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REVERB: Helping SXSW & Luck Reunion Decarbonize

REVERB team members Paige Roth (far left) and Livy Hally (far right) with members of the Green Corn Project team at the Billboard Stage at SXSW

Team REVERB headed to Texas last month to help decarbonize festival stages at South by Southwest and Luck Reunion, facilitate discussion on the future of climate solutions in live music, and fundraise for environmental causes in partnership with Billboard. It was a busy and fulfilling week, made all the better by great music, delicious food, and a much-needed bit of sunshine in the midst of Maine winter.

After our trip to Texas, we can officially confirm that greats like Willie Nelson and Bootsy Collins sound even better on diesel-free stages! As part of the Music Decarbonization Project—REVERB’s campaign to directly eliminate carbon emissions created by the music industry—we teamed up with Overdrive Energy Solutions to power SXSW’s Community Concert stage and all the stages at Luck Reunion with solar-charged intelligent battery systems.

This technology eliminated the need for the diesel generators that these festivals have historically relied on, saving over 12 metric tons of CO2E across both events. That’s equivalent to over 30,000 miles driven!

Bringing battery-powered, carbon-eliminating technology to the fore at big-name festivals like SXSW, Luck Reunion, and Lollapalooza sends a strong signal to the music industry that replacing diesel generators with solar-powered batteries is not only sustainable—it’s viable, effective, and trustworthy.

Neel Vasavada, co-founder of Overdrive, echoes that sentiment: “Reverb and Overdrive are influencing the industry by proving that battery electrical systems are often more reliable, sustainable and less polluting than diesel generators. With no harmful emissions and nearly silent operation, they improve both the artist and audience experience, while providing staff and productions a healthier work environment. Diesel generators are among the most harmful and polluting power sources in use today, and by moving our concerts and festivals to battery, solar and hybrid power, we can lead the world in the transition to clean & sustainable energy.”

This positive momentum was evident at “A Greener Music Industry: Challenges, Solutions & Potential,” a SXSW Fireside Chat facilitated by REVERB’s Director of Partnerships Tanner Watt in conversation with Luck Reunion Founder Matt Bizer and Director of Billboard Dance Katie Bain. As media outlets like Billboard respond to growing climate-consciousness among music fans with informative, solution-driven reporting, industry leaders are becoming increasingly willing to adopt climate solutions.

Left: REVERB’s Tanner Watt in conversation with Matt Bizer at their SXSW Fireside Chat; Right: Katie Bain, Tanner Watt, and Matt Bizer

That said, implementing new technology in an industry built upon tradition typically begets some resistance. “Consistency becomes the driver for so many people [in the music industry]. You’ll hear very often, ‘Well, that’s the way we do it,’” Matt explained.

In order to argue with that logic, we realized we’d have to take a big swing at last year’s Luck Reunion. We had to definitively prove that this technology works before we could ask festivals to change the way they’ve always done business. Thankfully, Matt and the Luck Reunion team were game to give it a shot.

SXSW9It absolutely paid off: the solar-powered main stage at Luck Reunion 2023 was definitive proof that zero-emission technology can power large-scale live music events. And with that track record in place, the Luck team opted to integrate intelligent battery power into 2024 and beyond as a staple of their festival.

As Matt explained, positive changes can—and will—be made when people take the time to learn about these solutions, build confidence about their effectiveness, and bring on experts who can point to a successful track record.

SXSW10While in Texas, we continued the positive impact by raising money for environmental causes at Billboard’s THE STAGE at SXSW. While PARTYNEXTDOOR, Illenium, and Christian Nodal brought the house down, Austin nonprofit Green Corn Project educated fans about their work to help low-income Central Texans grow their own high-quality, fresh vegetables by planting organic gardens.

Amongst all this encouraging discussion, incredible music, and delicious Tex Mex, the REVERB team also enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with our wonderful partners at HeadCount, The Ally Coalition, and Oxfam.

Here’s to more great music on decarbonized stages!