New Study Asserts That Music Streaming and the Vinyl Revival Are Both Bad for the Environment


Despite whatever harm it may or may not have done to the music industry, one would think that a positive benefit of music streaming is that it’s environmentally friendly. There’s no physical product and no packaging of which to dispose! So it makes less waste and is therefore helping to ensure that we actually have a planet on which to live. Right?

Wrong! A new study from Kyle Divine, Associate Professor in the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo, and Dr. Matt Brennan, from the University of Glasgow’s School of Culture and Creative Arts, suggests that music streaming is actually bad for the environment.

The reason? The streaming services we all use need a ton of power to maintain their servers, storage, clouds, and other technological doo-dads and whosie-whatsits, resulting in an increase of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Reports Loudwire:

“Converting past plastic production to emissions, Devine calculated 140 million kg of GHGs were emitted in 1977. Using the same formula, Devine found the recorded music industry emitted between 200 million and 350 million kg of GHGs in 2016.”

In other words, we’re paying more than ten bucks a month for the convenience of having every piece of music ever recorded available anytime, anywhere at the snap of finger. Who would have suspected that anything so wonderful would come with a catch? Usually technological marvels like these just fall from the sky without any unintended consequences, right?

“Well, at least I can enjoy my vinyl collection without guilt!” thinks the Millennial reading this over his avocado toast. Sorry, kiddo: vinyl is an oil product, which means its production is also adding GHGs.

So what’s an environmentally conscious music fan to do? Fucked if I know. But this much is for certain: a whole lotta old-men-yelling-at-clouds types are about to start arguing for the return of the cassette tape.

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