Clean Scene, a Berlin-based collective made up of music industry professionals who want to create a cleaner, greener, and more equitable future for dance music, has released a report on the impact of flights by DJs. Titled the lengthy, Last Night a DJ Took a Flight: Exploring the carbon footprint of touring DJs and looking towards alternative futures within the dance music industry, it looks at the Resident Advisor top 1000 DJs and examines just how many flights they took in 2019 (2020 was a wash because of COVID) and the environmental impact from those flights and what can be done to mitigate that.
In 2019, artists took more than 51,000 flights, emitting 35,000 tons of CO2, traveling 117,000,000 kilometers. This is equivalent to 20,000 households’ electricity for one year, powering 8000 festivals for three days, or pressing 25 million records.
Not all DJs were equal in their emissions – the top DJs traveled more then those lower down. The top 10 DJs who emitted the most carbon was as much as the 207 who emitted the least carbon. The 100 most travelled DJs on average emitted 88 tons of CO2. The 100 least traveled of the top 1000 averaged only 3.3 tons of CO2 in 2019 for reference.
Now what can be done about it? In 2021, DJs, fans and promoters will want to get back to the business of gigging like it was 2019 without a care in the world, planet be damned. This report is very European centric and in some markets like North America, South America, Africa and Asia, it is harder to get around without planes, but there are ways to mitigate climate emissions.
There are quite a few suggestions including taking trains (obviously difficult if traveling long distances or going over oceans). DJs could also have effective routing on tours, which would mean don’t fly from Berlin to LA for one gig and then go home, but rather do several gigs in California instead of just the one.
COVID will hopefully add a greater emphasis on local scenes in place of the superstar DJs, which will nurture local talent in addition to lessening the CO2 emissions of DJ travel. Fans should support their local clubs, festivals and venues instead of traveling great distances for shows. DJs could not be egomaniacs flying private and they could have greener tour riders, which we have discussed before. And for those who espouse fighting for environmental causes, be accountable to yourself and others. Wealthy and influential DJs shouldn’t be afraid to have those conversations with their friends and colleagues because this isn’t something that can be continuously kicked down the road. People want to get back to partying, but it can be done better.
Read the report here.