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Pack mentality - the sustainable, musical version

It's easy to focus on the hard infrastructure of sustainability - renewable energy, passive solar homes, minimising resource use, avoiding waste, recycling and so on. But a focus on community is absolutely essential to sustainability, and arts and music can play a huge role improving social cohesion and human wellbeing. Social, environmental and economic factors interrelate, and you have to pay attention to all of them to achieve sustainability, illustrated in the simple venn diagram below:

If you do it right, you can address multiple issues at once: economic development, inequality, the need for a closed loop economy, the need to build social equity and resilience and so on. And if you do it right, it's fun.

So here's a great example of 21st century innovation for sustainability through music: The Pack Australia.

This fantastic start-up not-for-profit has been created by a group of Perth musos who explain that "unlike other music streaming services, we are a cultural, social enterprise whose main aim is to improve the lives and revenue opportunities of our home grown, original songwriters, composers and musicians".

They (and everyone who participates) form "a community dedicated to creating a web based streaming platform and app which facilitates direct connection between local, original musicians; any Australian business that plays recorded music on their premises; and any Australian who loves supporting local, original music".

The Pack is designed to "foster direct interactions between The Pack, individual listeners and local businesses to create incentives and benefits for all parties - a true circular, local economy". The Pack has a particular focus on supporting women and Indigenous people.

It's "conscious consumerism" for people who "want to know that where they spend their money has a positive impact from a social, environmental and economic perspective - whether it be on locally grown food, ethical fashion, cruelty free beauty products, Indigenous enterprises, renewable energy, social enterprises or fair trade products".

The developers explain that musicians are some of the best qualified, but most poorly paid, workers in Australia. The average earnings of a working, unsigned Australian musician is around $7500 per year. That's not a living wage.

Each time a song is played on The Pack Australia, an "original, Australian, unsigned artist is fairly paid, and real-time data is collected to make sure that money goes directly into their pocket".

Instead of laughably low streaming fees, the Pack will have a transparent “pool”, where 50% of all profits go directly to artists on the basis of their play data. They've committed to keeping that figure the same no matter how big The Pack gets, thereby putting money back into the Australian arts ecology (I love this term).

This initiative covers several of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Responsible Consumption and Production; Reduced Inequalities; Sustainable Cities and Communities; Decent Work and Economic Growth; Gender Equality; and Good Health and Wellbeing spring to mind immediately.

All this, and all they're trying to do is have fun playing and listening to music, and receive fair reward for their efforts.

*Disclaimer - As an old muso who thinks they are great, I'm going to try to help them get going!

#sustainability #music #localcommunity #circulareconomy