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Head of Growth at the musician booking platform Encore Musicians, Jonny Venvell, explains how they approached their goal of creating the most sustainable way to book musicians.
In 1995, Michael Jackson was singing about it in Earth Song. In 2007, hundreds of artists came together to sing about it at Live Earth. Now in 2021, COP26 delegates came to Glasgow to decide how the world responds to the climate crisis. We have no time to waste.
Together, we as an industry need to be taking action to halt the progress of climate change. But what does that mean in practice?
At Encore, we decided to go big: our goal was to create the world’s most sustainable way to book musicians. This is the story of how we got there.
As a musician booking agency, we’re painfully aware that we’re responsible for thousands of kgs of CO2 going into the atmosphere every year - mostly in the form of emissions from musicians travelling to gigs.
It’s an unavoidable fact that artists need to travel - but we knew we could do better.
So to mark COP26, we radically changed how we do business - we’re now the world’s first-ever carbon negative music agency. That means that for every musician booked, the amount of carbon we offset is higher than the amount emitted.
To do this we first reduced our own carbon footprint as much as possible, by going paperless, offering green pension schemes to employees, going remote (admittedly forced by the pandemic!) and encouraging cycling (when we do meet in a workspace) through the government Cycle to Work scheme.
Then we faced the challenge of offsetting our remaining carbon footprint.
Transport CO2 is the real bogeyman for us when we consider our carbon footprint, so we didn’t just want to pick an off-the-shelf offset plan and hope that it covered everything. We needed a more accurate tool for measuring the emissions produced by travel. To offset them, we:
We can't measure the exact emissions of every booking, so to be on the safe side, we're double-offsetting to reduce our impact as much as possible.
We also didn’t want to ignore our own company operations - using laptops, servers and phones still indirectly create a significant amount of CO2. So we signed up to the Climate Positive Workforce scheme at Ecologi to offset the entire carbon footprint of every employee (including emissions from their home, personal and business travel, holidays, food, hobbies and more).
And not wanting to stop there, we’ve started a tree planting initiative. We now plant a tree for every booking made on the site. So far we’ve planted nearly 3,000 trees and aim to plant 20,000 by the end of 2022.
The tree planting projects are carefully chosen by our climate partner, Ecologi, and range from planting wetlands in Morotaola off the coast of Madagascar, to restoring the tropical rainforest of Changalane in Mozambique.
We don’t want to be the only agency offsetting and planting trees - our hope is that this becomes standard practice across the industry. When we first considered going carbon negative, we definitely didn’t think it would be feasible technically or financially. But I hope this shows it’s not as formidable a task you might think - particularly now that offsetting companies like Ecologi exist.
If you or your company are not yet carbon neutral or negative, then now is definitely the time to consider how you’ll get there. The music industry’s carbon footprint may be small compared to other industries, but the cultural impact of the world seeing the music industry leading the climate fight could be huge.
We can’t change how our governments have ignored the climate crisis in the past, but with luck, determination and cooperation, we can change the future.
Music Declares Emergency
Music Declares Emergency are a great organisation who offer practical tips for artists and agencies who want to reduce their climate impact. Signing their pledge, declaring a climate emergency, is also an important statement of intent and gives you an opportunity to communicate that you are serious about the climate crisis to your audience.
Founded by the music industry in 2007, Julie’s Bicycle is a leading resource for anyone in the creative industry looking to tackle the climate crisis, from net zero planning to effective climate art and leadership.
A new project set up by Brian Eno with the aim of encouraging the music industry to donate a certain percentage of their income to fighting climate change.
Ecologi makes offsetting your carbon and investing in tree planting a smooth and simple process. They don’t skimp on standards either - all their carbon credits must meet industry-leading carbon standards like the Gold Standard, and the Verified Carbon Standard. They publish monthly retirement certificates evidencing how many tonnes of CO2 have been prevented from going into the atmosphere through their funding.
Use our invite link and you’ll get 30 free trees when you sign up.