I am sure you have heard the joke about the man with the carnival whose job it was to clean up the smelly bucket loads of prolific elephant dung. A passerby, who saw him hip-deep in the excrement, asked, “My good man, how can you put up with such demeaning conditions? Haven’t you ever thought about another line of work?” To which the carnival worker replied, “What—and give up show business?”
I have been in this business since the sixties and worked about every position – from musician to tour manager, I sometime feel like I have seen it all. There is no doubt it takes a special type of person to fit into this lifestyle. I am not sure what that is saying about me and all my comrades
I am sure every field has its own share of anxiety and depression, but I think it is more intense in the music industry and much easier to disguise with all the hype that goes with it, until something drastic takes place like a breakdown or a suicide.
I am crediting Hilde Spille of Music Think Tank for the following:
Working in the music business can make you depressed! That’s the conclusion of a recent online study in the UK with more than 2200 participants: musicians and people working in the music business. More than 70% of the participants recorded to have suffered from panic attacks or high levels of anxiety, almost as many people have recorded to have suffered from depression. Not many musicians dare to talk about it. Not many agents or managers either, by the way.
Compared to 20% of the UK population suffering from depression ad 16% from anxiety, these figures are shocking. Why do depressed and anxious people choose for the music business? Or is the music business that makes us depressed and anxious? The research explains why it’s the music business that makes us depressed and anxious.
Most people in the music business work as small entrepreneurs. For that it doesn’t matter if you are an artist, a manager or an agent. Most small entrepreneurs are in continuous stress of making ends meet. That’s where anxiety starts. Working hours in weekends and in the evening make it very difficult to maintain a social life. The music business is always changing, you can’t plan 5 or 10 years ahead. You have to be flexible and can’t plan your own time. And while you manage to keep your head high in these harsh conditions, friends and family don’t consider your work as ‘real work’. I’m not even talking about the physical load of working in the music business.
The macho culture in the music business makes it for women even worse. I don’t know a women who hasn’t experienced sexist remarks or sexual harassment. Finding a balance between work and family is pretty hard too, there is no kindergarten open at night.
What still makes it worth while to work in the music business, is the passion you have for music. You feel privileged to be able to follow your passion. The same passion makes it difficult to create a healthy distance to the subject of your work. – end of Hilde article
I am always careful of anyone who has all the answers, but there is something about knowing your calling and not taking yourself too seriously. Don’t forget who is driving the bus.