Massive Attack rallies gov for carbon emissions plan
British band Massive Attack are calling on the government to introduce a plan to cut carbon emissions in the live music business.
It comes after the band commissioned the University of Manchester for a report on the issue using their tour data.
The result of the report is a resource entitled ‘Roadmap To Super Low Carbon Live Music’ which is designed to support the sector’s reduction of emissions in line with the UN Paris Agreement.
While the report makes a number of recommendations for sectors across the live industry, Massive Attack’s Robert del Naja (aka 3D) says the sector ultimately needs more government support in order to achieve its goal.
“Our sector is operating in a government void”
“Our sector is operating in a government void,” says Robert del Naja (aka 3D), Massive Attack. “Nine weeks out of COP26, where is the industrial plan, or any plan at all, for the scale of transformation that’s required for the UK economy and society?
“Fossil fuel companies seem to have no problem at all getting huge subsidies from government, but where is the plan for investment in clean battery technology, clean infrastructure or decarbonised food supply for a live music sector that generates £4.6 billion for the economy every year & employs more than 200k dedicated people? It simply doesn’t exist.”
The report lists a number of actions for local and national governments including:
- Provide funding and support for venues looking to reduce their energy consumption, including for building fabric retrofit.
- Include requirements on on-site energy use and a plan for year on year improvements as part of licensing conditions.
- Liaise with venues and event sites to support public transport provision and communications.
- Provide charging points for electric vehicles close to venues.
- Include requirements on shared audience travel (e.g. carshare, coach) and a plan for year on year improvements as part of licensing conditions.
- Include requirements on reporting aviation emissions as part of licencing conditions and a plan for year on year improvements.
- Provide secure cycle parking close to venues.
- Provide a safe environment for walking, cycling and public transport by working with the late-night licensed sector to make areas around venues safer particularly for groups most likely to be vulnerable.
- Work with local public transport providers to improve safety, accessibility and affordability of public transport.
“We hope that this roadmap can help to catalyse change by outlining the scale of action required”
Some of the key recommendations for the live music industry include:
- Plan tour routes in a way that minimises travel and transport.
- Include travel by public transport in the ticket price.
- Generate renewable energy on site, e.g. solar panels.
- Gig and concert venues should use renewable energy.
- Use energy-efficient lighting and sound equipment.
- Use electric vehicles and trains to travel between venues.
- Better bike storage at music venues.
- Avoiding flying and eliminating private jets.
- Perform at venues that are taking action to reduce their building energy use.
- Offer incentives to fans who choose to travel by public transport.
Professor Carly McLachlan from the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, says: “We hope that this roadmap can help to catalyse change by outlining the scale of action required and how this maps across the different elements of a tour. To reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, touring practices need to be reassembled differently as the industry emerges from the significant challenges that the pandemic has created.
“This starts from the very inception of a tour and requires the creativity and innovation of artists, managers, promoters, designers and agents to be unleashed to establish new ways of planning and delivering live music tours.”
Christopher Jones from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research will be presenting the ‘Roadmap To Super Low Carbon Live Music’ at the Green Events and Innovations Conference’s (GEI) upcoming Summer Edition – tickets for which are on sale now.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.
Environment top of agenda for major UK events
The 1975 and Massive Attack, two British bands at the forefront of the effort to make touring more sustainable, have recently announced headline performances in London this summer.
Festival Republic, whose managing director Melvin Benn has spearheaded various environmental projects at UK live music events, is promoting a one-day event headlined by the 1975 in North London’s Finsbury Park on 11 July – the Manchester band’s biggest-ever show and, according to a statement from the promoter, the greenest event ever put on in the park.
Charli XCX, Clairo, Pale Waves, Phoebe Bridgers and Beabadoobee will also perform at the event, which will be entirely powered by sustainably sourced Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel – a form of renewable diesel produced from vegetable fats and oils lowering the show’s carbon footprint by 90%.
In addition to the 1975’s one tree planted initiative, which sees the band plant one tree for every ticket sold to their shows, Festival Republic will plant 1,975 trees in the park’s surrounding boroughs of Haringey, Hackney and Islington, in partnership with charity Trees for Cities.
Fans are encouraged to bring old band t-shirts to the show for reprinting with new logos, as part of the 1975’s sustainable merchandise range. Other eco-friendly measures include the use of hybrid-powered generators with solar arrays, and a traffic light system to highlight the carbon footprint of food options.
The 1975 and Massive Attack, two bands at the forefront of the effort to make touring more sustainable, have announced headline performances in London this summer
Elsewhere in London, Massive Attack are headlining AEG Presents’ All Points East festival on Sunday 24 May, adding to previously announced headliners Kraftwerk and Tame Impala. Nils Frahm, Young Fathers, Neneh Cherry and Sevdaliza are among other acts performing on the Massive Attack-headlined day.
The Bristol-hailing band have been vocal on the subject of touring’s environmental impact, commissioning a team of researchers to look into how the live industry can reduce its carbon footprint, performing at the Extinction Rebellion climate protest in London, and pledging to tour Europe by train.
The eco initiatives employed by Festival Republic, the 1975, Massive Attack and others will form part of the discussion at leading live industry sustainability gathering the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) on 3 March. Tickets for GEI 2020 are available here.
Tickets for the 1975’s Finsbury Park show go on sale at 9 a.m. on 31 January, priced from £52.50 plus booking fee for general admission, with VIP options also available.
Massive Attack tickets will come on sale in due course. More information can be found here.
Norwegian DJ embarks on carbon neutral tour
Norwegian DJ and producer Matoma, real name Tom Stræte Lagergren, is preparing for a climate-neutral concert tour.
Prior to the upcoming US leg of Matoma’s One in a Million tour, the DJ has partnered with climate advocates Chooose to measure the carbon footprint expected from the tour and plan to neutralise emissions.
According to the DJ, the tour will be the first to actively remove unavoidable emissions, using carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects in Finland. The aim is to reduce tour emissions by twice the initial footprint, removing 20 tonnes of CO2 from the air.
“We’re thrilled to be actually removing the remaining carbon with our partners in Finland, and continuing to find new ways and technologies to solve this global problem,” says Lagergren.
“We’re thrilled to be actually removing the remaining carbon and continuing to find new ways and technologies to solve this global problem”
The DJ and his team will also reduce emissions on a local scale, using public transport, eating vegetarian meals, staying in sustainable hotels and making an effort to limit electricity consumption.
The tour kicks off on 16 January in Austin and wraps up on 18 April at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California.
The approach is the latest attempt to tackle touring’s carbon footprint, adding to Massive Attack’s academic study into the industry’s carbon emissions and plans to tour by train, Coldplay’s touring hiatus and A Greener Festival’s Green Artist Rider initiative.
Experts will gather to discuss the environmental impact of touring and how to mitigate it at the next Green Events and Innovation (GEI) conference in March.
Massive Attack announce latest eco initiative
Bristol band Massive Attack have announced they will travel by train when touring Europe in future, in the group’s latest attempt to tackle the live industry’s carbon footprint.
The announcement follows the band’s commissioning of the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to look into ways in which the live music industry can reduce its carbon footprint. Band travel is one of the three key areas the research will focus on, along with audience transport and venues.
Massive Attack were also among acts to perform at the Extinction Rebellion climate protests in London in October 2019.
Currently on tour in North America, Massive Attack will return to Europe in summer 2020, making appearances at the Netherlands’ Best Kept Secret Festival and Les Eurockéennes in France, among others.
“The challenge now is to not only make personal sacrifices, but to insist on the systemic change that’s needed”
Lead singer Robert Del Naja, also known as 3D, told the BBC: “[As musicians] we have enjoyed a high-carbon lifestyle. But as a society we’ve all existed in a fossil-fuel economy for a long time and had very little choice in that.
“The challenge now is to not only make personal sacrifices, but to insist on the systemic change that’s needed. Business as usual is over.”
Coda Agency and A Greener Festival (AGF) launched the Green Artist Rider at the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in March last year, in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of touring. Tickets for GEI 2020 are available here.
Massive Attack tackle touring’s carbon footprint
Bristol band Massive Attack are the latest UK act to tackle the live industry’s environmental impact, teaming up with researchers to map the carbon footprint of typical tour cycles.
In an article published in the Guardian, Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja (3D) announced that the band are commissioning Manchester University’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to look at “three key areas” where Co2 is emitted in the music industry: band travel and production; audience transport; and venues.
The resulting “roadmap to decarbonisation” will be shared with other touring acts, promoters, festival organisers and venue owners to encourage and facilitate a reduction in carbon emissions across the industry.
“Every industry has varying degrees of carbon impact to address and we need partnerships like this one to look at reducing carbon emissions across the board,” comments Dr Chris Jones, a research fellow at Tyndall.
“It’s more effective to have a sustained process of emissions reductions across the sector than for individual artists to quit live performances. It will likely mean a major shift in how things are done now, involving not just the band but the rest of the business and the audience.”
“It’s more effective to have a sustained process of emissions reductions across the sector than for individual artists to quit live performances”
Last week, Coldplay announced their decision to put a pause on touring, due to environmental concerns. The 1975 and Billie Eilish are among other high-profile artists to work to reduce the carbon footprint of upcoming tours.
While Del Naja notes that stopping touring altogether is “an important option that deserves consideration”, an unrealistic number of high number acts would have to do so in order to “achieve the required impact”.
Carbon offsetting initiatives, such as planting tress, banning single-use plastic and encouraging the use of public transport, says Del Naja, are also unlikely to deliver any meaningful impact.
“Given the current polarised social atmosphere, uplifting and unifying cultural events are arguably more important now than ever, and no one would want to see them postponed or even cancelled,” says Del Naja.
“The challenge therefore is to avoid more pledges, promises and greenwashing headlines and instead embrace seismic change.”
To help reduce the environmental impact of artists’ riders, Coda Agency and A Greener Festival (AGF) launched the Green Artist Rider at the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in March. Tickets for GEI 2020 are available here.
Live music amplifies XR’s International Rebellion
Artists and DJs including Massive Attack, Declan McKenna, Orbital and Rob da Bank are bringing the noise this month’s climate protests, where a team of music programmers are risking arrest to provide a musical accompaniment to the demonstrations.
The two-week ‘International Rebellion’, organised by pressure group Extinction Rebellion (XR), began on Monday, and sees activists call on governments around the world take urgent action to tackle global warming.
In London – home to one of the largest of the protests, which are also taking place in 59 other cities worldwide – demonstrators have at various times shut down down Whitehall, the Mall, Westminster Bridge, Downing Street, London City Airport and, most recently, the BBC’s New Broadcasting House headquarters.
The London ‘rebellion’ is “decentralised” and divided into 12 zones, an XR spokesperson tells IQ, with entertainment duties on each site overseen by one or more programmer.
“We’ve had a hell of a lot of people that want to perform at all the sites,” says Sam Weatherald, music programmer at Global Justice Rebellion, which is looking for a new home after being evicted from St James’s Park yesterday. “There’s a big [XR] database for everyone who’s interested, because we’ve had so many people saying they want to play.”
” Music is really great to get the message across”
Acts booked by Weatherald, also co-founder of Antenna Collective, for St James’s Park include rapper Dizraeli, reggae band the Majestic and sitarist-cellist Pete Yelding.
Anthony McGinley, aka DJ Absolute, is based in Trafalgar Square, where XR activists secretly set up a large stage for speeches and live performance. Artists who have played or will play in the square include Disclosure, Orbital, Johnny Flynn and Rob da Bank, DJ and founder of Bestival, as well as members of Pumarosa and Mystery Jets.
“Everyone I’ve asked to play has said ‘yes’,” comments McGinley. “It’s a cause I think a lot of musicians are passionate about. And it feels really good for me, personally, to be able to use my skillset and passions to do something to highlight [XR’s activism].”
Elsewhere, Massive Attack played all 12 sites earlier this week, according to the XR spokesperson, by moving around with a sound system in a backpack, while Declan McKenna played a free show on the Mall – the singer-songwriter’s first in a year.
Weatherald says it’s important to make use of music and arts to address social issues, noting that his and other International Rebellion sites are “chocka with heavy political and social issues, talks and workshops, so it’s really important to have the music there. Music is really great to get the message across.”
“It’s beautiful to see everyone coming together”
But it’s not without its challenges, adds McGinley. “The goalposts have obviously been moving a lot with this – there are all these external forces impacting on what we’re trying to do, so there’s been a lot of solving problems that have come up on the night,” he says.
“Seeing all the raids happening is a bit scary, and it can be disheartening when you’ve planned something only to see it get shut down. [At press time, in excess of 1,000 protesters had been arrested.] So there are a lot of mixed emotions, But also some really amazing highlights – it’s beautiful to see everyone coming together.”
The International Rebellion protests follow a busy summer of festival appearances for Extinction Rebellion activists. Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, told IQ last month there were 60% fewer tents left behind at its events this summer as a result of XR’s involvement. “I’ve been asking people for ten years not to leave their tents,” he said. “But the first year I get Extinction Rebellion involved, everyone takes them home!”
Other International Rebellion events are taking place in cities including Paris, Madrid, New York, Hong Kong, Toronto, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City and Melbourne.
Colston Hall hits out at media over naming row
British music venue Colston Hall has denied reports it is to accede to protesters’ demands to change its name.
A statement from the 1,932-cap. music venue, in Bristol, south-west England – which recently announced plans for a £48 million programme of refurbishment – says it has “moved to set the record straight on the future name of the venue, after reports in the weekend media suggested that it had bowed to pressure from campaigners to remove all association with Edward Colston”.
Louise Mitchell, chief executive of venue operator Bristol Music Trust, says it had always planned to hold a consultation on the name of Colston Hall. “We were clear right from the start of our campaign to raise funding to transform the hall that we had listened to people’s concerns regarding negative associations with Edward Colston,” she explains, “and that we would be reviewing the name as part of our redevelopment. […]
“Colston Hall is well known, locally, regionally and nationally, as one of the major arts and entertainment centres in the country. Changing our identity is a major move that requires careful consideration. As we have always stated, we need to go through a thorough process that takes into account views from local, national and even international stakeholders and partners.”
The venue is named after Edward Colston, a prominent local businessman and MP who founded schools, hospitals and almshouses in Bristol. A bronze statue in the city bears the inscription: “Erected by citizens of Bristol as a memorial of one of the most virtuous and wise sons of their city.”
However, Colston Hall’s association with its namesake has become controversial in recent years, as Colston was an official of the Royal African Company, which was involved in the transatlantic slave trade. Bristolians Massive Attack have refused to play at the venue until its name is changed, and Nigerian-born historian David Olusoga penned an opinion piece in The Guardian on Sunday calling the name ‘Colston Hall’ an “affront to a multicultural city”.
“We were clear right from the start of our campaign to raise funding to transform the hall that we had listened to people’s concerns regarding negative associations with Edward Colston”
An organisation called Countering Colston, meanwhile, is also pressuring the city’s Colston Girls’ School to change its name.
Bristol city councillor Richard Eddy says to change the name “would only motivate others to suggest that Bristol was attempting to hide a shameful past by trying to expunge Colston from its history books.
“One cannot change the past, nor should we seek to rewrite or forget it. It has been rightly said that those who fail to remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
One compromise that could please both sides (or, more likely, neither) is to rename the venue after a corporate sponsor – something Mitchell says Bristol Music Trust is exploring.
“We are fundraising for a substantial transformation of the existing building,” she says, “and are currently exploring naming rights, which offer an opportunity to make a real difference to the campaign.
“Our continuing commitment and focus is to be great stewards of this historic venue that has been at Bristol’s heart for so many generations and realise our ambition to deliver the world-class concert facility that Bristol deserves.”