Music News: New study finds digital music streaming has led to increase in greenhouse gas emissions


A speaker with the Spotify logo is pictured at the company headquarters.
A speaker with the Spotify logo is pictured in the cafeteria of the company headquarters in Stockholm is pictured on February 16, 2015. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)
New study finds digital music streaming has led to increase in greenhouse gas emissions
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Above, listen to an episode of The Current's daily Music News podcast. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts. You can also sign up for a daily Music News e-mail and join our Facebook group.

I remember going CD shopping at Best Buy with my dad back in the late '80s. CDs came enclosed not only in plastic jewel boxes, but also in long cardboard boxes that were then covered in cellophane. Sometimes the jewel boxes even had their own, you might remember those pesky little laser-printed security strips. We'd get home, and Dad would fill his music room's wastebasket with all that packaging. Now, though, whenever I want to hear a new album I just click over to Spotify and hit play. Way better for the environment, right?

Wrong, according to a new study from European researchers. Today's recording industry might not put as much trash in landfills, but streaming music has actually increased greenhouse gas emissions. It turns out that it takes way more energy to store and stream music than it took to manufacture and distribute hard copies...which may seem crazy, but think about how often you have to recharge your phone.

That's not to say the old days were all that great for the environment either. Vinyl production peaked in 1977, using 58 million kilograms of plastic. CD production peaked 23 years later, in 2000, and that required 61 million kilograms of plastic. All that plastic production, though, resulted in only about half as much greenhouse gas emission as streaming causes today.

The study's authors say they're not trying to tell people not to stream music, they just want people to be aware that media consumption has a significant environmental impact even if it doesn't fill store shelves and wastebaskets. (Billboard)

Women win despite being "frozen out" at ACM Awards

The 54th annual Academy of Country Music Awards took place on Sunday night in Las Vegas, and it was a big night for women artists -- except in the top category, where only men were nominated. Keith Urban won Entertainer of the Year, and host Reba McEntire referenced a recent Vegas snowfall by saying, "It was so cold it froze us women out of entertainer of the year."

Women provided the night's most memorable onstage performances, though, and both Album of the Year and Female Artist of the Year went to Kacey Musgraves, who's been embraced by a mainstream audience -- her LP Golden Hour also won the Grammy for Album of the Year -- but hasn't enjoyed much airplay on country stations.

Accepting Female Artist of the Year, Musgraves said, "This award goes out to any woman, or girl -- or anybody, really -- that is maybe being told that her perspective or her style is too different to work. Just stay at it. It'll work out." (New York Times)

Aerosmith begin Las Vegas residency

Just one day earlier in Las Vegas, Aerosmith kicked off their 34-show Deuces Are Wild residency. According to Rolling Stone, the show features lots of hits and lots of pyrotechnics. It also begins with a 40-minute video chronicling the band's history, which apparently was a little long for fans who were ready to rock. Of course they finally got the chance, and some of them even bought into a unique opportunity; for $700, you can sit onstage during the show and listen to in-ear monitors that get the exact same feed as Steven Tyler's. That means you get ideal fidelity when Tyler yells things like, "We're all getting laid tonight!" (Rolling Stone)

Gospel-house singer Kim English has passed away

Singer Kim English has died, after experiencing kidney failure, at age 48. She was known for bringing gospel to the dancefloor, with eight hits topping Billboard's dance chart between 1999 and 2007. As the New York Times notes, that made her a bigger club star than acts like Daft Punk and Calvin Harris, even though she didn't achieve their level of widespread recognition. As she gained success, English also became more confident in openly singing about her faith. In 2007, she took a step back from music to go back to school, earning her bachelor's degree from Purdue; she remained active as a live performer through 2018.

English grew up in Chicago, where she trained with a classical voice instructor, and started collaborating with local R&B and house artists. A remix of her song "Nite Life" hit the Top 40 in the U.K., which earned her a slot performing in front of an audience of New York influencers in 1994. Mike Weiss of her label Nervous Records remembered that the song was so catchy, even though it was her listeners' first time hearing it they were all singing along after the first chorus. (New York Times)

Beyoncé's Coachella set coming to Netflix

If you're a fan of the Knowles sisters, today we have some good news and some bad news. Let's get the bad news out of the way first.

Solange has called off her scheduled appearances at Coachella. The reason, she says, is "major production delays." That sounds like she was planning a major production, which would be very much in keeping with her family's flair for unforgettable spectacles.

That brings us to the good news. Beyoncé's game-changing Coachella set from last year is coming to Netflix next Wednesday in the form of a film called Homecoming. The film will include not just the performance, but also a documentary look at the entire process of putting the show together. We're not just talking logistics: according to Netflix, Homecoming will cover the entire "emotional road from creative concept to cultural movement."

If your body, mind, and soul are ready, check out the trailer, which includes an excerpt from a 2013 Maya Angelou interview that speaks to Beyoncé's motivations. It's today's viral clip. (New York Times)

Audio sampled in podcast
Jahzzar - "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games - "Against the Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
Kim English - "Nite Life (Nite Mix)"
Jesse Spillane - "Ruffling Feathers" (CC BY 4.0-02)
Netflix - "Homecoming: A Film By Beyonce" (trailer)

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