Q’s With A Pollstar Live! Panelist: Michael Martin, EFFECT Partners

– Michael Martin

Sustainability and environmentalism are increasingly becoming important topics of conversation around the world and Michael Martin, the founder and CEO of Effect Partners, has dedicated a career to these issues.

He produced the National Earth Day concerts to help make Earth Day an annual event when he ran Concerts For The Environment from 1990 – 1995. Martin created what has been called the first National Global Warming Campaign with Dave Matthews Band. He even worked with James Cameron on Avatar.

His upcoming projects include working with the largest funder of vegan projects in the world and the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.

Martin is scheduled to moderate the “Sustainability: How Green Touring Impacts The Greenbacks” panel at Production Live! Feb. 11. Panelists joining him include Nic Adler of Goldenvoice, Tom Chauncey of Partisan Arts, Dianna Cohen  of Plastic Pollution Coalition, Farid Mosher of C3 Presents, and Tanner Watt of Reverb.

Martin took a few minutes to speak to Pollstar about his work and the panel.

What are most looking forward to about your Sustainability panel?
It’s an amazing, talented group of panelists that are experts in their field. I am excited about inspiring the attendees about how you can have an impact on sustainability in ways that can maybe save money.

What should people understand about the potential to save money with sustainability?
You use less resources, you use less money. What’s happening, from an audience standpoint, is kids coming to shows expect things to be done in a sustainable manner. From communication, to beverage service, to how the venue is powered, to how bands travel, it can all be impacted by sustainable actions.

Should people prioritize sustainability over profitability?
Well, the music industry is a for-profit industry, so we have to make a profit first. But long term, it’s a false choice to say: profits versus environment. The reality is there are so many things that are being done just because that’s the way it’s always been done, but just don’t make sense financially or environmentally.

The thing I focus on right now is single-use plastic cups. It doesn’t make economic, environmental, or operational sense for 4 billion single-use plastic cups to be used once and then thrown out into landfills, incinerators or the environment.

What aspect are you most looking forward to at this year’s Pollstar Live! Conference and why?
Besides the sustainability panel? Just reconnecting with my old friends, partners who have supported the sustainability and social change industry.

What were some of your biggest accomplishments this year?
Biggest accomplishment was launching r.CUP [addressing single-use plastic cups at events]. It is Revolutionizing the live industry. It is a rentable cup program used for major events.  Fans put down a $3 deposit for a high quality event branded re-usable cup. They can return the cup for a full refund or they can keep the cup.

We have worked with U2’s tour, Dave Matthews Band, Jack Johnson, Rod Stewart, Radiohead at the world’s biggest, most important venues, and some of the least important venues as well  (laughs) – Hollywood Bowl, The Shoreline, Madison Square Garden, The O2 – London, Mercedes-Benz Arena. It’s a program that basically allows concessionaires to make money because we provide cups for them. Festivals can make money. The fans get a much better drinking experience and they can return the cup when they’re done.

What was the live show or shows that most changed your life and why?
Well, it probably was the Earth Day festivals that we created from 1990-1995. Reuniting Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in 1993 [was special].

Jonathan Kraft called me the day after we produced the Earth Day 1990 concert and said, “I love what you did. My dad just bought the Patriots, we have this stadium. Would you do it here?”

And we started doing the first multi-format festivals. Way before the radio festivals, way before the Bonnaroos. It helped prove that it can work to put rap artists with country artists with alternative with classic. We did that from the standpoint that the environment effects everybody, but it worked.