Musicians including Brian Eno are to name the Earth as a co-writer of their music, in order to divert a portion of their royalties towards environmental activism.
Described as “a poetic construct … a beautiful idea” by Eno, the likes of Dave and Stormzy producer Fraser T Smith and multiple Grammy winner Jacob Collier will add the Earth to the credits of a forthcoming song or composition. A royalties percentage of their choice will be given in perpetuity to EarthPercent, a charity of which Eno is a founder and trustee, that raises money from the music industry to fund environmental activism.
Smith hailed it as “a brilliant initiative … adding the Earth as a beneficiary on projects is not only a choice but a necessity”. Rostam Batmanglij, formerly of Vampire Weekend and now an acclaimed solo artist, hailed the scheme as “an intelligent use of the income our intellectual property generates”.
Other musicians joining the scheme include Anna Calvi, Mount Kimbie, Erland Cooper and Aurora. Aurora said: “I am currently writing my next album – it’s an album about interconnectedness and the art of coexistence. There is no greater teacher than Mother Earth. There is no greater home, or provider. There is no better place than Earth. And that is why I want to make this whole album with Mother Earth as a co-writer, because without her there wouldn’t be any such thing as music.”
The scheme is part of EarthPercent’s broader mission to divert revenue from the music industry towards environmental causes. The charity hopes to raise $100m by 2030, saying that money will be spent on ways to reduce the environmental impact of the music industry, as well as restoring nature, advancing policy change and securing “climate justice and fair environmental stewardship”.
Bands such as folk-rockers Big Thief have pledged to donate 1% of touring revenue to the charity, to help offset their environmental impact.
Tours, particularly international ones by arena and stadium-level artists which involve transporting vast teams and heavy staging, generate hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. The manufacturing of vinyl and merchandise has its own impact, and individual artists such as Drake and Travis Scott have been criticised for their frequent use of private jets.
But EarthPercent’s scheme is part of a push across the music industry to be more environmentally sustainable. In December 2021, the three major labels plus a host of independents united to sign the Music Climate Pact, promising to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and achieve a 50% reduction by 2030.