◎挪威奧斯陸大學副教授Kyle Devine與英國格拉斯哥大學的Matt Brennan博士合作開展了一項名為「音樂成本」的研究計畫。他們對美國的錄製音樂消費和製作進行了檔案研究，比較了不同時期不同格式的經濟和環境成本。
◎Kyle Devine則研究了從70年代到今天的音樂消費所需的環境成本。隨著下載和串流接管了音樂行業，美國唱片產業使用的塑料數量急劇減少。Kyle Devine表示「你可能會直觀地認為較少的實體產品意味著碳排放量會大大減少，不幸的是，事實並非如此。」在雲端存儲和處理音樂需要使用大量資源和能源的大型數據中心。Kyle Devine將塑料製作和用於存儲和傳輸數位音頻文件的電力轉化成導致溫室效應的氣體當量（GHGs），然後他比較了1977年、1988年、2000年和2016年美國錄製音樂的GHGs。調查結果很明顯，在今日由錄製的音樂引起的GHGs比過去高得多，1977年錄製音樂引起的GHGs為1.4億公斤，而到2016年，它們估計在2億公斤到3.5億公斤之間。
Associate professor at The University of Oslo, Kyle Devine, has collaborated with Dr. Matt Brennan at the University of Glasgow on a research project called «The Cost of Music».
They have conducted archival research on recorded music consumption and production in the US, comparing the economic and environmental costs of different formats at different times.
Regarding the economic cost, the researchers found that the price consumers have been willing to pay for owning recorded music has changed dramatically.
In 1977 consumers were willing to pay roughly 4,83 percent of their average weekly salary for a vinyl album. In 2013, this number is down to roughly 1.22 percent of the equivalent salary for a digital album in 2013.
"Consumers now have unlimited access to almost all recorded music ever released via platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube, Pandora and Amazon," Devine says.
While his colleague in Glasgow has concentrated on studying the economic costs, Devine has looked into the environmental cost of music consumption from the 1970s to today.
As downloading and streaming took over the music industry, the amount of plastics used by the US recording industry dropped dramatically.
"Intuitively you might think that less physical product means far lower carbon emissions. Unfortunately, this is not the case," Devine says.
Storing and processing music in the cloud depends on vast data centers that use a tremendous amount of resources and energy.
Devine has translated plastic productions and the electricity use to store and transmit digital audio files into greenhouse gas equivalents (GHGs). He has then compared the GHGs from recorded music in the US in 1977, 1988, 2000 and 2016.
The findings are clear. The GHGs caused by recorded music are much higher today than in the past. In 1977 the GHGs from, recorded music were 140 million kg.
By 2016, they were estimated to somewhere between 200 million kg and over 350 million kg.
"I am a bit surprised. The hidden environmental cost of music consumption is enormous," he says.
He emphasizes that the point of the research project is not to ruin one of life's greatest pleasures, but to encourage consumers to become more curious about the choices they make as they consume culture.
Are we remunerating the artists who make our favourite music in a way that accurately reflects our appreciation? Are streaming platforms the right business model to facilitate that exchange? Is streaming music remotely from the cloud the most appropriate way to listen to music from the perspective of environmental sustainability?
These are the questions the researchers want to see in a broader public conversation.
"There are no easy solutions, but taking a moment to reflect on the costs of music and how they have changed over time, is a step in the right direction," Devine says.