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Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active

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How to Use Music To Reduce Carbon – Concert in the Key of C 

music carbon drawdown Concert in the Key of C brand social media gig

See Through’s storytelling experiment uses unconventional musical performances to nudge Unwilling Inactivists onto a path to effective climate action

See Through’s new entertainment format, designed to use music to speed up carbon drawdown.

How can music reduce carbon?

See Through Carbon’s UK Live Music pilot seeks to accurately measure concerts’ carbon footprint. Gigs generate far more emissions than the industry currently cares to acknowledge. 

This doesn’t mean, however, that music’s appeal, allied with cunning storytelling, can’t be deployed to reduce carbon. We like music. It attracts our attention. Attention is the first requisite for any effective climate action.

This article describes an emerging concept to do just that – Concert in the Key of C.

Concert in the Key of What?

If two data points constitute a trend, why can’t two concerts constitute a carbon-busting format?

Concert in the Key of C (CitKoC) is the result of two experiments two and half years apart, and much on-the-job storytelling and social media tinkering in between. Like any social media play, it depends on good content reaching big audiences. With:

  • A global reach of half a million at mid-2024, growing at 10% per month largely through Facebook
  • The launch See Through Together to replicate eyeball-harvesting on the world’s #2 social media platform, YouTube
  • Upgrades of its See Through News and See Through Carbon websites

See Through is doing OK on both the content and audience fronts.

These numbers suggest See Through can generate attractive enough content to rapidly accumulate a considerable audience of its target audience – non-climate-activists – on a budget of zero.

Concert in the Key of C is the latest addition to a stable of brands that See Through’s global network of pro bono experts are shaping to advance the See Through Goal of

Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active.

Concert in the Key of C uses music to lubricate progress from good intentions to measurable carbon reduction.

Concert in the Key of C format 

What are the key elements of a Concert in the Key of C event?

  • ‘Concert’: A CitKoC is not a ‘proper’ concert. It involves musicians performing live, but must include at least one unusual, unexpected, or unconventional element.
  • ‘Key’: The purpose of the concert is to unlock whatever is obstructing Unwilling Inactivsts (= people who accept the science and reality of human-induced climate change, but who feel powerless to do anything about us = most of us  from taking effective climate action that can ultimately be measured in metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent reduced or sequestered (CO2e). 
  • ‘C’: Ultimately this is ‘C’ as in the chemical symbol for carbon, but this format is deliberately flexible. ‘C’, or its homophones ‘sea’ and ‘see’ and their derivatives, can mean whatever the artist can creatively get away with. C what we did there?

Still unclear? Good, that means you don’t know what to expect, and novel, creative, engaging, appealing content is essential to attract eyeballs (as our Silicon Valley Overlords refer to us) in the Attention Economy. 

To give you a hint of what’s possible, here’s what the first two Concerts in the Key of C did.

1st Concert in the Key of C: Bagpipes & Ukulele

The See Through News press release quoted in an article at the time describes the genesis of the inaugural Concert in the Key of C thus:

‘It all started a couple of weeks ago when See Through News commissioned George Hinchliffe, founder and musical director of The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, to compose an original piece to mark the launch of See Through News at COP26’, explains See Through News’s ‘Gift Horse Distributor’, former news journalist and documentary filmmaker Robert Stern. 

Our only stipulation was that it would be a duet for ukulele and bagpipes. I told George I’d secured the interest of Tam Tam the Piping Bam, Scotland’s Premier Chinese-Speaking Anarchist Bagpiper, for the commission. I’ve known George too long not to have been surprised when he said he could adapt an arrangement for ukulele and bagpipe he’d composed in 1998 but never released. But I didn’t expect him to offer a whole concert’s worth of previously-unheard material.’ 

The lucky few who caught the streamed broadcast during COP26, subscribers to the See Through News newsletter or YouTube channel, and visitors to the See Through News website, will be already familiar with the unique results.

New versions form part of See Through Together YouTube Channel launch, but the material currently available on the See Through News YouTube Channel playlist conforms to the format model:

  • ‘Concert’: The location, a deserted hill on Scotland’s West Coast on which a local woodsman had built the skeleton of an ark, was a mystery to everyone apart from the driver, 
  • ‘Key’: So far as we know, this was the first concert to feature original composition for bagpipe and ukulele, which immediately opens the door to two online audiences.The entire programme was composed of world premiere performances, from ‘The Crusties Are Coming’, a be-bop rap piece, and haunting solo Melodica instrumental. 
  • ‘C’: A Compositional Challenge of a Commission for Cacaphonic Chanter and Cute Chordophone for a Critical Climate Change Conference.

2nd Concert in the Key of C: The Copyright One

The format’s second outing also featured a world premiere of original material by See Through supporter George Hinchliffe. 

Hinchliffe again contributed his performance gratis and pro bono, as did the crew that filmed and edited it, and the team behind the production and social media deployment. 

CitKoC II, as posterity will doubtless know it, was filmed as part of Hinchliffe’s solo headline act at the 2024 Winchester Ukulele Festival. CitKoC II conformed to the format as follows:

  • ‘Concert’: Best known for blending dead-pan shaggy dog humour with mastery of the ukulele, Hinchliffe is also an accomplished musicologist and composer. Long before it became an internet meme, his specialty was spotting how apparently diverse songs shared identical chord sequences. This performance was more compositional masterclass than conventional concert performance.
  • ‘Key’: Hinchliffe has been fronting  his Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain since 1985, selling out the Royal Albert Hall, Sydney Opera House and Carnegie Hall, but solo performances are very rare. Many fans of the band, and music nerds, should find the prospect of a solo performance intriguing, unlocking a previously-inaccessible pool of potential carbon-reducers.
  • ‘C’: Hinchliffe built this performance around an introductory anecdote about an ill-informed promoter who once told him chord sequences could be copyrighted – i.e. appended with ©.

CiTKoC & Pub-crawl Marketing

Concert in the Key of C is a musical variant of a co-branding model being developed by See Through for other content, such as podcast episodes.

The ‘Pub-crawl’ model works by dividing up an item of content (e.g. episodes of  podcast story or segments of a concert) into linked chunks. Each chunk is shared, in sequence, by different hosts (the brands  could be personal or corporate), who share them with their different audiences.

Here’s the 7-step concept. 

  1. You drop into a high street pub for a quick drink to find the entire clientele clustered around a table at which someone is about to start telling a story. You join the back of the crowd. 
  2. Half an hour later, along with others who’ve joined behind you, the story reaches a tantalising cliffhanger climax. You join the baying crowd imploring the Storyteller to tell you What Happens Next.
  3. The Storyteller says the landlord only allows Episode 1 to be told on his premises, but the landlady at the pub a few doors down has given permission for Episode 2.
  4. You all rush to Pub 2, whose regulars are already gathering to hear Episode 2. It too ends on a cliffhanger, with directions to a third neighbouring pub where you can hear Episode 3.
  5. Hours later, Pub 10 is rammed with the accumulated regulars from all 10 pubs to hear Episode 10’s stunning conclusion. As you all savour it, the storyteller says Story 2 starts at Pub 1 tomorrow. 
  6. The next day, you all show up at Pub 1 to see if Story 2 can possibly match the drama and suspense of Story 1.
  7. Repeat.

By serialising and distributing content to be hosted on different platforms and social media brands, pub-crawl marketing creates a win-win for all parties.  

  • The Customers gets great stories for free
  • Each Pub gains new customers
  • The Storyteller gains a bigger audience

Pub-crawl marketing depends on two crucial factors:

  1. Pubs appreciating the potential net benefit of expanding their customers base, rather than narrowly focusing on the risk of losing ‘their’ customers
  2. Killer content that makes you want to know What Happens Next, or Want More

Concert in the Key of C as a standalone brand

Initially, Concert in the Key of C (the Story) benefits from established brand audiences lent it by artists with their own following, like Hinchliffe or other ‘Pub owners’. 

As the Concert in the Key of C becomes its own brand, other artists see the benefit of having their own CitKoCs.

Like all See Through marketing strategies, the pub-crawl method doesn’t presume, or depend on, participants necessarily sharing its goal of measurable carbon reduction. CitKoC designed to ‘work’ even for climate deniers, by integrating commercial or reputational benefit for participants. 

To use the pub-crawl analogy, the landlord doesn’t have to like, or even approve of, the stories themselves, so long as they sell more beer.

But like the ‘You Don’t Have To Be Mad To Work Here, But It Helps’ sign often seen in offices, a sincere commitment to carbon drawdown doesn’t do any harm.

If See Through is the Storyteller, how can it convert those pub regulars (‘eyeballs’ and ‘reach’ on social media) into tonnes of CO2e?

The answer is complex, and addressed by hundreds of related articles on the See Through News website, but here’s a very brief overview.

What’s Carbon Got To Do With It?

Here’s the basic mechanism, which See Through calls ‘C2C’, or ‘Content-to-CO2’’. 

Left to right, See Through’s content, like the Concerts in the Key of C, Ben Law’s Woodland Year, Betting The Farm, How To Live Without Plastic etc., – or any third-party content, go through See Through’s (or someone else’s) online platforms. In the process, the content is seen by the accumulated reach of See Through’s own channels, or other participating hosts/pubs.

These aggregated eyeballs are fed into the C2C process, which outputs CO2e reduction and data, which can be used to inform and enhance the next iteration, in a self-improving system.

What lies inside the C2C box is harder to explain in a single slide, but in the spirit of See Through’s principle of radical transparency, here’s the blueprint.

If all this makes perfect sense to you, and you’re considering it might be worth monetising, good luck. 

C2C was designed to reduce carbon, be driven by volunteers working pro bono, and to output CO2e reduction and data that can be traded for CO2e reduction. 

If See Through is correct in reckoning that C2C won’t work if you try to monetise it, it won’t work if you try to.

But if you can, and still make money while measurably reducing carbon, no one will be more delighted than the See Through team.

Whether you’re just starting out, and looking for experience and mentoring, or retired and looking to put your skills to good use, or somewhere in between and motivated by effective climate action, See Through has a niche for you.

To join See Through team of content creators, social media marketers, graphic designers, project mangers, administrators and software engineers, email: