Bloomberg Businessweek USA - 09.03.2020

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◼ BUSINESS Bloomberg Businessweek March 9, 2020



transport, and work with a climate research cen-
ter to track its carbon footprint.
The moves reflect a new level of concern in the
industry about the environmental impact of live
music, which generated more than $10 billion in
revenue in 2018. Issues such as global warming
and sustainability have become passionate con-
cerns for many of the concert industry’s fans—and
increasingly for the musicians that cater to them.
“Stepping out for the environment isn’t for hip-
pies anymore but it’s something everybody is con-
cerned about,” says Fine Stammnitz, a Berlin-based
manager at Green Touring Network. “Many artists
are realizing this, that they have the potential to
influence in a positive way.” The organization has
published a guide on how to make tours greener.
It’s not always easy to walk the talk. A grow-
ing number of artists, including Fatboy Slim and
Peggy Gou, have environmental demands built
into their contracts when they tour, such as
bans on plastic cutlery in backstage catering. But
there’s almost no way of avoiding carbon emis-
sions produced by a tour, which involves moving
hundreds of people and tons of equipment across

large distances. And since it’s also the single big-
gest source of income for most acts, hitting the
road is inevitable for bands of all sizes.
Lisa Pomerantz, who books travel for acts
including Jack Johnson and Childish Gambino,
says that real change will require action by venue
owners, concert promoters, and the fans. Having
an artist, say, ban water bottles or plastic straws
from their dressing room goes only so far. “Right
now,” she says, “it’s like putting lipstick on a pig.”
Pomerantz says she’s investigated ways to make
tours more environmentally friendly, but some
things won’t change unless everyone in the con-
cert ecosystem starts demanding them. At a confer-
ence for the music production industry, she asked
the head of a major bus company about the possi-
bility of equipping a vehicle with a five-gallon water
receptacle to minimize the use of plastic bottles on
board. He said nobody had requested something
like that yet, but if Beyoncé did, he’d build it.
After piracy decimated sales of recorded music in
the early 2000s, many acts invested heavily to max-
imize the spectacle of their live performances and
charge higher ticket prices. Today’s fans are willing
to shell out more than $100 to see Beyoncé, Pink, or
Taylor Swift, because they employ a cast and crew
similar to Cirque du Soleil or a Broadway show. Yet
such major tours can require substantial resources.
The set and production equipment for Beyoncé’s
Formation world tour filled seven Boeing 747s and 
more than 70 trucks, according to the BBC. More
than 2 million people saw the show, which stopped
in cities across North America and Europe.
Major acts like Coldplay can afford to halt touring
while figuring out how to lessen their environmen-
tal impact. The band grossed $731.8 million touring
in the last decade, according to industry trade pub-
lication Pollstar. But lesser-known artists can’t stay
off the road, since streaming revenues haven’t

Footprint of a tour

Venue energy


Band travel







Tons of CO2 emitted by the indie
band We Invented Paris’s 2014
Europe tour

Tons of CO2 emitted per capita in 2014

Other 0.
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