Apple, Spotify, Pandora: Which is the most eco-friendly audio streaming service?

image of a woman listening to music using headphones

You may be listening to Armstrong’s “a wonderful world,” but your audio streaming services may be emitting tons of pollution backstage. Music may work wonders for your body. However, it is essential to think if our technologically advanced music listening habits are sustainable for the Earth. A 2017 report by, “Clicking Clean: Who is winning the race to build a green internet?” sheds light on how eco-friendly the most popular audio streaming services are. The most eco-friendly audio streaming service is Apple Music and iTunes. What about Spotify and Pandora? As soothing as they are for your routine, both Spotify and Pandora are nowhere close to Apple in terms of sustainability. However, between Spotify and Pandora, Spotify is more eco-friendly.

According to the report, the I.T. sector’s energy footprint occupies 7% of global electricity usage. With rising demand and increased global expansion, these companies need to become more dependent on renewable energy sources.

Apple is the most eco-friendly audio streaming service

Apple is leading the I.T. sector in energy efficiency and renewable energy dependence. Built and operated by Apple, iTunes is rapidly mushrooming across the world, with music available for streaming as well as download. Apple leads the charts of sustainable brands with a clean energy index of 83%. Apple powers almost all of its data centers with renewable sources of energy. It has also pushed several other cloud operators and I.T. data centers to enhance their reliance on sustainable power. The only problem is their recent expansion in Chicago with dependence on non-renewable energy sources.

No other technology company is as transparent as Apple in thorough and periodic reporting of their total energy consumption. Their reporting includes the energy consumption and performance index of their data centers and detailed evaluations of their renewable energy contracts and investments. Apple adopted 100% renewable commitment in 2012. Since then, every new data center has to procure 100% renewable energy before starting operation. Apple also serves to compromise for its little non-renewable energy load by adopting more renewable methods for all further projects. Their commitment to the environment is also evident in their sustainably powered new data centers in Arizona, Denmark, and Ireland. 

More about Apple’s efforts towards sustainability

Apple has put tremendous efforts in becoming energy efficient and reducing the mitigation of greenhouse gases. For example, Apple’s data center and the campus in California is entirely solar-powered. It was the result of a $1B deal with the largest solar power producer in the U.S. Their new data center in Denmark directly ejects waste heat into the local heating district and reduces other companies’ demands for fossil fuel. Many of Apple’s data centers in northern locations also take advantage of open-air cooling opportunities. 

Apple’s expansion is always in line with the local renewable energy supply. In 2016, Apple built a solar power plant in Arizona to make up for electricity it uses in the Mesa data center. The solar power plant has an output of 50MW, which is enough to power more than 12000 homes. Apple’s fast-expanding data center in North Carolina is now witnessing its third solar power project.

Apple, Facebook, and Google have joined hands in defending the existing renewable energy policies that have recently come under attack. Apple’s advocacy for climate change and clean energy is always on the rise. All the big four players – Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have supported the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

Spotify is one of the largest global music streaming services but not the most eco-friendly

Greenpeace has received no information about Spotify’s energy footprint, and the company has not committed to increasing the reliance on renewable energy sources. According to the report, Spotify has a clean energy index of 56%, which is better than that of Pandora. Spotify has not provided any information about their goals in enhancing energy efficiency. There has been no advocacy for battling climate change, unlike many other comparatively sustainable I.T. companies.

The only sustainable step undertaken by Spotify is the transition in its reliance on Amazon Web Services to Google’s Cloud Platform. Google has taken significant strides in the direction of renewable energy procurement and energy efficiency. Although Google is not as energy transparent as Apple and Facebook, it has significantly improved in comparison. Google now provides detailed data about its colocation footprint and energy footprint on a regional basis. However, Google offers insufficient data about the energy efficiency of its cloud platform. 

Google has aimed to become 100% renewably powered and to triple its renewable energy purchases by 2025. Google has actively purchased renewable energy, and their latest contracts level up their renewable energy dependence by 2.5 GW. Spotify’s reliance on Google’s data centers brings it closer to energy efficiency. But Spotify itself hasn’t advocated or spoken in favor of environment-friendly growth. is one of the least eco-friendly audio streaming service

Pandora is not an eco-friendly audio streaming service. They have zero energy transparency. They haven’t provided any information to Greenpeace about their energy footprint. According to the report, they have a 13% clean energy index – the lowest amongst Apple and Spotify. One of the largest streaming platforms in North America, Pandora, has data centers in California, Virginia, and Illinois. No data is available about their dependence on renewable sources of energy. 

Pandora has never announced any goals or commitments to enhance its dependence on renewable sources of energy. Neither has the company provided any hints or details about their energy efficiency. is the largest public radio service in the U.S. but amongst the lowest in the clean energy index

Greenpeace has not received any information about NPR’s energy footprint or commitment to renewable energy. The company has made no efforts to enhance dependence on renewable energy sources or increase their energy efficiency. Their clean energy index is below 20%, making them one of the least eco-friendly audio streaming platform. NPR has made no investments in procuring renewable energy sources. Additionally, their platform is entirely dependent on Amazon Web Services to deliver their online programs. Amazon is one of the largest I.T. companies globally, yet it is the least transparent when it comes to clean energy utilization and energy efficiency. is dependent on Amazon Web Services for the storage and processing of its data

Similar to, Soundcloud provides no information about its energy footprint or commitments toward energy efficiency. There has been no leadership for the cause of environmental welfare or the procurement of renewable energy sources. It has a clean energy index of only 17%. It has a lot more to do to become an eco-friendly audio streaming service. Moreover, the company relies heavily on Amazon Web Services, which, as mentioned above, is the least transparent and most mincing when it comes to sustainability. Amazon considerably lags behind its competitors such as Facebook, Google, and Apple in ensuring greener promises for the Earth’s welfare.

The space on the internet may have outgrown the space on Earth by now. Music will always be a part of our lives. However, we need to ensure that our soothing music does not emit smoke in the background. Choose products and platforms that promise sustainability and care for our planet. 

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