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Sustainable Licensing: Music Leaders Unite To Create Climate Pact

A group of music companies, including the largest licensors in the industry, have launched what they call the Music Climate Pact.

The Climate Pact includes the Big Three of the music industry—Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group—as well as world-renowned independents Beggars Group, BMG, Brownswood Recordings, Ninja Tune, Secretly Group, Warp and others.

The members say they signed the wide-ranging commitment to “decarbonise” the global music business in alignment with the latest climate science.

Initiated by the UK’s Association of Independent Music (AIM) in collaboration with UK record labels association the BPI, the founding Signatories of the Music Climate Pact span numerous areas of the music business and include all three major music groups.

By February 2022, founding Signatories will be required to sign up to one of two schemes, the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) or the UN-backed Race to Zero SME Climate Commitment. This will see Signatories work with experts to set and execute actionable climate targets on which they will report regularly.

Paul Pacifico, CEO of AIM

“The climate crisis is the single greatest challenge facing the world’s population,” said Paul Pacifico, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Independent Music (AIM). “No single business can solve this global threat on their own and it has been inspirational to see so much of the global music sector come together to take action. This Pact builds on the amazing work already underway by individual businesses of all sizes, and brings the knowledge sharing and cross collateralisation needed to effective substantive change.

“I would like to thank the Pact’s supporters and partners and look forward to welcoming more businesses to the Pact and helping them deliver on its commitment.”

The Pact, developed with support from the UN Environmental Programme, marks a significant step in aligning the global music business, and the measures already taken by individual companies, around a coherent and industry-co-ordinated strategy. The founding company’s say the program will seek to unite and take forward existing climate initiatives.

For some Signatories, this could include AIM’s Climate Action Group, the Group’s Near-Mint Vinyl initiative to reduce vinyl waste, and IMPALA’s Carbon Calculator—an upcoming tool for the independent music sector.

Other Signatories will look to fulfil this commitment through exploring music industry sectoral guidance for the SBTi initiative as well as build on steps already taken by Beggars Group, BMG, Ninja Tune, Sony Music Group, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and others.

The Big Three of the music industry say this commitment is just one aspect of the changes they are making to address climate change and other environmental issues threatening the planet.

Sony Music Group Executive Vice President for Philanthropy and Social Impact, Towalame Austin.

Sony Music Group Executive Vice President for Philanthropy and Social Impact, Towalame Austin, explained Sony has adopted a zero emissions goal, and sees this partnership as a way to extend that concept throughout the industry. “Sony Music Group is delighted to join the Music Climate Pact and is committed to playing its part in tackling the climate crisis,” Austin said. “As a division of Sony Group, we are working towards achieving a zero environmental footprint by 2050 under the ‘Road to Zero’ long-term environmental plan, and both expanding renewable energy use and reducing environmental impact in supply chains as part of Sony Group’s Green Management 2025 targets.”

Universal Music Group Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and President of Operations Boyd Muir echoed that philosophy, saying the company has made environmental sustainability a core corporate goal.

“Since becoming a stand-alone company in September, we have established a dedicated Environmental, Social & Governance department that is overseeing this vital priority, including our purchases of renewable energy, offsets of greenhouse gas emissions, reduced supply chain footprint and dedication to the highest building standards,” Muir said, citing adherence to sustainability programs like BREEAM and LEED. “We look forward to working with others in music to help address this critical issue.”

Warner Music Group’s Acting Chief Financial Officer, Lou Dickler, said WMG management made a huge pivot toward sustainability and reduced emissions particularly over the past year, as the impact of global warming became more clear due to a number of climate disasters around the globe. Among those changes was creating an Environmental, Social and Governance department with real teeth and accountability.

“The scale of the global climate crisis demands that we work together to make real impact,” Dickler said. “We appointed a dedicated ESG leader earlier this year, and committed to releasing Warner’s first annual ESG report next year, which will help us hold ourselves accountable and transparently communicate progress to our stakeholders.

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“Starting with an inventory of our carbon footprint, we’re developing an ESG platform and roadmap that will move Warner Music into a more environmentally sustainable future. We look forward to collaborating within our community, throughout the industry, and across sectors to deliver necessary change.”

All of the members have committed to sharing data, insights and resources, as well as providing support for artists to engage and speak up about climate issues. The Music Climate Pact members say the industry can have more impact if they work and speak as a single group. With that in mind, the Pact hopes to grow quickly from its list of initial Signatories, with hundreds more companies from around the world expected to sign by June 2022. AIM, the BPI, IMPALA and other national and international organisations will continue to provide support to encourage other businesses to sign up and deliver on the Pact.

In addition to its Signatories, the Music Climate Pact also has a number of registered Supporters—businesses and organisations that help create and deliver music, and which share the same vision for a cleaner, more efficient and sustainable music market. Supporters agree to work with Signatories in the reciprocal sharing of data, knowledge and resources to help deliver the Pact’s goals. Initial Supporters include IFPI, Worldwide Independent Network (WIN), Julie’s Bicycle, Key Production and Music Declares Emergency.

By signing onto the Pact, the signatories commit to:

  • Take individual and collective action to measure and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions

  • By February 2022, have either signed the Science Based Targets standard commitment letter stating that we will commit to setting science-based targets or will have joined the Race to Zero programme

  • Work together as an industry to establish carbon measurement methodologies, tools and frameworks backed by climate science

  • Work in partnership with shared suppliers and digital streaming platforms (DSPs) to obtain data and drive emission reduction projects in a collaborative fashion

  • Support artists in speaking up on climate issues

  • Communicate openly with fans about the impacts of the music industry.

Paul Redding, CEO of Beggars Group (UK) says the key to success in fighting climate change is the ability for all companies in the sector to accurately measure their impact on greenhouse gas emissions, and to adopt common standards for reducing emissions.

“The Music Climate Pact shows the willingness of the whole music industry to work collaboratively on climate issues,” Redding said. “Building on IMPALA’s project to develop a carbon calculator tool, all signatories will be pulling in the same direction on sustainability topics. This will help our industry achieve carbon reductions more efficiently as we carry out the same work, in the same way, at the same time.”

Full list of the Music Climate Pact’s founding Signatories:

Anjunabeats

Beggars Group

BMG

Brownswood Recordings

Full Time Hobby

Inside Recordings

!K7 Music

Ninja Tune

Secretly Group

Sony Music Entertainment

Universal Music Group

Warner Music Group

Warp

Full list of the Pact’s founding Supporters:

Association of Independent Music (AIM) (representing the UK’s record labels, self-releasing artists and associated businesses)

A2IM (representing US independent music businesses)

The BPI (trade association for UK record labels)

EarthPercent

IFPI (representing the recording industry worldwide)

IMPALA (representing Europe’s independent labels)

Julie’s Bicycle

Key Production Group

Music Declares Emergency

Worldwide Independent Network (WIN) (representing independent labels worldwide)

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