Lorde Shifts to Biodegradable, CD-Less Album Launch

The pop star says she’s spent a lot of time reimagining how her music impacts the natural world.

Singer-songwriter Lorde performs on stage during day 1 of iHeartRadio Beach Ball at PNE Amphitheatre on September 3, 2017 in Vancouver, Canada.

Andrew Chin/Getty Images

Lorde, the New Zealand singer-songwriter best known in the U.S. for her hit “Royals,” is embedding a more sustainable approach in the release of her upcoming third studio album. 

Titled “Solar Power,” after Lorde’s new eponymous single, the album will not be released on CD, but will instead be offered in a biodegradable “Music Box” with handwritten notes, photos, and a download card. The latter will give fans access to the entire 12-track album online, as well as some other yet-to-be-revealed surprises. 

“I actually think what’s even cooler about this product is that it speaks to the nature of the modern album as a shifting thing,” she wrote in an email exchange with Billboard. “When you buy the Music Box, you get access to all kinds of interesting bits over the course of the album cycle — stuff like exclusive merch designs, extra mailing list updates, bonus tracks, behind-the-scenes photos, and other stuff. And because of the digital nature, I can add to the world of the album all the time, without anyone having to go back to a store.”

While Lorde shared that she will eventually release an LP of “Solar Power,” she believes the collectible nature of the product will limit its disposable impact compared to a less-coveted CD nestled in plastic and plastic wrap. 

Finding inspiration while on tour

Lorde says the inspiration behind making her new release more eco-friendly came from experiencing the waste and footprint of her last album cycle and international tour. 

“I’m a pop star, and I drive this massive machine that takes resources and spits out emissions — I'm under no illusion about that,” she added. “But in my personal life, of course, I started to tune into different things. Coming off tour I was like, ‘I just saw so much wasted food, everywhere we went, people were just wasting food.’ And I made this personal, private commitment to never waste any food, and [now] I really don't, I have a compost and I eat everything that I buy.”

Her first task was studying the supply of the merchandise sold at her concerts. To reduce waste and promote more ethical production, Lorde partnered with Everybody.World. The sustainable clothing brand creates garments using only 100% recycled cotton without “exploiting the planet or people.” In a tweet to fans last week, Lorde says her merchandise will cost more at concerts, but the price increase reflects her new commitment to reducing the environmental impact of her music. 

“These pieces are made from 100% recycled U.S. grown cotton. Some are even made from reclaimed manufacturing waste,” she wrote. “Repurposing waste products uses less energy and water. Your garment is a bit better for the planet than most ‘new’ stuff, and that’s what you’re paying extra for.”

Citing inspiration from other artists who have made headway in advancing sustainability in music tours—in particular, Coldplay, who recently resumed touring after partnering with BMW on all-electric transportation—Lorde says there’s still much that can be done to reduce her climate impact. For now, she admits she’s just trying to do the best she can while navigating the world of being an international music icon. 

“The album is a celebration of the natural world, an attempt at immortalizing the deep, transcendent feelings I have when I’m outdoors,” she said in a statement. “In times of heartache, grief, deep love, or confusion, I look to the natural world for answers. I’ve learned to breathe out, and tune in. This is what came through.”