Green Music Australia launch ‘Sound Country’ guide for environmentally conscious artists

The resource, presented as both an interactive illustration and comprehensive document, encourages artists to use their “cultural power” for good

Green Music Australia – the environmental charity behind the Environmental Music Prize and Australia’s iteration of No Music On A Dead Planet – have launched ‘Sound Country’, a synoptic handbook for performing artists keen to work in more environmentally sustainable ways.

Launched today, the resource is available in two unique forms. The first is a comprehensive 63-page document that offers six key principles for “greening your musical life”, expounding on them with dozens of tips for being more environmentally conscious on tour, broadening the accessibility and inclusivity of shows and adopting new perspectives and behaviours to make touring more sustainable for artists in the future.

It also includes a variety of case studies and essays that offer more in-depth insight to areas like carbon offsetting, food and transport, the sustainable production of merchandise, and the acknowledgement of First Nations customs and traditions.

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The second form is an interactive visual guide, designed and drawn by Naarm/Melbourne artist and printmaker Steph Hughes, formerly of Dick Diver, which breaks the guide down into 15 visual components.

The illustration is depicted as a music festival, where each area links to a corresponding component of the guide – if you click the merch stall, for example, you’re presented with a blurb explaining how “thoughtfully created merchandise gives artists a chance to support sustainable and ethical products”. From there, the user is able to click through to a page that offers information and additional resources on that component’s topic.

The interactive visual guide can be found here, with the document available to download further down that page. Additionally, all of the components in Hughes’ illustration will be segmented for a social media-friendly version of the initiative. ‘Sound Country’ will be launched with an event in Melbourne, which is set to take place at the Northcote Social Club next Monday (July 18).

The guide was put together by authors Rhoda Roberts, Matt Wicking and Berish Bilander. In addition to being an Officer of the Order Of Australia, Roberts – a member of the Bundjalung nation, from the Widjabul clan of northern New South Wales and south east Queensland – is the director of the Boomerang Festival, creative director of the Parrtjima Festival, and an associate of the Northern Rivers Performing Arts (NORPA) association.

In a press statement, Roberts said that working on the project was “an extraordinary experience”. “I am blown away by Green Music Australia’s desire to reset consciousness around our nation’s identity, cultural values and environmental change”, she said.

Furthermore, Bilander is the CEO of Green Music Australia, and has toured extensively as a composer and pianist for artists – including Vika and Linda. Wicking is a freelance facilitator and environmental consultant; he spearheaded the organisation Cloud Catcher – a partner of ‘Sound Country’ – and also fronts Melbourne band The General Assembly.

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Supporting the initiative, Steve Dimopoulos – the Victorian minister for creative industries – said in a statement: “Reducing the environmental impact of the creative industries is one of the underlying principles of our Creative State 2025 strategy. We all have a role to play in protecting our future and Sound Country is a fantastic, practical resource to help our music industry do just that. I applaud Green Music Australia and encourage Victorian artists to get on board.”

Several Australian artists have already mounted the initiative and shared their support. Missy Higgins, for example, said that as “a travelling musician with a conscience, it’s so great to have GMA providing us (and our fans) with some specific resources with which we can try to tread more lightly on the planet”.

Regurgitator, too, added that they “wholeheartedly endorse” the ‘Sound Country’ project as “the perfect starting point to finding ways to consider touring and overall music industry practices with greater awareness, intent and reform in seeking a future for those to come”.

Melbourne songwriter David Bridie (best known as the ex-pianist of Not Drowning, Waving and the frontman of My Friend The Chocolate Cake) said in his statement: “We musicians have a pretty ordinary carbon footprint. Flights, PAs, lighting and electronic gear and so forth. 

“I genuinely endorse the ‘Sound Country’ Green Artist Guide as a clear outline by which musicians can learn more about putting into practice clear ways of looking after the planet – substantially reducing our carbon footprint and being aware of the necessary steps we all need to wake up to. This is a wonderful initiative.”

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