Published Sep 14, 2012Over the past decade or so, many music fans have scaled back their CD purchasing in favour of digital downloads and online streaming. And while this move ostensibly seems to be more environmentally friendly -- there are less plastic jewel cases after all -- a new report by MusicTank suggests that online streaming comes with serious environmental consequences of its own.
The 50-page report, entitled The Dark Side of the Tune: The Hidden Energy Cost of Digital Music Consumption notes that, while digital music has obvious advantages -- namely a reduction in CD pressing plants and transport trucks -- online streaming also comes with a significant environmental footprint.
This is thanks to the massive amount of energy required for online music, which depends on what author Dagfinn Bach calls "sprawling server farms and a complex, energy-sapping network infrastructure."
So exactly how much damage does streaming do in compared with CDs? According to the report, "Streaming or downloading 12 tracks, without compression, just 27 times by one user would, in energy terms, equate to the production and shipping of one physical 12-track CD album.
"Repeated streaming of individual tracks may not necessarily be a desirable long-term solution with respect to energy consumption for the life cycle of a sound recording."
It's definitely something to think about, and you can download the report here and make your own conclusions.