Working in the music business can make you depressed! That’s the conclusion of a recent online study in the UK with more than 2200 participants: musicians and people working in the music business. More than 70% of the participants recorded to have suffered from panic attacks or high levels of anxiety, almost as many people have recorded to have suffered from depression. Not many musicians dare to talk about it. Not many agents or managers either, by the way.
Compared to 20% of the UK population suffering from depression ad 16% from anxiety, these figures are shocking. Why do depressed and anxious people choose for the music business? Or is the the music business that makes us depressed and anxious? The research explains why it’s the music business that makes us depressed and anxious.
Most people in the music business work as small entrepreneurs. For that it doesn’t matter if you are an artist, a manager or an agent. Most small entrepreneurs are in continuous stress of making ends meet. That’s where anxiety starts. Working hours in weekends and in the evening make it very difficult to maintain a social life. The music business is always changing, you can’t plan 5 or 10 years ahead. You have to be flexible and can’t plan your own time. And while you manage to keep your head high in these harsh conditions, friends and family don’t consider your work as ‘real work’. I’m not even talking about the physical load of working in the music business.
The macho culture in the music business makes it for women even worse. I don’t know a women who hasn’t experienced sexist remarks or sexual harassment. Finding a balance between work and family is pretty hard too, there is no kindergarten open at night.
What still makes it worth while to work in the music business, is the passion you have for music. You feel privileged to be able to follow your passion. The same passion makes it difficult to create a healthy distance to the subject of your work.
The MusicManagersForum-UK and Music Support have published a paper last month: “Music Managers Guide to Mental Health“. Depression and anxiety are just some of the subjects they shine a light on. They show you symptoms of depression and anxiety and offer advice to what you can do when recognizing the symptoms in yourself or in people around you.
If you suffer from anxiety or depression, they advice in short:
- embrace routine
- write down your moods on a daily basis
- eat healthy and regularly
- cut down on alcohol
The research, the guide and most organizations that help musicians are for the UK only. It’s important to spread the word around the globe. As psychologist with 22 years of experience in the international live music business, I’m happy to accompany you in taking care of your mental health.