With EarthPercent, Brian Eno Helps the Music Industry Address the Climate Crisis
Brian Eno, the British musician and ambient-music pioneer, spends a lot of time thinking about how he can impact the world in ways that will make it better. He’s a founding member of the Long Now Foundation, a 15-year-old California nonprofit that promotes slower, smarter thinking, and a trustee of ClientEarth, a London-based environmental law firm. He’s also involved with Music Declares Emergency, a global group of artists and organizations that coordinates activities that direct the music industry toward a carbon-neutral future.
Earlier this year, Eno announced an effort of his own called EarthPercent. The initiative, founded with leading music-industry environmental entities including A Greener Festival and Julie’s Bicycle, asks musicians to devote a small percentage of their revenues to EarthPercent, which will redistribute the money to organizations that address the climate crisis. Its efforts take place on the ground, too. For its most recent collaboration, with climate scientist Saleemul Huq and Clyde Built Radio, an independent station based in Glasgow, EarthPercent produced a daily broadcast from the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference called Inside COP26. Guests interviewed for the program include climate scientist Tamsin Edwards, musician Cosmo Sheldrake, and Tishiko King, the campaigns director for Seed Mob, Australia's first indigenous youth climate network. EarthPercent aims to raise $100 million by 2030.
Eno believes the music business is well suited to act as a revenue stream because its players are used to dividing up income to various stakeholders. “Nearly every single record and song that you’ve ever heard of has a different financial structure,” he said in a recent interview on the Sounds Like a Plan podcast. “We’re trying to make it the cause of the music business, really, to say, ‘Let’s have a revolution.’” In addition to performing artists, Eno says that his team is talking to promoters, managers, record labels, publishing companies, and others across the trade. His hope, he continued, is that other industries will adopt a similar model of fundraising.
The project seems to follow what Eno’s music has long suggested: that the most transcendent musical moments are often communal and come with a quicker tempo. If there are two things the planet needs now, it’s for people to come together, and increase the pace.