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A new book examines the impact of the music industry on mental health

Shining light on the dark side of the music industry

  • Rory Kirkham
  • 23 September 2020
A new book examines the impact of the music industry on mental health

2020 has been a damaging year for the music industry. COVID-19 has essentially put the brakes on the industry globally, with performing artists and those working behind the scenes in festivals and nightlife experiencing shortages of work and loss of resources, with little to no government funding or assistance in many cases. In an industry regularly confronted with the reality of the impact it has on mental health and wellbeing, we are now facing the darkest days many of us have ever experienced. Despite a well-documented history of prolific suicides, the discussion regarding mental health and the music industry is often a taboo subject. This month a new book is set to hit the shelves that takes an in-depth look at the relationship between mental health and pursuing a career in the music industry.

'Can Music Make You Sick?: Measuring the Price of Musical Ambition', the book takes a detailed exploration of the UK music industry, drawing links between recording and performing artists chasing their dreams and the damaging impact this can have on their mental well being.

Penned in combination by Dr. George Musgrave, a musician and academic, and Sally Anne Gross, a music manager and University lecturer, the research and subsequent findings of their work revealed that those working in the music industry were much more likely to have their mental health negatively impacted when compared to others, three times more likely in fact. The author's hope not only that their work helps to inform and educate the masses, but also that it leads to future investigations and studies on the impacts the music industry has on the mental wellbeing of those who make their living from it.

An interesting point covered is that of musicians put everything they have into their work but oftentimes are left feeling it was undervalued or over criticized:

"The authors show how careers based on an all-consuming passion have become more insecure and devalued. Artistic merit and intimate, often painful, self-disclosures are the subject of unremitting scrutiny and data metrics."

Another topic of interest is that of the type of relationships those of us make while working in the industry, with a focus of furthering one's career over real connections:

"Personal relationships and social support networks are increasingly bound up with calculative transactions."

An interesting point being how the process and pursuit of creating music can be both positive and negative to an individual at the same time:

"By listening to how musicians understand and experience their working lives, this book proposes that whilst making music is therapeutic, making a career from music can be traumatic."

The linear notes give some further insight into the goals and recommendations the authors reached:

"Going beyond self-help strategies, they challenge the industry to make transformative structural change. Until then, the book provides an invaluable guide for anyone currently making their career in music, as well as those tasked with training and educating the next generation."

You can pre-order the book, which will be available on September 29, 2020 via Amazon

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