What’s more important, myth or mental health of musicians? 9

news-case-study-expat-failingLast week The Guardian published an article from Fiona McGugan, general manager of the Music Manager’s Forum, about the mental health of musicians. The article is about the role of managers in noticing and addressing mental health problems of their artists.

“Maintaining an artist’s health is in the best interest of everyone – the label and the management as well as the artist themselves.” (Rumer Shirakbari)

Still, short-term financial interests of the manager can be in conflict with the long-term interest in the mental health of an artist. The musician has only his/her lawyer to address for really independent advise. All the other business people in the team of a musician are financial depending on the income of the musician. Who gives independent advise when it’s more personal and not about legal terms?

Becoming successful and famous gives a huge boost to the ego. It doesn’t matter much if it’s in music, politics or business. Though in (pop)music, most people still think that all problems musicians can have, will dissolve once they are famous. It’s part of the image of famous musicians. And this myths is kept alive, by musicians, press and everyone else in the music business. It’s what the business seems to thrive on.

I’m not surprised that the mental health of musicians is still a taboo. If you talk about mental health issues caused by fame, you destroy the myth. The ego-boost caused by fame, brings the personality of musicians in imbalance. The ego becomes huge while other aspects of the personality, such as intellect, emotions, body, are neglected. The imbalance encourages musicians to behave more narcissistic and look for relief in alcohol or drugs.

Many mental health issues of musicians could be prevented by spending attention to a more balanced personality. That’s what I do in coaching. But addressing the mental heath of musicians in public would destroy the myth around musicians.

What’s more important, the myth or the mental health of musicians?


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9 thoughts on “What’s more important, myth or mental health of musicians?

  • CR van Lingen

    ‘What’s more important, the myth or the mental health of musicians?’ of course the mental health! it depends on which side your standing… the receiving or caring camp. There are enough examples where wonderful successfully artists struggle with overnight fame and how this change their lives drastically and unfortunately did commit suicide. This health/caring issue should be a part of the contract signed with the receivers.

    • hildespille Post author

      It should be, of course. But there are many forces from audience and music business that keep the myths (fame as problem-solver or the suffering artist) alive.

  • Solomon Epstein

    I will never get over being baffled by the disconnect from history of our present society. “mental health problems? Have you never heard of Beethoven? Schumann? Hugo Wolf? Wagner the megalomaniac (and whether or not you like him or his music, you have to admit that, repulsive as he was, he sure got things done artistically). Scriabin? Vladimir Horowitz? Glenn Gould the claustrophobe? Great artists are often not at all like “normal” people. If all you want is a safe life package of money, PR and “celebrity, why in HELL become a musician. Music as a life choice is for the GENUINELY CREATIVELY CRAZY. If you want “normalcy”, become an accountant, for goodness sake!

    • hildespille Post author

      I’m not a musician, Solomon. And indeed, many famous musicians are ‘crazy’. Though I do think that the music industry as it works today, inflates mental health issues of musicians. And that’s something we can address.

    • Allen

      I can certainly relate to the historical examples of the eccentric and sometimes socially awkward ways of the geniuses you mention above. However, I would say that we have to be careful to assume that great artistry also requires a loss of balance with everyday life. I’m not talking about losing personality or great passion, but there’s a difference between being eccentric, and being erratic and lost as a human being. We lose too many great artists to negative influences that could be mental health issues (read Donny Hathaway’s story), then simply write it off as ‘tortured genius syndrome.’ I’d rather look for ways that we can keep these great talents around.

      • hildespille Post author

        Hi Allen,
        Thanks for your reply, I couldn’t agree more. I prefer to see great talent around! 🙂

  • Guy W. Stoker

    If a musician’s mental health is pushed to the limit or left unchecked then all parties will lose out because the work created will either stop or will be substandard.

    • hildespille Post author

      Some people in the music business might go for the short term money instead of the long term interest in mental health of musicians. You see that in politics too.

  • Tony Ginn

    Let’s start with the dream, idea, lyrics and the musical arrangements. Every musician should copyright their individual works first. I protect myself with ASCAP and an Entertainment Law Attorney in the case that someone tries to steal my music. I have had many musicians that died because of not addressing their health conditions and committing suicide. I attribute this to a bipolar condition as it has has applied to many of my Actor Colleagues who have committed suicide by not having a psychiatrist to issue the proper medication and quarterly sessions to address the stress and monitor their medications.So, the bottom line incorporations all of the comments thus far in this ongoing discussion. YOLO!