Billie Eilish Honored for Green Touring as Universal Music and Reverb Expand Partnership

With all of the challenges facing touring musicians in this post-pandemic world, environmental friendliness may not be a top-three priority for many. Yet touring takes an enormous toll on the environment, and musicians such as Billie Eilish, Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson, Lorde, Harry Styles, Guster and many others have been active and outspoken in their support of green initiatives for touring.

At their Grammy Week showcase on Saturday, Universal Music Group announced the expansion of its partnership with Reverb, a leading non-profit that works with artists, festivals, and venues to increase sustainability and reduce their environmental footprint. That expansion includes the first-ever Universal Music Group x Reverb Amplifier Award, recognizing the artist “best exemplifying the commitment to, and achievement of, measurable steps to reduce their environmental footprint and support nonprofit causes through direct fan engagement at shows, online and beyond.”

Billie Eilish was named the inaugural recipient, “for her trailblazing advocacy for sustainability and the environmental movement,” the announcement states. “Eilish utilized her platform to magnify and bring attention to the work of nonprofit organizations around the globe while engaging her fans and the music industry in meaningful climate action.”

The move joins similar efforts by AEG, Live Nation and the National Independent Venue Association as well as many festivals — particularly European ones like Norway’s Oya Festival — to increase sustainability via reusable bottles, recycling, CO2 reduction, composting and other efforts.

Eilish was presented the award by UMG Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge, Reverb Co-Founder Adam Gardner and its director of sustainable touring Lara Seaver.

Eilish opened her comments by joking about the award’s weight, “Wow, that is heavy as shit,” to laughter, before saying she felt honored and privileged and thanked her mother — who has played a leading role in Eilish’s environmental efforts — Grainge, Reverb and others.

“I do as much as I can,” she continued, “I know I can always do more, and I feel really impressed and excited that you guys are actually making this a priority and doing your part. I spend a lot of time feeling really anxious about the fact that… I feel like a lot of people, and especially a lot of people in the business, don’t care very much [about sustainability]. Everyone in this room, and all of us, can do our part, and I know a lot of you got some money in your pockets,” she laughed, “so maybe use it for good things, not stupid things. It’s really nice to see this is happening.”

In presenting the award, Grainge said, “Your stellar example and active leadership has inspired us to transform our own events as a company. Everything UMG is doing this weekend has been designed both to reduce our environmental impact and to increase community engagement on the issue. We are so thrilled you are the first recipient of this award, an award you so well deserve.”

To that end, Saturday’s event featured all plant-based and locally sourced food (both of which reduce carbon emissions), recycled materials and renewable energy sources, among other efforts, which the company said will serve as a model for future events.

The award’s announcement also included a statement from California Governor Gavin Newsom: “At a time when the world is grappling with the dire consequences of the climate crisis, it’s more important than ever for all of us to step up and take meaningful action to reduce our environmental footprint. That’s why I commend Universal Music Group for their bold efforts to lead by example and show the rest of us how it’s done. This is our collective responsibility, and it’s incumbent that we work together towards building a more sustainable future for generations to come.”

Susan Mazo, UMG’s EVP of corporate social responsibility, events and special projects, said of the initiative, “We’re proud to build on our relationship with Reverb by partnering with them on two of our flagship events this year. With all eyes on the music industry in Los Angeles this week, this collaboration underscores our commitment to produce more eco-friendly events in order to set a new and sustainable standard across the industry. We are proud that these showcase sustainability in action while also supporting many of our other philanthropic partners.”

Technical support for these events is being provided by Three Squares Inc., a sustainability consultancy with a division that specializes in designing events. The announcement states that the event’s assets will be designed for future reuse, leftover materials will be donated locally in Los Angeles to education organizations, and carbon emissions from the event will be measured and tracked to inform future reductions for UMG events.

UMG also stated that its events will support a number of emerging technologies, including:

•    Climeworks, a leader in CO2 removal that uses Direct Air Capture to remove the CO2 directly from the air so that it can be stored safely in the deep underground. 

•    Overdrive Energy Solutions, a company that provides smart battery power stations recharged by renewable energy.

•    FLOR carbon neutral green carpet, made from recycled content and manufactured using 100% renewable electricity.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 04: Billie Eilish attends Sir Lucian Grainge’s 2023 Artist Showcase, Presented By Merz Aesthestics’ Xperience+ and Coke Studio” at Milk Studios Los Angeles on February 04, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Universal Music Group)

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