On a Quest to Make Music Streaming Greener, Kpop Fan Activists Gets One Major Company to Change Its Tune


On a Quest to Make Music Streaming Greener, Kpop Fan Activists Gets One Major Company to Change Its Tune

04 April 2023 – by KPOP4Planet   Comments (0)

Moments of great change can often be traced back to a single moment or a person deciding to do something different. So when Kpop4Planet said they wanted to make fans aware that streaming music contributes to carbon emissions, they aimed high. Through an awareness campaign and petition drive that started last June, the group brought the message to fans worldwide – but they also brought it to the music streaming companies themselves.
Kpop4Planet is a fan-driven climate organisation for K-pop fans, by K-pop fans, working together to take action against the climate crisis.

According to one U.K. study, streaming music for five hours is worse for the environment than a physical CD or vinyl album. In general, K-pop fans are mass music consumers, and according to a survey they ran, they listen to music two hours longer a day than the average person. Kpop4Planet decided to take action by demanding that Korean music streaming giants like Melon, Vibe and Genie make their streams green by 2030, thereby providing a more sustainable alternative to buying physical albums and using data centres.

“I led the “No Kpop on a Dead Planet” campaign, which addressed the album waste issue – but many fans weren’t aware of the streaming issues,” said lead campaigner Dayeon Lee. “I thought that was because you can physically see the album waste versus the carbon emissions from streaming,” she continued. “I saw an article from the news that said streaming made more emissions than a physical CD or vinyl, and I was shocked.”
“So I thought we should come together and do something and get the streaming companies to take climate action too,” she said.

The campaign gathered over 10,000 signatures within a month and became too big to be ignored by the mega-music company Melon, owned by Kakao. Melon is South Korea’s largest and most popular music subscription service, with over 30 million users and 5 million paid users. It is an essential service for K-pop fans, who use the streaming service’s real-time chart to measure the success of their favourite groups. On March 14, 2023, Kpop4Planet met with Melon, where they assured Kpop4Planet they would use renewable energy by 2030 by switching to cloud services. Google’s cloud aims to use 100% carbon-free energy by 2030, while Amazon has set an ambitious target of 100% renewable energy by 2025.
One study suggests that cloud computing can help companies reduce their per-user carbon footprint from 30% (for large enterprises) to 90% (for small businesses).

“I still remember worrying about the meeting when I wrote out the campaign plan. I wasn’t sure if they would even meet with us or talk with us as one of the biggest corporations in Korea with many users,” Lee said. “I didn’t think they were going to listen to us. So when I heard that we could have a private meeting, I was excited because I could have a meaningful conversation and talk about using renewable energy.”

“It was an opportunity to directly talk to them about how K-pop fans feel and how we don’t want to feel guilty streaming our favourite artists. I was nervous and worried they would reject us – but they didn’t.”

The campaign was a massive success and a big win for the environment and our future. It also proved that major corporations could and will make changes when the right pressure from their consumers, in this case, K-pop fans, is applied.
“I still think the result of our campaign is surreal, the physical album issue was directly connected to the K-pop industry, and many fans were aware of the problems – but for the streaming campaign, I had to raise the issue and raise awareness myself,” Lee said.

“I think this campaign was the first step that showed we can change an industry that is not directly connected to the K-pop industry. This made me more motivated and passionate about working for Kpop4Planet and planning more campaigns I can do with K-pop fans worldwide.”

KPOP4PLANET is a global climate activist platform launched in March 2021 by K-pop fans. It is composed of fandoms across the world, including in South Korea and Indonesia. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Energy Tracker Asia.

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