What would you give to see your favorite band in concert? How much would you cash out to see their songs performed live, rather than just played full blast on your car stereo? If you are a Beyoncé fan, her average ticket prices usually don’t dip below a hundred dollars The same goes for Chance the Rapper, the Weeknd, and Justin Bieber tickets. If you are trying to see Taylor Swift on her two date U.S. tour, I wish you the best of luck finding a ticket priced less than six hundred dollars, adding up to a whooping average of $3.50 per minute for a three-hour show. Cashing out the money to see your favorite artist is not budget friendly, yet music lovers across the globe accept this steep price tag on their entertainment, as fans continue to sell out stadium after stadium, night after night.
The financial burden of seeing a live show may not come as a surprise to you, but have you ever considered the environmental cost of our global music fanaticism? I surely hadn’t, until I read the news that Coldplay had decided to postpone touring their most recent album, Everyday Life, until they can find a way to make their shows not only carbon neutral, but “actively beneficial,” Lead singer Chris Martin told BBC news.
In a video interview with BBC news, Martin shares, “We’ve done a lot of big tours at this point. How do we turn it around so it’s not so much taking as giving?” This environmentally conscious attitude toward the music industry is so uncommon, that it causes us to stop in our tracks and ask ourselves, what is the environmental impact of a world tour? How bad could it be? If I want to be a good steward of the environment, should it come at the cost of my Lizzo tickets?
According to the Green Touring Network, it may be worse than we imagined. The most recent measures conducted by Julie’s Bicycle, a London based creative Environmentalist charity, states that the live music industry produces approximately 446,436 US tons of greenhouse gas emission in the UK annually. Shockingly, the U.S. has no stats on the environmental impact of the music industry, so we will need to use our imagination to equate that to the music scene on our home turf. The same study found that per show, live stadium and arena tours emit approximately 28 US tons of greenhouse gas. When considering the total impact of merchandise, equipment, lights, concessions and travel for both musicians and fans, concerts begin to seem like an environmental nightmare.
Although not a common stance, a handful of influential musicians are taking after Coldplay’s environmentally conscious attitude toward the harmful effects of touring. Five time Grammy winner, Billie Eilish is using her global platform to help champion environmental consciousness, recently announcing that her 2020 world tour would focus on being not only environmentally sustainable, but also educational. Eilish shared her vision on Jimmy Fallon saying, “There will be no plastic straws allowed, the fans are going to bring their own water bottles. There’s going to be recycled cans everywhere, because it’s like, if something’s recyclable – it doesn’t matter unless there’s a recycle bin.” In addition to the interview, she released an emotional call to action titled, “Our World is on Fire” now boasting 3.6 million views on Youtube.
When researching this topic, I was reminded of Oliver’s post about the humanitarian and financial cost of the Nashville Soccer Club’s new stadium. He reached the conclusion that we as global consumers of entertainment are willing to give almost anything for the love of sports. I believe his sentiment is not only true, but applicable across multiple entertainment industries. When viewing the music industry through this lens, the price is steep. Live music is a highly cherished experience across the globe, and is considered the pinnacle of musical entertainment. It has the power to unite, and move us emotionally, but at what cost? How much longer will we continue to cash out money to see our favorite artists for a few hours at the cost of 28 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per show? In a world spiraling toward environmental demise with each day, these are the questions we will need to begin asking ourselves. What luxuries will we be willing to sacrifice for survival as we strive to save humanities only home? Time will only tell.