What Beyoncé’s album means for climate change

pretty hurts

Video screen capture “Pretty Hurts” music video

Beyoncé’s surprise release is not only generating lots of buzz, but also lots of controversy. Amazon and Target have refused to sell the new album, perhaps as retaliation for giving iTunes exclusive download rights for its first week of sales. Nonetheless, the album was iTune’s fastest-selling record ever, with 828,773 records sold over the weekend, The Huffington Post reports.

Although other artists have gone the download-only route, to have a superstar of Beyoncé’s status choose a digital-first release is another indicator of the shift away from physical formats–and the waste and energy consumption associated with them.

Beyoncé the album may mean a real change in the energy consumption associated with the music industry, James West argues in a fascinating read for Climate Desk. He argues it “may well be one of the most climate-friendly major studio releases yet.”

A 2009 study found that buying music online could cut carbon emissions by 80 percent. West followed up with one of researchers:

“One of the researchers, Jonathan Koomey, a research fellow at Stanford University, told me that while the carbon footprint of CD production has largely stayed the same since 2009, when the study was published, online music has gotten greener. “A CD is still a CD and it’s pretty likely that the delivery of that CD is not very different from three or four years ago,” he says. “But typically the internet doubles in efficiency every couple of years, and so the picture is even better for downloads now than it was a few years ago.”

Read the full story here.