• Music Minds Matter poster
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Mental Health concerns in the Music Industry - what's going on?

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 11:00
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“If 2016 has been an important year in seeing ever more public figures speak out about their own mental health struggles, the next step for the industry will be to turn that open dialogue into concrete change”  Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 1

Mental health awareness in the Music Industry is a hotly debated subject at the moment. High profile suicides and celebrities coming forward to openly discuss their mental health concerns, has led to a huge awareness of the depth of the problem. Help Musicians UK, having completed  the world’s largest known academic study into music and mental health last year, pledged to create a  ‘Music Industry Mental Health Taskforce’, to lead the drive for change across the industry as well as launching a landmark 24/7 mental health service ‘Music Minds Matter’ for anyone working in the music industry, by December 2017.

The data from the research suggests that people working in the music industry are three times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than the general public.

The report: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5981ffde914e6bc993575278/t/59cd0c5f46c3c43c96190d82/1506610315886/CMMYS_WEB.pdf

The key insights and recommendations from the report are:

  • Money worries

  • Poor working conditions

  • Relationship challenges

  • Sexual abuse/bullying/discrimination


  • Education – Discussion of mental health awareness should be embedded in curriculum in music education courses and wider discussion should be stimulated in the music industry with working musicians.

  • A code of best practice – Allied to a commitment of kindness and tolerance, to act as voluntary demonstration of an organisation’s awareness of mental health issues in the music industry and an understanding of the challenges faced by creative workers.

  • A mental health support service for music community – professional mental health services that are affordable and accessible.

Music Minds Matter poster

The reports and discussions do not really inspire a healthy picture of working in the Music Industry and at times, makes it sound like if you work in the industry, you will end up suffering from a mental health condition. In an industry that is already well renowned as being hard to access and with ‘romantic’ ideas of the ‘tortured artist’ through myths such as the ‘27 club’ , we need to consider how this impacts us and our current and future career aspirations.

So, what does this actually mean for us as students, tutors, educators and people working or wanting to work in the music industry?

There are a couple of these areas that we have room to explore very briefly in this blog:

Money Worries:

Upset girl


Financial security and musician rarely appear in the same sentence.

  • Yes, your income will most likely be irregular and may come from many different sources. You must be prepared and learn how to budget;

  • Understand and explore all options for making money from your music;

  • Portfolio based career - you will more than likely earn money from a few different sources. Grow your skill set and explore all avenues;

  • Be clear on funding opportunities and grants and how to access financial support;

  • Equipment costs can be a stressful and sometimes an unexpected cost. When budgeting, consider your needs and what may come up in the future - updated software, equipment maintenance and repair etc;

  • As educators, we must ensure our students are equipped with the right skills to prepare them fully for employment.

Poor working conditions

  • Not a 9 to 5 job. At times you will have irregular, long and unsociable working hours which can be hard - but this is the nature of the Music Industry. Be prepared.

  • You will need stamina - physical fitness and mental fitness - the routine can be hard, so exercise when possible, and take time-out when possible.

  • Healthy eating and nutrition - not always possible to access healthy food, so you must eat healthily when possible.

  • Drugs and Alcohol - be aware of the harm and dangers and where to get help if needed.

Relationship challenges

  • Your working hours compared to your partner/friends’ working hours many not be the same, but it is important to maintain relationships and have people around you.

  • It is very easy to feel isolated in this industry, but it is important to know that you are not alone and there is a strong music community - know how to access it. Social Media can help with this.


Social media apps

Social Media

There is also an increasing amount of research on the negative effects of social media and some studies have claimed how prolonged use of social media can be linked to depression, anxiety and self esteem/body confidence issues. So it is especially interesting that the research completed by Help Musicians UK did not include any  specific questions relating to musicians engagement in social media - especially considering how vital a role social media plays in today's Music Industry.

Ethics also have an important role to play, and consideration must be given to areas such as privacy of data, informed consent, anonymity and risk of harm.  These concerns are especially relevant to the Music Industry, where a social media presence is an essential part of marketing and promotion for music.

We will be exploring all of these areas in more detail in further blogs and through our ‘day in the life’ interviews -  further info to follow.

Further links:

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Pearson


Trained in dance, drama and music Fiona Ross has been working in the creative arts Industry for many years with her first professional job at the age of two. Currently working in the jazz industry, she has released four critically acclaimed albums in the past three years and performed in London’s top jazz venues. Fiona is also a freelance journalist for three major jazz publications and passionate advocate for mental health promotion and is a patron for the mental health organisation Insomniac Club.

She is involved in teaching, leadership and arrangement in education and was Head of British Academy of New Music, London, for nearly nine years (Ed Sheeran, Rita Ora, Jess Glynne etc)


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