What is the environmental impact of streaming music?

Posted on: April 23, 2021

“Against the backdrop of Earth’s deepening climate emergency, a source of hope for what lies ahead persists in the musicians who’ve at least tried to directly address the emotional toll of living in perilous times,” write Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding in Monday’s (4/20) Vulture. “Musicians addressing the environment head-on only represents one side of the music industry’s engagement with the climate crisis. The way we listen to music impacts the environment. Streaming music uses a significant amount of energy, even though the technology seems to make sound feel immaterial. Kyle Devine is author of Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music, which traces ‘the history of what recordings are made of, and what happens to those recordings when they are disposed of.’ For Devine, recognizing the effects of the recording industry on the natural world and its reliance on human exploitation offers a chance to rethink our relationship with music, and drill down what we really value in a musical experience.” In an excerpt from the Switched on Pop podcast, Devine speaks to Sloan about the hidden costs and ecological impact of LPs, 45s, cassettes, and CDs; downloading and streaming; and data-driven music.