The Environmental Sustainability Of The Music Industries

Post-talk discussion with Matt Brennan, Kyle Devine (University of Oslo), Paul Harkins (Edinburgh Napier University) and Jo Collison Scott (University of the West of Scotland)


A world where music does not have an environmental impact is a world without music. I do not want a world without music, and it is not my intention to ruin one of life’s great pleasures – the enjoyment of music – by pointing out its environmental cost. However, if we are to have any hope of addressing the global challenge of climate change, we urgently need to become more mindful of the cost of the whole range of production and consumption behaviours that we usually take for granted, including our participation in music. This talk therefore focuses on three key sectors of the music industries – recorded music, live music, and musical instruments – and considers them from the perspective of environmental sustainability. It also offers a critique of the assumption that the growth of these industries is an unquestionable good.


Matt Brennan is Reader (Associate Professor) in Popular Music and Convenor of the MSc Music Industries degree at the University of Glasgow. He has served as Chair of the UK and Ireland branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM), and has authored, co-authored, and edited several books in the field of popular music studies. His latest book, Kick It: A Social History of the Drum Kit (Oxford University Press 2020), establishes the drum kit’s central role in shaping the history of music over the last 150 years. His previous monograph, When Genres Collide (Bloomsbury 2017), was named as one of Pitchfork’s “Favourite Music Books of 2017” and was awarded the IASPM Canada Book Prize. He has co-authored the three-volume The History of Live Music in Britain (Volume 1, Ashgate 2013; Volume 2, Routledge 2019; Volume 3 forthcoming 2021) and co-edited The Routledge Research Companion to Popular Music Education (Routledge 2017). Together with Simon Frith, he is co-editor of the Bloomsbury book series Alternate Takes: Critical Responses to Popular Music. He performs and records music under the moniker Citizen Bravo.