The vinyl revival is hurting the environment, says Canadian musicologist

Professor Kyle Devine explains how vinyl records are negatively impacting the environment — and why digitally streaming music isn't a better alternative.
The vinyl revival is great news for music aficionados, but professor Kyle Devine says it's also bringing about negative environmental repercussions. (Getty Images)

Vinyl records are back in a big way, but there's an environmental cost related to their resurgence.

U.K. vinyl sales have risen for the past 12 years, and the U.S. now spends as much on vinyl as they do on CDs. In Canada alone, vinyl sales were up to more than one million copies in 2019.

While this revival is great for hipster uncles and music aficionados, it's bad news for the environment, according to a Canadian musicologist.

"The environmental impact of vinyl overall is pretty bad," said Kyle Devine, a Canadian professor of musicology with the University of Oslo in Norway. "What I often say with this, even though music isn't the biggest contributor to these problems, I still don't think that's a good argument for ignoring its own contribution to that, or the fact that it's caught up in bigger things like oil production."

His book Decomposed looks at the ecological impact of music consumption. He recently wrote an article on the environmental costs of the vinyl revival for the Guardian.

Professor Devine joined q host Tom Power live from Oslo to discuss his research.

— Produced by ​Ben Edwards.

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