Billie Eilish doesn’t want to be clickbaited over those vinyl comments

Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish
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Billie Eilish isn’t seeing eye to eye with the media lately. Last year, she came out in a Variety profile and then accused the same outlet of outing her after a red-carpet follow-up question. In that instance, it wasn’t so much that Variety really “[outed her] on a red carpet at 11 am” (since she’d already made a statement on her sexuality) and seemed more that she didn’t want to discuss her sexuality at that time, in that context. Which: fair! But count that as strike number one against the media, because over the weekend she had good cause to complain once again over some comments that, from her perspective, were distorted online.

When Eilish called out wasteful practices in the music industry concerning vinyl last week, many, many outlets ran with the headline Billie Eilish Shades Taylor Swift! The younger singer obviously didn’t call out Swift by name, but she’s the first artist everyone thought of when Eilish criticized “some of the biggest artists in the world making f–king [sic] 40 different vinyl packages that have a different unique thing just to get you to keep buying more.” Swift didn’t invent the variant vinyl, but as the biggest seller of physical media in the music industry today, she’s naturally the first and biggest example of the phenomenon Eilish was critiquing.

But Eilish was not trying to start a stan war. She was just trying to talk about sustainability, and she specifically noted in her Billboard interview that “It’s all your favorite artists doing that sh-t [sic].” As she put it on her Instagram Story (via Variety):

“It would be so awesome if people would stop putting words into my mouth and actually read what I said in that Billboard article. I wasn’t singling anyone out, these are industry-wide systemic issues ... When it comes to variants, so many artists release them—including ME! Which I clearly state in the article. The climate crisis is now and it’s about all of us being part of the problem and trying to do better. Sheesh.”

The truth is, it’s clear from her business practices that Swift does “care that much about your numbers” and “care that much about making money,” as Eilish put it, that sustainability practices might fall to the wayside. On the one hand, with the decline of physical media, Swift’s savvy business model and overwhelming popularity has revived an ailing industry, and that is a good thing. However, as an industry leader, she could no doubt move the needle in making her merchandise more sustainable.

Eilish is an example of a superstar making sustainability a priority from early on in her relatively short career; as Billboard pointed out, she partnered with climate nonprofit REVERB to reduce the environmental footprint of touring. The organization has worked with a number of artists to encourage more sustainable practices, including Lorde, who also made a sustainability statement by releasing eco-conscious merch and no CDs at all for her third album Solar Power.

In other words, there are ways that big stars can actively manage their environmental impacts—something that would go a long way for Swift, even just from a public relations standpoint. (A frequent climate-based criticism of the Grammy winner is her use of a private jet.) But, as Eilish and her mother Maggie Baird pointed out in the Billboard profile, this issue is systemic. Baird even criticized Billboard itself for playing into the problem: “Because if Billboard, to be honest, is going to not have limits… I would love to see limits, like no more than four colors” of variant vinyls, Baird proposed. “Or some kind of rules, because you can’t fault an artist for playing the No. 1 game.” Change the game, and the players will fall in line. Seems as good a solution as any, at least to start.