action from individuals, communities, and industries; musicians have a distinctive role to play in driving this change. 

So, whilst there is still a huge environmental impact from touring artists and summer festivals every year, it is clear that there is a collective action across the music industry which shows a promising move towards a more eco-conscious music landscape.

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