A mental health crisis is gripping the professional music industry, as Help Musicians, a charity dedicated to supporting musicians’ well-being, reports a surge in the utilization of its mental health service, Music Minds Matter. Approximately one-third of professional musicians in the UK are struggling with their mental health, according to the organization. Financial difficulties within the industry are believed to be a contributing factor to this crisis. A survey conducted by Help Musicians, involving 6,000 musicians, revealed that their average annual earnings amounted to around £14,000. These financial challenges, combined with the competitive nature of the industry and demanding schedules, are exacerbating mental health issues among musicians.
The testimony of Sid Goldsmith, a musician who sought help from Music Minds Matter, highlights the importance of having the necessary support. The charity funded 10 therapy sessions for Goldsmith, granting him the freedom to choose his therapist and tailor the sessions to his specific needs. These sessions proved invaluable, enabling him to develop positive coping mechanisms. Goldsmith also stressed the adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on musicians’ mental health. With venues closed and earnings drastically reduced, independent and lesser-known artists, as well as venues, suffered immensely. Goldsmith believes it is crucial to acknowledge and support the diverse niches within the industry, as they contribute significantly to our cultural landscape.
Joe Hastings, the head of Help Musicians, emphasized the necessity of respecting and fairly compensating musicians for their skills and hard work. He highlighted the industry’s intense competitiveness, with musicians frequently enduring late nights and extended periods away from home. Hastings revealed that the engagement with the charity’s services has seen a 200% increase over the past two years, underscoring the growing mental health challenges faced by musicians.
The impact of the pandemic on the music industry has been profound, with UK Music, an organization representing the commercial music industry, reporting a £2.6 billion reduction in the industry’s economic contribution in 2020, resulting in a 35% decrease in the workforce. The South West region of the UK, which boasted a music industry worth over half a billion pounds and supported thousands of jobs, was particularly hard-hit.
While the music industry enjoys global recognition and affection, it is vital to address the mental health crisis plaguing the profession. Help Musicians’ Music Minds Matter service plays a crucial role in supporting musicians’ well-being, but there is a pressing need for broader recognition of the challenges they face. Fair compensation, respect for their skills, and acknowledgement of the industry’s diverse niches are essential steps towards tackling the mental health crisis and ensuring the long-term sustainability and prosperity of the music industry.