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IMPALA is launching a program to help make the European independent music industry more sustainable, the trade body announced today.

The sustainability program is based on a package compiled by a task force initiated and chaired by Horst Weidenmüller, CEO at Europe-based label group !K7. The package includes a 15-point climate charter that sets a goal of a climate positive membership by 2030, with an interim net zero target for 2026. Though the targets are voluntary, IMPALA will provide access to guidance and training for members to assist them in reaching them.

The climate charter includes commitments to appoint a climate advocate for IMPALA’s board and each committee; engage with suppliers to promote more sustainable practices; map and share best practices across Europe; and help IMPALA members apply for EU funding for climate projects, among other goals.

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One specific initiative under the program will be the development of the first carbon-accounting tool specific to recorded music, covering both the supply chain and label activities. Collective offset investment options for IMPALA members will also be considered.

Last month, IMPALA made one of its first strides in meeting the climate charter’s targets by asking streaming services to help assess and reduce the carbon footprint of digital music, which was unveiled as part of a comprehensive ten-step streaming plan. Among other things, the plan asks DSPs to help reduce artists’ reliance on touring by creating “new initiatives and products” to increase their earnings in the streaming space.

In addition to Weidenmüller, the task force which developed the sustainability package includes Alison Tickell, founder and CEO of Julie’s Bicycle; as well as Beggars Group head of sustainability Will Hutton and Ninja Tune co-CEO Peter Quicke, both of whom were part of the group which presented the package to the IMPALA board.

“IMPALA’s programme means we can plan ahead, provide real sustainability options for artists and develop flexible tools for members,” said Weidenmüller. “Acting early isn’t just a climate question, it avoids disruption and carbon taxes. Credibility is important, so we are including the supply chain. Our ultimate ambition is to be carbon positive rather than just neutral. This is what sets IMPALA’s work apart in the music sector today.”

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Added IMPALA executive chair Helen Smith, “IMPALA’s mission is for the sector to grow sustainably. Our guidance for members sets out common-sense steps that a company can take voluntarily and expand afterwards if needed. Many of the issues can’t be solved by members acting on their own, but a collective approach will make the difference. We see this programme as part of our role of being a leader and will work with all others in the sector interested in accelerating change.”

The IMPALA task force behind the sustainability package also includes IMPALA treasurer Geert de Blaere of BMG Benelux’s N.E.W.S. and the Belgian Independent Music Association (BIMA); Danko Stefanović of the Regional Association of Independent Discographers (RUNDA); Paul Pacifico of the Association of Independent Music (AIM) in the U.K.; Sonia Durán of the Independent Phonographic Union (UFI) in Spain; and Zsolt Jeges of the Hungarian Association of Independent Labels (HAIL). Additional input was provided by Jacob Bilabel from the German environmental think tank THEMA1.

Today’s announcement follows IMPALA’s participation, with other music groups, in a February 2020 meeting with Frans Timmermans, the European Commission’s executive vp in charge of the EU’s fight against climate change, as well as the Commission’s culture commissioner Mariya Gabriel.

Additional information on the sustainability program will be provided by Horst and Tickell on IMPALA’s podcast series 20MinutesWith on April 22, Earth Day.

The 15-point climate charter can be found in full below.

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IMPALA commits to:

  • Hold framework for European independent music sector targets
  • Convene and administer a Sustainability Task Force
  • Appoint a climate advocate for IMPALA’s board and each committee
  • Develop carbon reporting tool for members, disclose aggregate statistics
  • Transparently monitor and report own climate impacts
  • Map and share examples of best practices across Europe
  • Make climate literacy training available twice a year
  • Produce guidance for members with practical tips
  • Recognise no one size fits all, each company & country is different
  • Engage with suppliers to promote change across the supply chain
  • Work with digital music services to assess & reduce carbon footprint
  • Explore possible collective offsetting solutions for the sector
  • Support initiatives using music & culture to mobilise climate action
  • Inform members about EU funding for climate projects, help them apply
  • Speak out where we support specific issues and use our voice in Brussels
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