Responsible Musicians and Climate Change

It goes without saying, but it has to be said anyway! Greta Thunberg and other young activists undoubtedly had a massive impact on the way we think about climate change. So much so, that her activism has permeated the way bands such as Coldplay and The 1975 promote and produce music. The 1975, and artists such as Dave have been recognised for writing ‘protest music’ and speaking candidly about race, police brutality and sexuality through their music. It begs the question of if self-aware artists have a responsibility to make such music; such art imitates and examines life, and brings it to their large fan followings.

Greta herself has had direct involvement with The 1975, with a spoken-word piece on their upcoming album Notes on a Conditional Form. In it she restates her position on the need to act on the climate crisis. This relates to songs that the band have released in the last couple of years, including the song Love It If We Made It which laments political turmoil and inaction by large governments on immigration, climate change and police brutality.

The proceeds from Greta’s track on The 1975’s new album will go towards the Extinction Rebellion. The band have always been very vocal about their left-wing political leanings and the need for all of us to be more aware of current affairs and the need for action on a variety of issues. So much so, that they protested during their performance at Coachella 2019.

Not only are The 1975 speaking about climate action through their music, their record label. Dirty Hit, is also making efforts to minimise the environmental impact of their merchandise and concerts. Their office has phased out all single-use plastic and is working to minimise the impact of vinyl LP production. The 1975’s new merchandise line is also environmentally friendly, with the band asking fans to bring old band tshirts to reprint their new album logo onto them. Fans also donated clothes to be recycled into new T-shirts.

Not wanting to be accused of hypocrisy, and also putting the impact of their music into action, the band are holding a festival in Finsbury Park this summer (coronavirus permitting of course!), with a gender-balanced lineup they have chosen, after their commitment to only play gender-balanced festivals going forward. The festival will feature branded water bottles for people to use and take home at the event, and be powered by renewable energy.

Coldplay have made a similar move in ceasing all overseas concerts until they can offer ‘environmentally beneficial’ concerts. This is in support of their new album, Everyday Life. They played a show in Jordan which was made into an album film, and played a show in the Natural History Museum, with proceeds going towards environmental charity ClientEarth.

Whether a publicity stunt or not, popular artists, including Billie Eilish, are taking a stand on environmental issues and working towards responsible touring. It seems art is trying to make amends for the mistakes we are making day to day. As music permeates most of our lives on a daily basis, it seems to be the best way to reach people and move them to take action. Participating in such concerts and supporting such artists is just the start of how we can support both the climate movement and responsible artistry.

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