Sounds Right: Transforming Passion for Music Into Impact for Nature

Behind the Scenes of an Innovative New Campaign

Rare is a launch partner of Sounds Right, a new global music initiative launched by the Museum for the United Nations - UN Live. Through the initiative, music fans can meaningfully help protect our planet simply by listening to the sounds of nature. Sounds Right aims to spark a global conversation about the value of nature and support millions of music fans in taking meaningful action to protect our planet.
April 29, 2024

We sat down with Brooke Betts of Rare’s Climate Culture program to learn more about the partnership and how Rare’s research and insights informed the campaign.

Brooke Betts at Sounds Right Launch
Brooke Betts (bottom right) captures the moment that Sounds Right launched in New York.

For those who don’t know, what is Sounds Right?

Sounds Right is a music initiative that enables NATURE to generate conservation funding from her own sounds. So, when artists like Anuv Jain, or, Brian Eno and David Bowie use nature sounds in their music tracks, there is now a mechanism in place so that the royalties (royalties that any other human artist would receive for their contribution to a collaborative work) can now go to NATURE for her own conservation.

Rare is proud to be among a very brilliant list of founding partners of Sounds Right. Our mission is to inspire change so that people and nature thrive, and nothing inspires us more than music.

That’s very cool; what was Rare’s role in bringing this campaign to life?

Each of the project partners brought specific skills to the table. Rare has expertise in applying the science of human behavior to campaigns that inspire action and in measuring the effectiveness of campaigns and interventions.

One of the core principles of our work is to share what we learn freely. When we learned about the initiative, we knew we had relevant experience and insights to share, given that we had done extensive research and experimentation to make nature-based carbon projects more accessible and engaging for consumer audiences.

Go listen and become a fan of NATURE

What are those elements, and how does Sounds Right use them?

First, Sounds Right focuses on a universally sensible objective — nature conservation. People recognize that conservation benefits ecosystems, plant and animal species, human communities, and climate. It’s a cause that all kinds of people can get behind.

Sounds Right is smart in focusing on the clear objective of conservation. The initiative isn’t getting overly bogged down in the math of carbon sequestration schemes that sometimes miss the mark and always feel onerous to understand. It focuses on a clear objective – conserving nature.

Sounds Right created an artist profile for “NATURE” on Spotify and other streaming platforms; what does that unlock?

Sounds Right frames the initiative around NATURE, the greatest artist ever. This (brilliant) personification of nature creates an “aha moment” that NATURE has rights – including the same royalties that a human artist would receive for the value she provides. The framing is intuitive and emotional – so our brains react quickly from the heart, without overthinking it. It unlocks the heart, and reminds us what we love – not the math and science of climate change.

In all of Rare’s testing around carbon offsets, we found an approach similar to this, with artists opening up a pathway to inspiration, was the most promising.

The campaign encourages Spotify listeners to donate; how does it ensure the impact of those donations and the royalties earned by NATURE?

With partners like UN Live, Spotify, and big-name artists involved, Sounds Right created an Expert Advisory Panel with world-leading biologists, environmental activists, Indigenous People’s representatives, and experts in conservation funding to direct funds raised to rights-based nature conservation and restoration projects in the world’s most precious and precarious ecosystems in key biodiversity areas.

Via the Sounds Right initiative, 100% of fan donations go to biodiversity conservation and restoration projects, along with NATURE’s portion (at least 50%) of royalties from musicians recordings that ‘Feat. NATURE’.

All of that fits with what Rare learned in our research and pilot testing of various ideas to motivate donations to nature-based climate solutions.

First, consumer audiences want the brands they love to do the work for them. For example, they would rather fly with an airline that already buys carbon offsets for their flight rather than ask them to foot the bill at check-out. In this case, the consumer sees that Spotify, musicians, and UN Live have already donated for them. Consumers trust they’ve done their homework to direct the funds to qualified nature conservation work, so they feel more confident adding on their own donation if they’re motivated to do so.

What other insights about human behavior does Sounds Right use?

A key one is the concept of “social pressure”.  That may sound serious, but it essentially means that, as humans, we respond to the social cues we pick up from people we like, admire, care about, etc. Those might be people we know in our everyday lives, or people we admire in the wider culture, such as musicians.

When the Rare team designed our ideal interventions, they all incorporated a strong sense of social pressure – whether through musicians or the neighbor kid’s fundraising efforts. Sounds Right uses the social pressure of our parasocial relationships with musicians we love to highlight the plight of NATURE.

Using the added visibility of ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ of NATURE, Sounds Right incorporates social cues that tell us this popular initiative deserves our attention and support. In short, people see the campaign and think, “It’s the right thing to do because I see most people seem to be supporting it.”

How does this project fit into Rare’s Climate Culture program?

Climate Culture is all about making actions that help climate and nature become the new norm. We do a lot of research ourselves, but one major pathway to scale is through bringing our research and insights to partners to reach huge consumer audiences. We already work with the entertainment industry and social media creators. Sounds Right bridges social media and entertainment, so it was an ideal match.

Last question, what’s your favorite Sounds Right song?

Oh, that’s a tough one. I make it a habit to listen to the Sounds Right Playlist on the regular, kind of like we listened to a new album in the olden days. And while my early favorite was the Bowie remix “Get Real,” I’m starting to fall in love with many of the artists’ tracks, like OH WAH by Blinky Bill or Pilgrim by MØ. And, after seeing Aurora live at the launch event, she’s easy to fall in love with.

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