What Musicians are Doing
Dave Matthews Band
This past summer, the band launched its new "So Much to Save Campaign." Fans can pledge and receive a download code for the exclusive So Much to Save 2009 album - their reward for committing to such climate solving actions as doing an energy efficiency audit at home; using buying and voting power to motivate companies to take climate change seriously; and staying informed by signing up for one of Grist's e-mails.
Matthews has also spoken out on the importance of taking action. He recently observed that. "If you imagine in 50 years how you face your children, if you can't at least say, 'Well, we tried to turn the world around.' It's, I think, an effort we should make, and the evidence is growing."
"There are many things that we can do as individuals to reduce our impact on our environment," says singer KT Tunstall, "but we must insist our politicians act, too." Speaking for her native country, she implored her fans that, "A strong Scottish Climate Change Bill is a vital stepping stone to achieving a fair share of emissions reductions in Scotland, as well as something we as Scots could be really proud of."
Guster, Reverb and Campus Consciousness
Inspired by his conservationist wife, Guster guitarist Adam Gardner founded Reverb, which offers music events greening services and 'ecovillages' that include outreach by nonprofits, green technologies, eco-friendly consumer sampling, voter registration, jumbotron eco-trivia and tips, and chances to win green prizes like solar backpacks. Reverb bands have included Phish, The Dead, Norah Jones, John Mayer, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Guster itself recently took Reverb on the road via its Campus Consciousness Tour, featuring a 'Consciousness Pavilion' that includes a video booth allowing fans to share their ideas/inspirations about global warming. Other tour participants have included Avril Lavigne, Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, and Alanis Morisette. Crow says her goal is "to urge college students to become part of the movement to stop global warming and demand solutions from themselves, their schools, and their country."
Green Apple Festival
Founded "to promote Earth Day," the free concerts of Green Apple Festival - situated in public-transport-serviced parks from New York's Central Park to San Francisco's Golden Gate - have provided an Earth Day weekend home for hundreds of green businesses and nonprofits across America.
Festival headliners have included such musicians as The Flaming Lips, Taj Mahal, Joan Baez, Ziggy Marley, Tommy Lee, The Decemberists, The Neville Brothers, Los Lonely Boys, and members of The Dead. Speakers inspiring the festival's 15,000 - 50,000-plus-person audiences have included New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, author and activist Bill McKibben, comedian Chevy Chase, actor-activists Ed Norton and Ed Begley Jr, leaders of Earth Day Network and other top environmental organizations, multiple politicians, and Planet Green emcees. In 2008, presented by JP Morgan Chase and supported by such sponsors as Fed Ex, IBM, and Kashi, the festival and its messages were broadcast on the main page of MySpace on Earth Day.
In 2009, reflecting the spirit of the times - and in the face of declining sponsorship dollars available to support free major concerts during the financial meltdown - Green Apple changed gears to organize America's largest Earth Day Action. Partnering with Planet Green and Earth Day Network, and presented by Timberland, Motorola, Disney, and Clear2Go, the festival joined forces with dozens of local, regional, and national nonprofit organizations to connect fans with hands-on green volunteer actions on issues ranging from green building, urban gardening, and native habitat restoration to energy efficiency retrofitting. More than 5,000 volunteers signed up to participate, with a chance to win a free ticket to a private concert. Attendance at both the volunteer actions and the "Thank You" concerts, however, was lighter than expected, reflecting the conundrum that many who were inspired to volunteer didn't necessarily need the musical motivation, while music fans overall weren’t as motivated to volunteer as had been hoped. The festival plans to leverage these lessons to improve its future Earth Day action programming.
From Pearl Jam to Def Jam
Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard has been meeting with Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee (D-Wa) regularly for the past three years in support of the "New Apollo Energy Project." Inslee has introduced legislation in the U.S. Congress to address three challenges in America: creating clean energy manufacturing jobs; decreasing dependence on foreign oil; and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Among the most outspoken artists promoting climate solutions has been Moby, who calls climate change "the single most important issue facing mankind" and recently helped kick off the European Union and MTV's "Play to Stop. Europe for Climate Campaign," aimed at boosting awareness among youths. He also urged more artists to help promote awareness: "If musicians can somehow become effective advocates for challenging, combating climate change, I think that's the most effective thing they could do." (Moby likely would be proud of Radiohead's Thom Yorke, who has a key role in the just-released climate film, The Age of Stupid.)
An encouraging development has been the involvement of the Hip Hop Caucus' "Green the Block" campaign, which promotes green jobs. Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons says the Hip Hop community can do much more than it has. It need look no further than the Black Eyed Peas' Will.i.am for inspiration: His 2009 song "Take Our Planet Back" addresses the need to reduce dependence on foreign oil, use renewable energy sources, and hold politicians accountable for enacting environmental reform.