Where Do You Turn When the Music Industry Skews Your Mental Health?

No Comments 5 August 2017

Where Do You Turn When the Music Industry Skews Your Mental Health?

Working in the music industry is crazy. You get to watch bands, drink beer for free, go to festivals and parties, sleep in fancy hotels, and spend a lot of time backstage. And you get paid for all of it. But having worked as a press promoter for years, I started getting burnt out at the beginning of the year. I quickly discovered that there’s little dialogue about mental health in the industry.

Every profession features people who complain of becoming burnt out. According to the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics, one out of seven employees is involved in a formal complaint about their workload. Compared to other industries, the music industry is unique in some aspects—the line between your personal life and your work is scarcely there, for a start. Your office is often located on festival grounds, inside a music venue, or on a tour bus, which also means the bar is never far away. It makes your work fun, interesting, and dynamic, but it can also lead to an excess of incentives.

By: Lisa Gritter

I collapsed this year. Literally. It was a combination of causes and reasons that led me to this point: The heavy workload, the urge to prove myself, and—on top of all that—a particularly nasty experience with gossiping, power games, and adult bullying within the industry. In hindsight, it was no surprise: There were earlier moments where I’d thought I couldn’t handle it anymore, but when I actually collapsed, it was extremely frustrating.

One night, I woke up crying so hard that my shoulders were shaking. It felt like I was under a tremendous rock and I couldn’t escape. I was afraid that I’d have a heart attack, so I called my mother and my general practitioner. The diagnosis was swift—I was burnt out. After being absent from theoffice for a week, I decided to stop all my projects due to health issues. It was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do. After studying music management, cultivating twelve years of experience in the industry, and working hard on my own business for the last three years, I put everything at stake.

It was obvious that I needed to stop and step back from everything, but at that moment it only plunged me deeper into depression. Fortunately, my peers were more understanding than I’d expected. I received lots of private messages of support and love from my colleagues. It seemed that people were able to empathize with my situation because many of them had experienced the same symptoms as me, more or less.

My Facebook timeline is made up of hardworking colleagues who do great things. Their victories are shared, of course: A sold-out headlining show, an album gone platinum, a radio hit, successful foreign tours, promotion, a fixed contract, a trillion club gigs, a positive review of a new record, endless views on YouTube. I also shared my work successes with the rest of the world, but when your mental health feels askew, this constant deluge of information can be paralyzing. There’s always someone who does it better than you. If you’re representing a band and they sell out some shows, someone else will sell out an entire club tour. For every four-star review you get, someone else will have ten five-star ones.

Frank Kimenai, founder of the successful Amsterdam-based agency Lexicon Bookings, can relate to this. “The root of this [tendency to compare] lies [in] how artists are introduced into the market. Nothing ever goes wrong; bad news doesn’t exist,” he says. “The moment my mental health [started to decline], I started looking at other [industry colleagues], whereas I would normally focus on my own strengths. It makes you set unrealistic goals that you can never reach, which makes you feel even worse. It’s a downwards spiral in our industry, and it’s very hard to escape from.”

Read More: https://noisey.vice.com/en_us/article/ywg9em/where-do-you-turn-when-the-music-industry-skews-your-mental-health

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