27 May 2022

Festivals Making Change!

With Rural Fest less than a month away, we have taken a look into the central theme of our festival – climate change. With the ever-increasing effect of climate change on all aspects of our life, we look at how the music industry is responding to making live music viable through greener means.

So have a little read and let us know what you think!

With huge artists renowned for touring on private jets and having huge production values for their shows, there has been a movement to ensure there is greater sustainability to live music. Coldplay have recently experimented for their global tour ‘Music of The Spheres’ by introducing kinetic dance floors to help generate energy to power the show through the audience dancing.

They also have electricity-generating bikes for fans to use to power the show as well, with BMW developing all this technology with them for the tour. Other additional energy saving and sustainable techniques they are using include using low-energy LED lighting system, encouraging reusable cups for free drinking water and offsetting their carbon footprint through planting new trees.

Massive Attack announced they intended to do their European tour on train back in 2019 before the pandemic started. They planned to share their data with Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at Manchester University to map their carbon footprint to see how to improve their sustainability when travelling around the world and lead by example to other artists.

The band also signed up to Music Declares Emergency campaign, which started in 2019 to ensure that “music, musicians and music businesses, through their unique cultural and economic power, can lead the way in demanding the systemic changes required to secure all life on Earth.”

Working with their partner organisation, Julie’s Bicycle, their campaign for 2022 is ‘No Music On A Dead Planet’ in order to create an environment for artists to bring the climate conversation into the mainstream to their fans. Their impact has been worldwide with artists like Billie Eilish seen supporting the project through a livestream event in 2020. After artists and representatives from Abbey Road Studios, Warner, Universal and Sony signed up in the UK, there are now active groups existing in Germany, France, Switzerland, Chile, Canada, and the USA.

Further development is happening locally in the UK to pledge towards helping the environment. The Future Yard venue in Birkenhead opened in 2019 and is committed to a long-term goal of becoming the first carbon-neutral grassroots music venue in the North of England, and one of the first in the UK. They have worked in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University’s Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory to see what its energy consumption is and how to develop policies to address their goals. One of them they enact already is having no single-use plastic stocked on our bars or on our artist riders.

Leeds-based social enterprise Reaction Bike-Power have a whole host of services they offer using bike generators to power sound systems, cinema screenings, stage lights and weddings. Using solar power as well, they can replicate the correct sound for different musical settings through the speakers they build themselves. They have started a movement to get away from using fossil-fuel generators for events and have been successful for the last 10 years on the festival circuit with their services.

So how does this all relate to making one off, annual events like festivals sustainable? There are groups around that are trying to create sustainable festivals and record data on how far reaching their efforts are going. A Greener Festival opened in 2005 as a not-for-profit and provide certification, training, expertise, and facilitate the exchange of best practice for festivals. From their 2019 data, they found 17% of their applicants used 100% renewable energy sources to power their festivals.

Some of the techniques they suggest to help events be more eco-friendly include:

- reducing waste through encouraging recycling.
- encourage green transport to and from the festival.
- reduce paper usage by going digital with tickets and programmes.
- going cashless to avoid the transport of physical money.
- use renewable energy to power the festival.
- seek out local suppliers to help reduce carbon footprint.
- choose meat and dairy free food vendors.
- use compost toilets

Green Matters created a list of some of the best sustainable festivals out there who already implement some of these techniques including Burning Man, Echoes of Earth, and Eden Festival of Action (click on the link to find out more). With these processes and ideas to implement significant change in the music industry, we aim at Rural Fest to contribute to the ongoing campaign in creating sustainable music events. Our festival location has been chosen to have close public transport links, as well as programming local artists to play to reduce our carbon footprint.

We are excited to share with you in more detail over the next week or so how Rural Fest is taking on climate change.
So don’t forget to follow our socials on Facebook and Instagram for more updates!

Written by Rural Fest Music Journalist - Ben Lee


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