We didn’t need another reason to love Lorde, but she delivered anyways. The ‘Royals’ singer announced this week that not only will her third studio album, Solar Power, be released on August 20, but it will not be available on CDs.
“No CDs this time, I didn’t wanna make something that would end up in a landfill in 2 years,” Lorde said in a bulletin to her newsletter subscribers. “But more than that, I wanted to make something that symbolized my commitment to asking questions of our systems, and making stuff with intention and sensitivity.”
The decision to forego CDs, which are not recyclable and often end up in the bin after being scratched, dropped, left in the sun or chewed on by your dog, comes as a result of Lorde’s passion for the environment.
“The album is a celebration of the natural world, an attempt at immortalizing the deep, transcendent feelings I have when I’m outdoors,” she said in a press statement. “In times of heartache, grief, deep love, or confusion, I look to the natural world for answers. I’ve learned to breathe out, and tune in. This is what came through.”
So with no CDs, how can you listen to what will undoubtedly be the soundtrack to your summer? One option is via what Lorde coined a “music box.”
“It’ll be the same size and shape as a CD and you can buy it where CDs live, but this is something totally different,” she said in her newsletter. “If you’re torn on which hold-in-you-hands, flip-through-the-pages thing to buy to enjoy this album, honestly, I’d go for the music box.”
The eco-conscious CD alternative will contain handwritten notes, photos, a download card, and bonus tracks. However, those who prefer a more old-school method of enjoying music need not fear—Solar Power will still be available on vinyl, and there will be no waiting, you can buy the record on the same day the album is released.
What is the most eco-friendly way to listen to Solar Power?
So there are three options for enjoying Lorde’s new music—music box, vinyl, or streaming, but which one is actually best for the environment?
While streaming may seem like the obvious answer (no materials, no shipping), it actually depends. If you plan on listening to the album repeatedly (which, lets be honest will likely be the case for most of us) it may actually be more eco-friendly to pick up a physical vinyl copy of Solar Power. Why? Repeatedly streaming an album uses up energy. In fact streaming an album over the internet more than 27 times will likely use more energy than it takes to produce and manufacture a CD.
But that doesn’t mean that modern day vinyl doesn’t come with its drawbacks. Most records are made of PVC, which can take centuries to decompose. And it’s also worth noting that most of us want to listen to music on the go these days and unfortunately record players aren’t quite pocket-sized. In this instance the music box is quite appealing from an environmental perspective.
You’ll get physical (and plastic-free) mementos of the album and the ability to download all of the music straight to your phone. Downloading, as opposed to streaming, helps cut down on the energy it takes to get a song from data centers to your ears.
Don’t stress too much about how you listen though—no need to induce any eco-anxiety here. The fact that Lorde is thinking about the carbon footprint of her creations at all is music to our ears.