The Music Industry Goes Green

How musicians, venues, promoters, and labels are cleaning up their acts for the big summer season.

The Music Industry Goes Green
Peter Shapiro, Executive Producer, Green Apple Festival New York, NY | Photograph by Alex Tehran Peter Shapiro, Executive Producer, Green Apple Festival New York, NY | Photograph by Alex Tehran

Peter Shapiro

Executive Producer
Green Apple Festival
New York, New York


The Connector
PETER SHAPIRO, 35, who produced the movie U23D, organized the largest Earth Day event in the United States, this year’s Green Apple Festival, which spanned eight cities including Washington, D.C. (pictured).

“When I took over the Wet- lands [a pioneering eco-minded music club in New York] in 1996, it was so hard to keep the business green. So my brother and I founded an environmental-consulting firm where we help companies such as GE and Ralph Lauren. But I wanted to go beyond the corporate world, and in 2006, I started the Green Apple Festival. The goal isn’t primarily financial. We use music to get people out to free events where they’re going to learn something. And we give 200 environmental organizations across the country a way to talk to people.”

Jack Johnson

Brushfire Records
Oahu, Hawaii


The Surf Crooner
Jack Johnson, 33, who recorded his new album, Sleep Through the Static, using solar energy, mandates that his concert promoters recycle and buy carbon offsets. This year, he launched the All at Once online social networking site, through which fans can support environmental nonprofits.

“We started doing shows in 1998, first in clubs, then in theaters, then in amphitheaters. And one day, you look around, and you realize that there are trucks and buses and the tour has a pretty large carbon footprint. So we started running our buses on biodiesel, which is pretty comparable in price, and working to buy offsets. With this year’s tour, we’re bringing in nonprofits. We’ll see if we can up their membership or give away tickets so they can raise money. We match our audience contributions dollar for dollar, up to $2,500 per charity.”

Sarah Haynes

Founder and CEO
The Spitfire Agency
Mill Valley, California


The Organizer
Sarah Haynes, 43, owns the Spitfire Agency, which helps music events such as Michigan’s Rothbury Festival (July 3–6) be more eco-friendly.

“I used to run a music-and-lifestyle marketing company–we worked on the Bud Light snowboard tours and Ozzfest–and one day, I met Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine. They were singing about the Zapatista revolution, but the kids thought they were playing party anthems. The message wasn’t coming through. So along with Zack and some friends, I created the Spitfire Tour, which went to colleges with political and environmental speakers. Today, at the Spitfire Agency, we produce events, book talent, and arrange sponsorships. Our most ambitious project is the Rothbury Festival, featuring everyone from Dave Matthews to Snoop Dogg. We’re sourcing everything green, from cups and plates to food, and we’re recycling and composting. We’re also encouraging fans to pay an extra $3 per ticket, for carbon offsets. Or they can pay an extra $7, which adds in the cost of buying solar panels for the local school.”

Adam Gardnerand Lauren Sullivan

Portland, Maine


The Road Warriors
Adam Gardner, 35, singer and guitarist for the pop-rock band Guster, runs Reverb with his wife, Lauren Sullivan, 34. Their tour consultancy greens up dozens of acts, including John Mayer and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Gardner: “A lot of bands are green minded, but their actions don’t match that. Reverb lays out an entire menu of options: recycling, carbon offsets, green catering. Even such things as watching how much the bus is idling and using rechargeable batteries in the monitor packs. Then there are the big-ticket items, such as using biodiesel. If bands tell us what route they’re taking, we’ll help them find fuel on the way or arrange to have a truck go to the venue with fuel. More than 80% of a concert’s CO2 footprint is from fans’ commutes, so we also help set up carpooling options.”

John Esposito

CEO and President
WEA Corp.
New York, New York


The Insider
John Esposito, 52, has made environmental impact a priority as CEO and president of Warner Music Group’s distribution arm, WEA–and has saved big money in the process.

“In 2004, we had the NRDC do a survey of our paper practices. We started vetting paper suppliers, and we ended up saving a million dollars. We converted our video release catalog to paperless, which saves hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we plan to do the same with our audio catalog. Our eco-team, which has 15 employees from different departments, looks for new challenges, such as how to switch CDs from plastic jewel cases to cardboard digipacks. The efficiencies of the jewel case are extraordinary, so 70% of CDs still use it. We have a lot of work to do on that.”