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Music exec says artists who make physical records during the climate crisis are “hypocritical”

A senior music executive has said artists who advocate for climate change and continue to produce physical records are “hypocritical”.

Sir Robin Millar is a senior record industry executive who has also produced albums such as Sade‘s ‘Diamond Life’ and Everything But The Girl‘s ‘Eden’. He is also the co-founder of management company Blue Raincoat Music, who currently lists Skin and Phoebe Bridgers amongst its clients.

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Sir Millar said he believed the production of physical records such as vinyl and CDs should be eradicated.

“I am baffled that no large record company has had the backing of a big-selling artist to stop making physical records,” he said.

CU on hands searching through vintage records – stock photo. Credit: GETTY

Millar further argued that the quality of digital songs were equal to vinyl, and that artist tours – which also cause damage to the planet – could be screened online. Furthermore, vinyl and CDs are packaged with “chopped-down trees and plastic”.

“How can anybody stand up and say ‘save the planet’?,” he said. “Artists are awful for hypocritical bandwagonery.”

Back in 2019, NME examined how artists could tackle climate change, highlighting vinyl production as one facet of the issue. We spoke to Chiara Badiali, who works at London-based charity helping industries improve environmental sustainability Julie’s Bicycle. Badiali said vinyl “is actually such a small part of the industry if you look at the manufacturing footprint.” (In 2019, vinyl accounted for 3.6% of music sales worldwide.)

“People focus on it because it’s so visible and it’s a tangible thing. From a carbon footprint perspective the environmental impact doesn’t compare to the impact of travel. It’s so small that it’s basically a blip.”

However, she did see room for improvement in the sector regardless: “People are looking at how you’d reduce the amount of energy that gets taken in pressing a piece of vinyl. There are people who are experimenting with the actual raw materials of vinyl. But that’s where it’s really tricky because at the moment vinyl is one of the best mediums that we have found to do what we want it to. The biggest problem is: what happens to it at the end of its life?”

Since then, the likes of Bicep, Angel Olsen, and Black Country, New Road teamed up to feature on the first bioplastic vinyl release. R.E.M.‘s Michael Stipe also released music on the world’s first commercially available pioplastic vinyl in 2022.

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