Added on 31st Oct 2010

Switching to digital delivery of music promotional releases across the independent music sector would save 1,525 tonnes of CO2 annually – a reduction of 86% - new research conducted by Julie’s Bicycle on behalf of AIM and BPI has revealed.

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Detailed research undertaken by industry environmental initiative Julie’s Bicycle estimates that the manufacture, packaging and transport of promo CDs by AIM and BPI indie members total 1,686 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to three times the annual energy, water and waste emissions of a large performance arena.

The research follows the work undertaken by AIM following the “10 BIG IDEAS” session at the anniversary of its 10th AGM in July 2009. Reducing the number of physical CD promos was pinpointed as one of the winning ideas to emerge. 

Working closely with independent labels and three digital solution providers, Soundcloud, Fastrax and FATdrop, Julie’s Bicycle undertook an analysis of the promotional market which showed that in 2009 digital promos accounted for almost a quarter of promotional material delivered, with 9,000 files being distributed digitally compared to 25,000 physical CDs. 

The subsequent evaluation of the value chain from promo production to end-user calculated the carbon footprint of a promotional CD to be 649g CO2 compared to 62g CO2 produced by a digital file, thereby demonstrating the potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to be achieved from a change of distribution model. 

In a bid to embed sustainability across the industry, the report further recommends a shift away from the traditional jewel case to lower carbon packaging and calls on the industry to place a greater emphasis on recycling material no longer suitable for use.

Alison Wenham, Chairman and Chief Executive of AIM commented:  “The way forward is clear.  All companies should switch to digital promos now, as far as is possible.”

Commenting on the research, Chairman of BPI and Julie’s Bicycle, Tony Wadsworth, said, “The collaboration between BPI, AIM and Julie’s Bicycle is the first study of its kind in the world, and it provides clear evidence for a responsible way forward for all labels big and small.   We will be encouraging everyone involved in promotion – labels and media alike – to reflect on these findings and consider how they can speed up the move towards digital distribution.”

Alison Tickell, Director of Julie’s Bicycle also commented “Julie's Bicycle has been working with the UK music industry to shift cd packaging from plastic to card and thereby effecting up to 95% less CO2 in packaging. 

This research shows that, where a track is only listened to once or twice before being discarded, ie a promo, switching from physical to digital delivery will produce even more dramatic CO2 reductions.”