When it comes to musicians finding guidance on environmental issues, it can be difficult to know where to begin. It’s very true that up until the last year or so, there hadn’t been a clear movement in the greening of the music industry. One name that comes up in almost every conversation, though, is that of Minneapolis-based environmental advising company MusicMatters. Helmed by green expert and music industry vet Michael Martin, the company and its predecessor, Concerts For the Environment, has been working with some of the biggest names in conscientious rock such as Jack Johnson, Dave Matthews Band, R.E.M. and the Police to create a higher standard of environmental concern and action in the music industry.
Curious to find out exactly what the company does and knowing that he was the person who could explain it all best, Playback spoke to Michael Martin to get the scoop on all of their projects. Just getting back into the office from a MusicMatters-produced Lyle Lovett concert for the American Wind Energy Association, Martin described some highlights in the history of the company.
Effect Marketing ™
“MusicMatters specializes in Effect Marketing™. This is a strategy that transcends causemarketing in that it’s all about effecting positive change—for the planet, for a movement, for a business… the possibilities are endless. Our partnership with Jack Johnson’s All At Once community is a great example.”
Jack Johnson and AllAtOnce.org
“Jack Johnson asked us if we could create the next generation of greening for his tour. He was particularly passionate about what happens after an artist greens a tour. We created, in conjunction with Jack and his wife Kim, All At Once. The basic premise is this: as individuals, all of Jack’s fans taking action together can create global change. There are three different components to the website:
Your Actions talks about different individual actions people can take in their community. Rise Above Plastics is themain focus for this, so it hooks you up with local non-profits. Your Voice talks about voting. You can download a League of Conservation Voters scorecard, to see who the good Green Green candidates are. You can also register to vote here. Your Choice is the Climate Counts website. You’re able to download a Climate Counts scorecard that ranks corporations’ contributions to global warming. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you go to Explore, you’re able to look at different videos from non-profits from around the world and when you view a video, Jack will donate a dollar to that organization, and in Share you’re able to upload videos of you or different groups taking environmental actions. Volunteer helps hook people up who want to volunteer with local non-profit groups. And if you look at Capture Your Commitment, we’re actually tracking how much impact is being made by the (All At Once) community as a whole. This whole thing is also brought to life on Jack’s tour.”
Dave Matthews Band and Native Energy
“I was talking with Dave at the Kokua Festival about the conversation that he and I had had back in 2001, which was what led to the whole concept of carbon dioxide offsets in the music industry. We were just starting work on the One Sweet Whirled environmental flavor for Ben and Jerry’s. He was feeling really hypocritical about touring with trucks and busses fueled by petroleum and asked, ‘What can I do about this?’ I said that besides biodiesel you can fight climate change by offsetting your carbon emissions. We talked to some guys I knew fromGreenMountain Energy and helped them form a company called Native Energy. And we started doing offsets for themusic industry.Native Energy has now done LiveEarth, andmany other tours use their offset model for artists when they tour.”
Clif® Bar GreenNotes
“We’re now up to fourteen artists with this Clif® Bar program(a green touring initiative featured in Spring 2008 Playback). This year we’re out with Rogue Wave, Missy Higgins and Brett Dennen, and also on the roster are Mason Jennings, Michael Franti, Martin Sexton, The John Butler Trio, Gomez, Xavier Rudd, Hot Buttered Rum, and Garrett Brennen.”
EnviroRider™ and Green Toolkit 101
“I had done all these things in the music industry back in 1990, and by 2000, I got fed up because the music industry wasn’t really doing anything with it. About four years ago, green started becoming valid again, like it was in the early 90s, and I started to get managers calling. So MusicMatters essentially became environmental experts for hire. But the EnviroRider, which is now used by Jack Johnson, and Reverb uses it for their artists, came about in 1991 with Steve Miller Band’s Lost Cities Tour. We were going to low population states to try to affect the elections by putting on concerts. He was talking about doing something environmental, so I wrote up a list of things we could do. Then I went to environmental groups and had their scientists look at it. And then we used it on Jack’s tour and it completely moved the needle for the whole industry. In 2007 we revised the rider to include things that venues are required to do, and if they don’t, they have to make a contribution to a local environmental group. It’s cool because now I hear fromartists that the production managers get the rider, and they pass it around to other managers, and it’s become the standard of the industry.”