The climate issue has long since found its way into the music industry. This is hardly surprising, since touring means travelling from city to city thus exhausting emissions. In order to make concert tours as climate-friendly and environmentally friendly as possible, students from the POPAKADEMIE BADEN-WÜRTTEMBERG have developed the “Green Touring Guide” in cooperation with the “Green Music Initiative”, “Thema1 GmbH”, the artist manager Julian Butz (Neubau Music) and the “EnergyAgency NRW”. Tatjana Domany talked to FINE STAMMNITZ from the “Green Touring Network” how the guide helps raising awareness and which steps towards environmental sustainability can be taken by promoters, artists and fans alike.
What made you decide to compile the Green Touring Guide? What does environmental protection have to do with the music industry?
Fine Stammnitz: The “Green Touring Guide” to more environment-conscious touring for musicians, artists, tour managers, event organizers, event venues and booking agencies, which was produced as a result of the project workshop of the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg in cooperation with the Green Music Initiative, Thema1 GmbH, the artist manager Julian Butz (Neubau Music) and the EnergyAgency NRW, offers helpful impulses and practical recommendations for all those involved in the organization and implementation of a tour. The guide was published in 2016. It presents best practice examples of various bands that have toured in a sustainable way. Examples from Radiohead, We Invented Paris, Clueso and Jack Johnson are given here to serve as inspiration. “The Green Touring Guide” addresses the sub-sectors of mobility, venue, catering, hospitality, merchandise and communication.
The individual measures were evaluated and classified in terms of cost of implementation, speed of realization, communication impact and environmental impact. For each sub-area measures are presented that either can be implemented (directly) or serve as labels to identify the right partners* to promote the sustainability of a tour. In addition, there is a “Marketplace” section for each sub-area in which helpful publications and internet portals are presented. A reading of the Green Touring Guide is helpful and important for any actor who values environmental sustainability.
In the outlook of the Green Touring Guide it is pointed out that the guide is a further step towards establishing climate-friendly touring in Germany. Although there is a number of interested and committed players in the music industry who will implement the measures or are already implementing them out of a sense of self-conception, there will still be a large number of skeptics. Therefore, it is particularly important to carry out pilot projects – for small and large productions – and to encourage the actors to act in a more sustainable way. A major part of this is to communicate the measures and positive effects as widely as possible in order to raise awareness and broaden the actors’ perception regarding the urgency and positive aspects of more environmentally friendly touring.
Coldplay have recently announced that they will refrain from climate-damaging tours. Massive Attack is working with scientists to determine the music industry’s CO² footprint. Is environmental protection increasingly becoming a PR factor in the music industry?
Fine Stammnitz: When artists authentically communicate the issue of sustainability to the outside world, it can have an impact on the mindset and consciousness of fans and followers. It is important to maintain the usual tone and behavior that has led to fan loyalty towards the artists. Rather, the communication of the topic of sustainability should be a further component of the artistic identity that is being communicated and presented to the outside world without denouncing or condemning the fans for their behavior. Environmental awareness should rather be an issue that is integrated into all areas of artistic creation and the products that emerge from it, and should not convey a feeling of renunciation, but rather of added value.
This is important because the main contribution that the music industry can make to climate protection is to set an example and to present and discuss the issue. This can raise awareness in society of the issue of climate protection and implement society’s demand and claim to establish political decisions and regulations across all industries. This can lead to increased pressure on policy makers, resulting in concrete political regulations and improvements that can lead to the achievement of the 1.5 degree target. The key here is not to communicate the issue of environmental protection in a negative way, as the issue is generally already given a very negative connotation in terms of its massiveness and threat, which leads to deliberate ignorance.
In addition, communication about these measures and their inclusion in the artists’ communication concept can also be beneficial for the marketing and image building of artists. By implementing the measures and views into the communication to the outside world, the artists become more respectable for the fans and are therefore more likely to be seen as role models, which means an increase in fan loyalty. By creating events or special occasions that are in the context of sustainability or by documenting the ecologically sustainable implementation of events, they become more exciting for the fans. This means that an event with a story behind it and a positive effect on the mood of the fan is more likely to be remembered and the likelihood of fans telling their personal environment about it increases. This has advantages both for image building and outreach of the artists themselves as well as a greater impact on society, as there is also a greater likelihood that these fans will not only talk about the artists in their community, but also about the concept behind it and the issue of climate protection. The measures of the communication strategy should correspond to the artist’s personality and not deviate from the usual style or tone, because even if the topic is omnipresent and highly important, it will not have the desired effect if the communication appears artificial or forced. A real positive influence on the fans can only be achieved through authenticity.
Additional costs or a high outlay for climate protection measures can be a deterrent, especially for young artists and smaller event organisers. What can you recommend to artists and clubs or festivals, but also agencies, labels and management? Which measures can be implemented quickly, which ones have the greatest impact?
Fine Stammnitz: ROUTING: If a tour is planned for a longer period of time and there is enough choice, a van with low petrol/diesel consumption should always be chosen. This not only protects the environment, but also saves costs. If the tour is planned in advance: Avoid detours and zigzagging. One-off stops should be avoided.
TRAVELCREW/EQUIPMENT: Keep the travel crew as small as possible, pack efficiently and – if possible – share backlines with support acts. Local support instead of “brought along” tour support; local bands have a short travel distance and usually do not need accommodation.
AUDIENCE TRAVEL: Offer concert tickets with a combined public transport ticket, if this makes sense, i.e. if the target group is not likely to have monthly/semester tickets (ask the organizers whether this is done routinely). If so, a big step has been taken to ensure that the audience travels in a climate-friendly way. The venues should be centrally located and easily accessible on foot or by bike. Bicycle parking spaces should be available. This should be clearly communicated on the homepage, in invitations and on the event pages (e.g. Facebook). If it is not clear whether non-motorized travel is possible: ask the organizer and request to communicate this clearly. For event locations that do not have good public transport connections, the integration of a car-sharing agency on the homepage can be considered. In this way you can also attract visitors who cannot come to an event because they cannot travel to it, or you can use social media to encourage fans to travel together, for example.
CLUBS/VENUES: It is important and just right to promote those clubs that are already investing in climate protection – this will also reduce the footprint of your own tour. Green clubs are not always easy to identify, but there are a few points of reference such as the Green Club Index or Clubmob. Some venues communicate on their website that they are using green electricity. Otherwise you can ask the venues directly. The stage lighting should be LED, as they are more energy efficient.
GREEN RIDER: Seasonal and regional food reduces the CO² footprint, since no energy is wasted for expensive storage or long transport routes. Phrase to insert: the travel party is vegetarian, please provide regional, seasonal vegetarian catering or else a buy-out. please do not provide one-way plastic in any way.
ACCOMODATION: Use private accommodation or book hotels through www.bookdifferent.com.
MERCH: Pay attention to the use of high-quality materials, because the lifespan of a garment also has an impact on the environment: the longer T-shirts can be worn, the more climate-friendly. Good quality can also be a figurehead for the artist. Use T-shirts that have been certified as being produced ecologically or climate-friendly. Use vintage fabrics or upcycled materials: Textiles that are not newly produced, but are re-printed or sewn together are environmentally friendly.
PROMO: Increased use of paperless alternatives (social media, mailing list, etc.), 100% recycled paper as first choice; otherwise paper from environmentally friendly production. Use old posters as packaging/shipping material for new posters. Give old stage banners to upcycling workshops that make bags out of them.
Your recommendations focus on the touring/live area. Where do you see the biggest need for action on the part of the music industry?
Fine Stammnitz: The music industry can make a significant contribution to environmental protection. If the music industry manages to unite, to share concepts and knowledge, as well as to search for and find solutions transparently and without restrictions by usual approaches to certain fields of activity, this can serve as a role model for other industries. Artists can continue to raise awareness in society and advocate climate policy issues.
Thus, changes that start on a small scale, inspiring individual examples that go beyond the limits of original ideas, can have a major impact. If the music industry manages to set a good example, thereby stimulating and inspiring ever larger sections of society to change, this can ultimately have an impact on policy and actual changes in the overall social context. The steps here would be: monitoring the actual greenhouse gas emissions of the music industry, bringing together the artists and players in the music industry, creating an agreement on centrally set standards among the players in the music industry, realize international networking of the music industries.
Where can interested artists and their partners turn for further information? Where can green alternatives for transport, merchandise, promotion etc. be found?
Fine Stammnitz: The “Green Touring Guide” lists a few labels or platforms. Furthermore, artists and their business environment can contact the Green Touring Network for further advice: firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks for the interview!
Translated from the German original by Julian Schoenfeld