No Music On a Dead Planet

Frederike Berendsen (Conservatorium van Amsterdam, Pop Department) has graduated with the book No Music On a Dead Planet: a 4 step guide to reducing your environmental impact as an artist in today’s music industry.   

Frederike: ‘I believe that the arts can play a key role in tackling the climate crisis; the biggest challenge facing our generation. The cultural sector reaches 90% of all Dutch citizens every year. The sector brings people together and has an unparalleled ability to touch the hearts of the general public through music, stories and images. And that is necessary to set people in motion. My graduation project is a 4-step plan to reduce your environmental impact as an artist in today’s music industry. The book contains lots of practical tips to reduce the ecological footprint of tours, music distribution and merchandise production, and shows how a rapidly growing number of artists are using their platforms to facilitate the cultural change that is needed to protect life on Earth. 

I hope that the suggestions in these chapters will inspire the reader to be creative in finding sustainable solutions, join forces and create a world and music industry that can live on for generations to come. In conjunction with my research, I set up the Dutch branch of the international organisation Music Declares Emergency (MDE) together with a team of 17 artists and climate scientists. Through MDE NL, my graduation project is finding its way to the Dutch music industry through my participation in panels and by giving presentations at leading music conferences, such as ADE Green, the VNPF congress and Eurosonic Noorderslag. I am also in talks with partners, such as Mojo, Popronde, BAM! Popauteurs and Buma Stemra. 

I had my graduation project printed as an A5 booklet by sustainable printing company Groenprint in Rotterdam (on Paperwise paper made from agricultural waste and printed with biodegradable ink). There appears to be a lot of enthusiasm among artists in the Netherlands, as a result of which this week will see the second printing of the booklet.'

(This thesis is a four-step guide for artists, whether established or not, in today’s music industry. It starts with some context regarding where we are at this moment in our global fight against the climate crisis and acknowledging the critical point we’ve reached that necessitates immediate action. This guide contains many practical tips to reduce the environmental footprint of your tours, music distribution, merchandise production, and showcases ways in which artists are using their platforms to facilitate the cultural change needed to protect all life on Earth. I hope this guide can play a role in developing regenerative and sustainable practices that can have an impact over time and hopefully inspire your fans and other artists to follow in your footsteps. Artists have the power to change hearts and minds, spark the imagination and make sustainable and regenerative practices the new normal. We have the power to change our culture to one that treats our planet and all life on it with the respect it deserves).

'The role of the artist is to make the revolution irresistible.'
T.C. Bambara (auteur, documentairemaker, sociaal activist en universiteitsprofessor)


Blanka Pesja, Senior Educator Pop Department, Conservatorium van Amsterdam: 'The Master’s thesis No Music On A Dead Planet was given a 9.5 as final mark by the thesis committee. In addition, as a booklet the thesis is part of Music Declares Emergency (NL), a movement that was co-founded by Frederike and which has now been signed by 3,327 artists, 1,459 organisations and 1,620 individuals; a very strong connection with the outside world. It is evident that this research is extremely relevant to the development of our field and far beyond that. Not only to increase awareness, but even more so as an appeal to actively start using this practical guide.'

AiméeKampschöer, MSc Metropolitan Analysis Design & Engineering: 'One of the most valuable aspects of ‘No music on a dead planet’ is Frederike’s thorough research, which reveals which ecological problems an artist encounters in the profession and which first steps forward can be taken in this regard. She shows that there’s still a lot of work to be done and that lots of matters require more research/innovation, that many sustainability issues are complex and far from clear-cut, and that many different considerations need to be weighed up. In this way, the thesis invites a discussion that we all need to have about how we want to make and experience music in a green future, and is therefore extremely relevant to the further development of the field.  

Moreover, the thesis was written on the basis of Frederike’s own quest. This open-hearted and relatable way of writing makes the thesis an inspiration for other artists who are also worried about the climate, but don’t know where to begin, what’s possible and who is already working on this. The thesis provides practical knowledge and creates a feeling of community.'

A project of: Frederike Berendsen