The Brag Media
News April 9, 2019

Streaming music could be worse for the environment than CDs & vinyl

Streaming music could be worse for the environment than CDs & vinyl

Australia will be one of four countries to screen a documentary that shows that streaming and downloading creates a worse carbon footprint than CDs and other physical format music products.

Screenings will take place also in the US, Canada and the UK between April and June.

The documentary The Cost of Music is based on a report of the same name released yesterday by the University of Glasgow and University of Oslo.

The global music industry is using less plastic these days in the making of music but is environmentally more disruptive.

Associate professor in music at the University of Oslo and the report’s lead researcher Dr Kyle Devine pointed out, “From a plastic pollution perspective, the good news is that overall plastic production in the recording industry has diminished since the heyday of vinyl.

“From a carbon emissions perspective, however, the transition towards streaming recorded music from internet-connected devices has resulted in significantly higher carbon emissions than at any previous point in the history of music.”

In 1977, at the peak of the vinyl long player’s sales, the US recorded music industry used 58 million kgs of plastic, which translated to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of 140 million kilograms.

That rose to 61 million kgs of plastic in 2000 – or GHGs of 157 million kilograms – when sales of the CD format peaked.

That dropped significantly to 8 million kgs by 2016 during the downloading and streaming era, with researchers estimating GHGs generated between 200 and 350 million kilograms.

Dr Devine pointed out that while these figures might indicate that digital music had a lower carbon footprint, the energy used to power online music listening is high.

“Storing and processing music online uses a tremendous amount of resources and energy – which [have] a high impact on the environment.”

Economically, the report also found that music lovers are paying less for their music, but at what cost to the planet?

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