According To Science, Music Streaming Is Bad For The Environment

May 1, 2019

This could be a bombshell if you're a regular user of Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, Amazon, and Apple Music, but research gathered by two professors shows that the maintainence of streaming services has a large negative effect on the environment.

Kyle Devine, an associate of The University of Oslo, and Dr. Matt Brennan of the University of Glasgow, both refute the theory that the production of physical products like vinyl and CD leads to higher carbon emissions than online streaming. It turns out that the economic costs from the music industry since the 1970's has already had an impact on the climate.

 With more music fans turning to digital platforms rather than physical products, this has lead the music industry to spend less on plastics and more on energy to maintain computing power, memory storage, servers, cloud capabilities, etc. This has resulted in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Professor Devine found that in 1977, approximately 140 million kilograms of GHGs were produced in the production of physical products. He also found that by 2016, GHGs had increased from between 200 million and 350 million kilograms.

Devine discusses the human and environmental impacts of the music industry in his book Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music. He also shares what happens to physical copies of albums after they are thrown away in the garbage, as well as the effect of the oil industry on the environment now that vinyl records (which are oil products) have made a comeback.