In our latest guest blog, Jack Williamson looks at mental health and the music industry.

The views in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the BPI.

In our latest guest blog, Jack Williamson looks at mental health and the music industry.

The views in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the BPI.

Since the inception of the modern music industry in the early 1930’s and even before then, music has been seen as a great source of entertainment, inclusivity, relatability, enjoyment and release (therapeutic and otherwise) for both artists and listeners alike. However, through the creation of some of these most beloved and best-selling music releases, it can also come from some of the most dark and painful of places.  

These musical masterpieces can; at times, help to highlight or come at the sacrifice of the well-being and mental health of our beloved artists and over the decades we have seen far too many artists in our music community lose their lives to suicide and addiction, from Kurt Cobain to Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley to Prince and so on.

In more recent times, through the lenses of the paparazzi we have even had a front row seat to the battles that these artists face, like Britney Spears with her mental health struggles through to Amy Winehouse with her well-publicised difficulties.

Now over the past few years, the stigma surrounding mental health issues in the eyes of the public has finally started to shift and through more open awareness of these issues, more and more artists are now speaking out about their own personal battles and diagnosis’s.  

From artists’ like Adele and Zayn Malik who have been vocal about their battles with anxiety to artists’ like Mariah Carey who just last month finally felt comfortable after 17 years, opening up about her bi-polar disorder, these global superstars are helping to bring to the forefront the very real issue we have to address about supporting the mental health and well-being of not only our artists but the music industry as a whole. 

Through the highlighting of these issues by some of the biggest artists in the music industry, we have seen a growth in support and services provided to our artists, through the charitable efforts of Help Musicians UK, Music Support, which is a very encouraging sign that our industry is making pro-active steps in the right direction, but this isn’t something that just affects artists.

For this problem isn’t just resigned to music artists but the entire music industry. A recent study commissioned by the charity Help Musicians UK* of over 2,000 music industry individuals ranging from artists to managers, staff at labels, publishers, booking agencies, promoters etc, showed that over two thirds of those surveyed had suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and depression with over half of those surveyed feeling that there were gaps in the provisions of services to support those struggling with these issues.

In an industry, where we offer media training to an artist when they sign a record deal but not the knowledge, tools and techniques to prepare them for the life changing journey they are about to embark on, all the way through to where we expect employees across the whole industry to work unethically long hours continuously over long periods of time and continue to work at high productivity levels without burning out, whilst we have taken many a positive step to help support the mental health and well-being of our artists and industry, more needs to be done collectively by the whole industry, to make a lasting positive change to improve the mental health and well-being of others and provide these people with the support and services they need.

With Mental Health Awareness week approaching on Monday 14th May, could 2018 finally be the year that the tides turn and all this talk of improving mental health and well-being across the whole industry, as opposed to just segments turn into action?

If you are interested in joining my efforts alongside the MMF, UK Music, Help Musicians UK, the BPI, Music Support and more to implement positive and long lasting change to the mental health and well-being in the music industry, then please contact me at [email protected] to find out more about our efforts and initiatives.

 * Study conducted by George Musgrave and Sally Grosse of Westminster University alongside Music Tanks Jonathan Robinson