Jun 26, 2019 | Updated: 09:24 AM EDT

Listening To Music May Be Harmful To The Environment

May 25, 2019 09:02 AM EDT

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Perhaps there are only a handful of people who can recall the last time they have purchased CD's or cassette tapes to support their favorite music artists. Music Technology has come a long way since. Nowadays, music platforms online have taken over the usual tapes and CDs that music lovers used to have. People are less likely to buy a CD as they could easily subscribe to a music platform that is conveniently available in their mobile devices. This can be observed both in and out of the country. The fact is that this trend is global.

The shift from CDs to these music platforms has led to a significant decrease in the use of plastic by music producers. Though this may sound as if it were good news, it does not necessarily carry with it environmental benefits that could impact our fight against global warming or climate change. The reduction in the use of plastic in CD manufacturing and packaging is indeed good news, but the question still remains: Would no longer using CDs be enough?

Instead, new research shows that the proposed overall cost of making music available in an online platform comes with a bigger toll on the environment than that of music through CDs. This surprising new theory is submitted by Kyle Devine, an associate professor from the University of Oslo. Devine worked in collaboration with Dr. Matt Brennan, a professor from the University of Glasgow for this study.

"Intuitively, it is easy to say that the non-production of the physical product means lower carbon emissions. However, the truth is that this is not the case," said Professor Devine.

The two professors looked into the overall cost of the music industry in the production of music in online platforms. They looked into the data from the 1970s and studied how such expenses impact the environment. In 1977, a fan of an artist is likely to spend almost 5% of their weekly income to buy the vinyl copy of the album. In 2013, this was not the case. Music lovers are likely to pay for the subscription to Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora, to name a few.

The increase in the streaming, as well as, the downloading of music has reduced the industry's dependence on plastic, but it has increased its dependence on other forms of energy. In the process, they are paying for increased power usage, not to mention an increase in greenhouse emissions.

The study by Professor Devine and Dr. Brenan shows that the plastic used before is much less harmful than the current technological advancement in music that promotes an ongoing increase in the greenhouse gases emitted in the atmosphere.

A music expert commented on the results of the study saying, "I am a bit surprised how great the impact of music streaming is to the environment as a whole. The consumption of energy is just enormous."

"When we only see the final product, we don't worry about how the recordings affect the environment. Our study provides the backstory essential to the understanding of how our seemingly harmless practice of listening to music has bigger and more harmful impacts on the environment," Devine said.

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