You're an artist. You care about our living planet and you want to do more to ensure your music-making is as green as possible. This guide is for you.
There are lots of reasons to go green. Shit’s getting real. That's not news to anyone. Everything we love is at risk. The very conditions for life on earth are threatened.
At a deeper level, this crisis represents a fault between our modern society and the living planet. The truth is, we are nature. So what we do to Mother Earth, we do to ourselves. It’s time we honoured that truth and returned home to more harmonious ways of being.
As our summers heat up, as fires and floods get worse and our living planet buckles under the strain of the modern world, it's natural for us to want to step up. We know that a planetary environmental crisis can't be solved with individual efforts - it needs coordinated, collective action. Right now, many people are asking ‘What can I do?’. And as musicians, we can do more than most because we can lead and inspire broader social change.
Musicians have a platform and a voice, so we’ve got a role to play in both doing what’s right and in speaking up about it. With power comes responsibility, as they say. We want to help you use your cultural power well.
That’s what Sound Country is about: for thousands of generations, the music of this continent was connected to Country, in spirit and action. We’re here to support musicians to reconnect, realign and reinspire that ancient and still-breathing purpose.
“Well my body, is like this land / And this land, this land, this land, this land's the same / And the heart beat keeps on pumping / Oh sweet precious life through your veins. Well the river is like my veins / Carrying sweet precious life to the muscles and the brain / Oh the heartbeat begins to wane / Better pray, better pray, better pray, pray for rain / Into the bloodstream”
- Archie Roach, Gunditjmara and Bundjalung Elder and musician
THE BIG PICTURE
A set of principles for going green
This guide is full of tips and tricks for greening your musical life. Let’s start with some high-level principles to consider as you take action.
- Earth-centred: Being ‘green’ means prioritising the living planet. Humans are not, and have never been, the point and purpose of life. Yet that's the mindset that dominates our world today. Instead, we need to put Earth at the centre, where she belongs. Our only home in the universe, we are part of her and she is the source of everything we hold dear - including music - with inherent value, regardless of any direct benefit to humans. This is the most important idea in this guide. All of the detailed tips and suggestions below support you in making this change as confidently and deeply as possible.
- First Nations First: For those in Australia, we can’t think seriously about caring for the land without considering Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures. When a person steps forward to care for our living world, we follow the footprints of the Indigenous peoples who have cared for Country for tens of thousands of years. To walk this path as a non-indigenous musician means being an active ally and accomplice - being respectful, getting educated, sharing power, opportunities and stage time, and using your influence to dismantle the systemic racism, colonisation and oppression in our industry and wider culture.
- Healing For All: We need to move towards a better future in ways that increase equality, centre those who have been traditionally marginalised and support the most vulnerable among us. We need to align our environmental efforts with other movements for justice, healing and equity - including gender, race, class, sexuality and ability. Nature isn’t separate from society or our economy. White supremacy, colonialism, the patriarchy and unbridled individualism got us into this planetary mess. That's why environmental work needs to be informed and led by the work of those who least benefit from these systems.
- Move Upstream: We need action (see below), but some actions are more powerful than others. As musicians, recycling our gear at the end of life is good. Also good is buying second-hand. Even better is to avoid a new purchase. Likewise, it’s great if we let fans know the public transport options for getting to a show. But if we choose easy-to-reach venues, the rest takes care of itself. And if we influence politicians to value and fund public transport - or change political systems so they inherently value these things, that's even better. As an analogy, imagine a polluting riverside factory whose waste impacts everyone downstream. While it’s clearly good to clean the waste downstream, it’s much better to reduce or stop the pollution in the first place. And even better would be to rehabilitate the landscape and align the health of the factory with that of the land, water and communities (human and beyond) who depend on them. So basically, when it comes to environmental improvements, the further ‘upstream’ you go, the better.
- Get Active: On the journey to a greener future, it’s not always easy to see the road ahead. Instead of shooting for perfection, and getting confused about what the ideal next step is, allow yourself to act. There’s no perfect path and action has energy and magic in it. (Note: listening and learning are actions, too.) At the same time, when we do start to act and speak up, we can discover feelings of guilt or unease. After all, we're trying to change cultures, communities and systems that we ourselves are a part of. Our advice, offered with love, is to ditch the shame and leave the guilt behind. It’s excess baggage and we need to move fast.
- Make it Social: If we’re going to create a better world, it’ll happen through conversations, community and collaboration. So talk to your bandmates, fellow DJs, the venues you play at, touring staff and your record label. Industry-wide, there’s heaps of heavy lifting to do. So let’s do it together. And use your public platform to share what you’re doing, ask questions and connect with others. You don’t have to preach, but this is about changing more than just lightbulbs or album packaging. We need political and cultural change. You’ve got fans who look to you, so what you say, do and sing about matters. Competing stories of ecological crisis and a hopeful future are told by each of us in a thousand ways each day. What stories are you telling?
GOING GREEN: IN SUMMARY
This guide is chock full of green tips and ideas for music-makers. But for a quick overview, see how you stack up against the summary checklist of green music actions below.
You might want to use it to make an initial plan with your team and then read on further to flesh out the details with more info, links and recommendations.
It runs from easier FIRST STEPS that won’t cause a sweat, to NEXT LEVEL moves that create more change, and DEEP GREEN actions with potential for epic impact.