Mental Health in the Music Industry

Today is World Mental Health Day and prompted by our attendance at a recent Skiddle event we wanted to put a spotlight on the mental health of music promoters. Working in music promotion is tough, and being behind-the-scenes means the challenges promoters face can often be unnoticed, or overshadowed by the struggles of artists more widely recognised in the public realm. Additionally, due to the lack of visibility there can be a lack of support.

Luckily this is beginning to change, and the Skiddle Mental Health in the Music Industry Survey is taking an important step to open the dialogue around mental health. The startling statistics from the survey are reflective of the pressures that promoters face. With 80% of music promoters suffering from constant levels of stress anxiety and depression, and 65% frequently feeling an ‘intense and unmanageable’ level of pressure.

Following the survey, Skiddle conducted a panel discussion at The Queen of Hoxton, London to further explore the issues. They invited BAPAM, Help Musicians UK, promoters from Lock N Load and The Cause Tottenham, and Matt Cantor of the Freestylers to contribute. The panel provided a safe space for the discussion of mental health in the industry through inviting attendees to listen or contribute.

It was interesting to hear from all in attendance about their experiences of mental health in the music promotions industry. Working closely with promoters we are aware of some of the stresses they face. Especially the anxiety in paying large sums of money up front to secure artists for a show, as well as the dependency on ticket sales generate a profit. However, we aren’t so conscious of the reported feelings of loneliness and disconnect towards audiences when shows do generate profit. Nor were we aware of the frequency or level of verbal abuse that nearly 30% of promoters reported.

Undoubtedly there are significant challenges, and it is worrying that 42% of promoters report that a lack of support is what bothers them most about the industry. However, there are resources available and it is our duty to promote them. The free and confidential 24 hour helpline Music Minds Matter set up by Help Musicians UK is open to all in the music industry. Additionally the charity off emotional support, counselling, advice and information, guidance for other services debt and legal advice as well as access to Help Musicians UK grants. The BAPAM also offers specialist health support to performing artists including free confidential health assessment clinics, a directory of practitioners experienced in working with people in the music industry and health resources to encourage a positive work life balance.

To help music promoters and others in the music industry we must continue this discussion openly, change the culture and ultimately work to create an environment that allows people to be healthy. Although the music promotions industry is high-pressure it is still possible to work and continue to develop within it whilst still being healthy and happy.