"Rock May Not Be Ruining the Planet, but It's Certainly Not Helping": Sustainable Development at Dutch Music Venues.
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In recent years, musicians and music industry professionals have become aware of the environmental impact of the live music sector. Since the decline of record sales due to streaming, tours have taken over as the primary income source for musicians. Therefore, the global live music sector continues to grow in revenue—27 billion USD in 2019—, but also emissions. The enjoyment of live music continues to have a negative impact on the environment in terms of emissions and physical waste. In this thesis, I address the environmental impact of live music with special attention to the role of venues. My focus is on the Netherlands because of its significant live music scene, but also due to the unique legal hierarchy of the nation that places international treaties above domestic law. The now-famous climate case of Stichting Urgenda has shown that the Dutch government has been neglecting its duty to reduce emissions economy-wide as set out in the 2016 (ratified) Paris Agreement. The thesis considers the steps taken—or not—by Dutch law and policy aimed at reducing the environmental impact of music venues, as received and enacted by the venues themselves. Through semi-structured interviews with employees of five Dutch popular music venues I establish the obstacles and motivations for the venues to take environmental action. I then analyze Dutch local and national policy regarding sustainability following Thomas Birkland’s methods for policy process analysis, demonstrating the gaps between policy and practice. In Chapter One, I define sustainability. In Chapter Two, I establish the environmental impact of concerts. In Chapter Three and Four, I elaborate on the Dutch policy context and plastic policies. In the three final chapters, I present the findings of the interviews and highlight relevant policies. The findings of this thesis support the conclusion that sustainability policies for arts and culture, and in particular the live music sector, need improvement. Financial support for the sustainable development of the live music sector lacks and resources related to subsidies and sustainable development in general are not sufficient. Additionally, the venues studied here demonstrated that single-use plastic regulations are unnecessarily loose and may in fact be counterproductive. Ultimately, the government needs to step up their economy-wide sustainable policy and collaborate with the music sector to effectively and quickly make enjoyment less harmful to the environment.