Whenever a new service or solution espouses the virtues of going digital, the positive effect it would have on the environment is often one of the talking points.

According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Glasgow, that’s not quite the case.

Particularly as it refers to digital music consumption, with the Scottish institution noting that there are more greenhouse gases being pumped out now compared to the 1970s, when vinyl was in its heyday and CDs were just around the corner.

While the study does acknowledge that the switch to digital has indeed lessened the amount of plastic as a result fo the music industry, the additional power needed for services like Spotify, SoundCloud and Apple Music have eclipsed any of the potential offsets.

More specifically during 1977 it’s said that roughly 346 million pounds of greenhouse gas were emitted as a result of vinyl production. When it comes to digital music downloads and streaming, the estimated figure jumps to between 441 million and 772 million pounds.

While the study could make for some harrowing reading, it is important to note that it does not account for such things as some of the other savings as a result of digital music growth, including the reduction in transport and manufacturing costs.

Added to that is the fact that far more people have the ability to access music today compared to the 1970s, which will naturally drive up figures like power consumption.

As such this study should not be viewed as fear mongering, but rather as a suggestion for looking at other solutions when it comes to listening to and enjoying music, which is a sentiment shared by one of the researchers involved, Dr Matt Brennan.

“We see raising awareness of the findings as a first step towards developing alternatives, where music consumption can become both economically sustainable for makers while being environmentally sustainable for the planet,” he adds.

Whether music lovers will indeed want to make a switch now that they’ve joined the digital revolution, is unclear.

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