At a time when climate change is no longer a distant threat but an impending reality, the call for sustainability resonates louder than ever. In the midst of this reverberation, a unique harmony emerges – the fusion of music and sustainability. One band orchestrating this melody is the renowned British rock band Coldplay.
Following their 2019 album Everyday Life, Coldplay took a break from touring for environmental reasons long before the global pandemic COVID -19. When the pandemic subsided, they returned, but with an innovative pledge – making their current “Music of the Spheres” tour “as sustainable and low-carbon as possible.”
When Chris Martin (leader of Coldplay) was asked about this change in an interview with Michel Martin of All Things Considered, he explained, “We were becoming aware on our last tour that it does have a big impact when you do an event in a city and everyone has to travel to get there. We’re very fortunate being able to experiment with certain things. We should think about how next time we tour, we could do things in a slightly more thoughtful way environmentally.”
Coldplay’s commitment to sustainability is not just words. Their actions speak volumes, as evidenced by their comprehensive sustainability report. Their “Music of the Spheres” world tour implemented groundbreaking sustainability measures. Harnessing the kinetic energy of dancing crowds is one of the imaginative initiatives. The Energy Floors, developed in collaboration with the Dutch company Energy Floors, converted the audience’s movements into electrical energy. The band also integrated a rechargeable battery system developed in collaboration with BMW to power their shows.
The band’s sustainability efforts went beyond the stage and involved fans in their mission. The band collaborated with SAP to create the #MusicOfTheSpheresWorldTour app. This innovative app not only provides fans with exclusive tour content, but also helps them visualise their carbon footprint and inspires them to choose more sustainable transport options when attending concerts. In addition, the app calculates the impact of fans’ travel to and from concerts and offers rewards for fans who choose low-carbon travel. This allows Coldplay to understand and offset the fans’ carbon footprint.
A key aspect of the app’s development was inclusion, especially for people with disabilities. Working with a blind fan from Mexico, the team at SAP ensured that the app was accessible to visually impaired users and optimised it for screen readers, magnifiers and tactile gestures. This focus on accessibility reflects Coldplay’s overall commitment to inclusion and equality, as evidenced by the provision of sign language interpreters for deaf concertgoers and the creation of quiet zones with sensory bags for people with autism.
Jonny Buckland recounted, “When Chris did this interview where he set our goal out in 2019, our initial reaction was like -‘Oh my God, is that even possible?’ But then so much information started coming in and you start to feel a bit more positive about the likelihood of being able to do it.”
The band’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions does not stop at their concerts. They offset carbon emissions from their tour by planting trees, protecting forests and investing in green technology projects. The goal? A tour that emits more CO2 than it produces.
This bold endeavour is not only a unique example of environmental awareness in the music industry, but also a prototype for sustainable practises on a broader scale.
Reflecting on the power of her initiative, Martin said, “What I’m really excited about is who might be at the concert [and] sees something working and then implements it in their school or shopping mall, or is 9 years old and at the concert and then in 10 years is going to be running the City Council. You just don’t know the ripple effect of these kinds of things.”
Coldplay’s bold efforts are a stark reminder that every sector, including the arts and entertainment industries, has a crucial role to play in tackling climate change. It’s a call for change, a call to align our practises with the needs of our planet.
Music has always had the power to unite, inspire and bring about change. Now Coldplay is putting that power to work for the planet. The question remains – as the melody of sustainability plays on, who else will join this crucial symphony?