I don’t know anyone who questions his streaming habits. Do you? Hardly anyone realizes how harmful online streaming is to climate, be it series, movies, music or other digital content. No matter how environmentally conscious we try to give our best for sustainability in everyday life, we eventually reach a point when we go online because we want to rest our minds and focus on the diversity of the providers and their offerings. Streaming services like Spotify, Soundclound or Netflix are surging strongly because, regardless of where we are or what time it is, we can select something which fits our mood around the clock – and these services are of course being used 24/7 worldwide. In itself, this is absolutely marvelous, and you don’t want to live without it anymore.
However, streaming does not just fuel the user’s bliss streaming is actually among the Big Five producers of CO2, and the pollution increases with the continuing expansion of the Internet. „According to calculations by the French think tank The Shift Project, half an hour of streaming generates emissions which are equal to an amount of 1.6 kilogramsof Carbon dioxide = about as much as a car ride of 6.28 kilometers“! (Source: The Shift Project)Suppose you listen to two hours of music on Spotify and watch a movie on Netflix in the evening, then you’ve just polluted the environment with the CO₂ emissions of a 50 kilometer drive .
So how can we bring about a more conscious use of streaming services in our time when they have been firmly anchored in our daily habits? Is that even possible at all? Supporting reafforestation projects in the rain forest or making payments for CO₂ compensation can salve one’s conscience. In a more active way, you can participate in the new project Clubtopia. Clubtopia invites you to help in shaping a more environmentally conscious club culture in the future. Reading a conventional book or enjoying the hi-fi sound of a record in the analogue fashion would be the daily top alternative to avoid polluting the environment with more CO₂.
But where do you draw the line when musicians, DJs or producers of electronic music publish their tracks or mixes at streaming portals such as Mixcloud, Soundcloud or Spotify, thus making them digitally accessible to the user at any time? That’s just the way you do it nowadays. Therefore, it mainly depends on each user who can give himself or herself and the environment a break by means of conscious offline phases (digital detox). Especially now, when all concerts and club events have been cancelled in order to protect the population within the framework of the Corona Virus/Covid-19 containment measures, basically everything is only happening online. But even a club operation in itself plays a role which is not to be underestimated – think of the high consumption of energy through heating and circulating air systems as well as the entire technology for light and sound. The agency Thema 1 gave some serious thought to this and launched the Green Music Initiative project. Since 2011, the initiative has been creating alternatives in order to cut down CO₂ or to minimize emissions. This program motivates the club scene to rethink and act.
„The vision of the Green Music Initiative is a sustainable music industry as a role model for the implementation of climate protection measures.“
In turn, the catch word streaming does not only cause euphoria among producers of electronic music in terms of royalty compensations. Uneasiness is an afflicted companion. Even with thousands of followers and users, the returns for producers are not in line with the intellectual, the timewise and the material efforts to create high-quality electronic music, e.g. mastering or studio rent. Furthermore,not every producer is in a position (it is not always his objective as well) to pursue a financially reliable DJ career parallel to the studio work. It has been stated time and again in the field of music that you can only make money through the income from concerts or gigs and through the commercialization of the brand. But it’s not always about the mere monetary aspect.
The intellectual property of your work should be protected and acknowledged. And of course you want to „hit the mark“ somewhere after the release. Analysis tools such as those used by streaming service provider Mixcloud can be useful for determining the creator of each track in a mix. Mixcloud as well as Soundcloud are the most popular providers and are basically indispensable for DJs and producers as a means of distribution for their mixes and creations. In addition, these platforms offer various settings on how to gain more attention for releases in general.
Even the simple labeling of the track or mix with harmonious keywords and tags will allow users all over the world to enjoy the latest material. Those who release works regularly will usually be found at the top of search results either at the platforms or at search engines in general. A post at the popular social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram on user-friendly days and times of day will not only inform the fan base about publishing dates of the new musical work, but it will also incite followers to spread the news by sharing the post.
Since 2018, Mixcloud has been offering Mixcloud Select, another type of paid streaming and uploading. The most striking feature of M-Select is that a fairer compensation is allowed for the developer or the producer of electronic music when his tracks are played. M-Select offers the user a direct line to the producer or DJ as well an ad-free and wall-free access to exclusive releases and shows. A large part of the paid M-Select subscription will be transferred directly to the artists or the sales label.
For example, DJ and producer Chris Liebing releases weekly exclusive material on his Mixcloud Select channel. By means of this M-Select subscription, the user additionally obtains access to selected material and bonuses of the artists. Furthermore, Mixcloud has opened up a level at which the authors of the tracks listed in the DJ mix can also be digitally registered and compensated accordingly. Whether it’s for fans or for new listeners, this variant will grant more exclusiveness than the conventional subscription and at the same time give a better financial appreciation for the work of the producer.
Chris Liebing’s social media presentations can be very helpful as a guideline. In these unusual times, it has become all the more important to present yourself online and to remain present through small impulses. Up-to-dateness, the regular upload of mixes or your own tracks, possibly a raffle of audio material or merchandising articles such as T-shirts – these are all still very useful incentives for the user to choose the channel of your music promotion. Nevertheless, contemporary communication tools are no guarantee for quick success or for any success at all. On the other hand, there is the ancient proverb with the hopeful message: Constant dripping wears away the stone.
Kay-Uwe Lenk*DASFAX | Techno Berlin