Music fans keyed into the need for climate action

Research has found music fans expect the industry to do much more to protect the climate and they are more likely to care more about the issue than those who do not listen.

The study by the University of Glasgow found music fans are most likely to care about climate change and place a higher priority on tackling the crisis than non-music fans.

The initial findings of the study, entitled Turn Up the Volume, draws on YouGov UK polling of 2184 adults from across the UK, also shows that music fans expect the music industry to do more around the climate emergency and sustainability.

The survey asked a range of questions related to music, listening/purchasing habits and attitudes towards environmental issues such as climate change.

On climate change, the poll found that 82% of music fans were concerned about climate change compared to 72% of non-music fans. These figures are broken down as 42% of music fans were “very concerned” and 40% “fairly concerned” compared to 31% non-music fans being “very” or 41% being “fairly” concerned.

In addition to being more likely to view climate change as a serious issue, results also show music fans as being more likely to place a priority on efforts to tackle climate change.

While both music fans and non-fans tend to see climate change as an important issue which should be addressed, music fans are significantly more likely to view it as a top priority with 54% of music fans agreeing that “tackling climate change should be a top priority now, above other issues” as compared to 47% of non-fans.

The University of Glasgow, Music Declares Emergency, the BPI, Secretly Group, Beggars Group, Involved Group, and Key Production have partnered as part of Turn Up The Volume study on this new piece of audience research, funded in part by the Natural Environment Research Council. Turn Up The Volume study is led by the University of Glasgow’s Dr Matt Brennan, and social data science expert Dr Mark Wong, alongside Music Declares Emergency’s Lewis Jamieson and Beggars Group’s Will Hutton.

Dr Matt Brennan, who was also the lead investigator of 2018’s UK Live Music Census, said: “The project findings are exciting because they demonstrate a clear relation between engaged music fandom, increased concern about climate change, and desire for action.

“Music culture has a long history of playing a key role in social movements, and the evidence shows this link is still strong in the present day when it comes to the climate emergency.

“This should send a strong message across the music industries – to record labels, concert promoters, streaming platforms, artists, and other sectors – that there is an appetite for industry initiatives to tackle climate change, and that fans support, and indeed demand, bolder action. It represents an opportunity for the music sector to play a more prominent role in accelerating a just and green transition.”

The poll findings come at a time when the music industry has seen several initiatives launched aimed at increasing awareness of climate issues and addressing the environmental impact of the music events and products. Announcements from the Music Climate Pact, Live Green, and The Association of Independent Music (AIM) have all made commitments to work towards a net zero future.

The survey tested the knowledge of these initiatives as well as the desire to hear more about them. Interestingly, even among music fans the knowledge of these initiatives was low. 64% of music fans had not heard of any music industry initiatives, with only 3% saying they knew a lot about such initiatives.

The poll showed evidence that many music fans are prepared to change their consumption habits to support more sustainable products and practices. For example, people who spend money on physical products such as records are especially willing to spend more on sustainable physical products, while live event attendees are especially willing to spend more on sustainable events. 43% of consumers who spend £5 or more in the average month on physical products would be willing to spend more money to reduce the environmental impact of record production, whereas only 20% of non-consumers would be willing to spend more.

The BPI (UK record labels association) was the lead industry partner on the project. MJ Olaore, chief operating officer of the BPI, welcomed the findings: “Addressing climate change is the critical issue facing all of us, and, as this timely survey shows, it’s something that music fans really care about and are particularly determined to do something about.

“As an industry we need to harness this passion and commitment and drive lasting and meaningful long-term change as we look to decarbonise in a sustainable way.”

Turn Up The Volume project is being curated with Music Declares Emergency, the UK based organisation working with the music community globally to place music at the heart of the conversation on climate action.

Lewis Jamieson, co-founder of Music Declares Emergency, said: “To really achieve our aims we need to understand our audience and this research delivers the first real insight into how music fans feel about the work to date. It offers challenges in terms of how we communicate that work but also huge opportunities to bring music fans fully into the conversation to support UK music and artists in creating a future proofed, truly sustainable music sector.”

On climate change, the poll found that 82% of music fans were concerned about climate change compared to 72% of non-music fans. These figures are broken down as 42% of music fans were “very concerned” and 40% “fairly concerned” compared to 31% non-music fans being “very” or 41% being “fairly” concerned

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