Opinion: Label funded therapy

Should major record labels provide therapy funding for their artists (and staff?)

The highs and lows of the music industry

The music industry is a high-pressure environment. Having worked in various roles within this sector, including as a mental health and addiction specialist, I’ve seen its positive and negative aspects and, though the industry is rich in creativity, it also has significant stress and uncertainty.

Musicians and industry professionals often face high levels of stress due to tight schedules and the pressure to continuously perform. These challenges are exacerbated by the unpredictable nature of the industry and occasional disagreements with colleagues or bandmates.

The industry’s culture, marked by irregular hours and tolerance towards substance use, can intensify these pressures. This is particularly true for individuals predisposed to addiction or mental health issues, making the industry even more challenging for them.

Mental health: the hidden struggle

It’s essential to acknowledge that the stressors inherent to the music industry can lead to mental health and addiction issues. The competitive nature, constant scrutiny, and lifestyle demands can exacerbate these problems. Common issues include anxiety, depression, substance misuse, and burnout, often resulting from performance pressures, public expectations, long hours, and unstable schedules. The isolation of touring and separation from support networks can also negatively impact mental wellbeing.

Striking the right chord: industry support

Proactive measures from all industry stakeholders are needed to address these challenges. This includes ergonomic practices, mental health support services, work-life balance promotion, adequate training, and the creation of supportive environments prioritising wellbeing. As a Co-Founder of the amazing charity Music Support, I have seen a lot of much-needed change in the music industry over the last ten years, and far more services are available free at the point of use – and most major record labels have a permanent member of staff dedicated to overall employee wellbeing, as well as arrangements with outside therapeutic services when needed.

A call to action: James Blake’s perspective

Recently, James Blake’s social media post reignited the discussion on mental health in the music industry. He argued that major record labels, reaping huge profits from artists’ work, should provide therapy to help them cope with associated mental health challenges.

If artists are the lifeblood of the music industry, isn't it the labels’ responsibility to ensure their wellbeing?

The labels’ duty: ensuring artists’ wellbeing

Blake’s point is worth considering. Artists often face intense scrutiny and rejection, and struggle to balance their personal lives with career demands, contributing to mental health problems. If artists are the lifeblood of the music industry, he argues, isn't it the labels’ responsibility to ensure their wellbeing? Providing access to independent therapy could boost productivity, reduce stigma, and show a commitment to creating a healthier environment. However, therapy isn’t the sole solution. There are many factors contributing to mental health problems in the music industry, but this could be a step in the right direction.

Indirect support: charitable contributions

It’s worth noting that Music Support receives funding from the BRIT Trust, which is the charity run by the BPI, which is the membership association for record labels. So very indirectly, BPI members are funding access to therapy for their staff and artists – as Music Support is open to anyone from the music industry. Other charities such as Help Musicians, and organisations like Music Industry Therapists and Coaches, also provide specialist help.

attune: tailored support services

At attune we offer a wide range of tailored services designed to support mental health and overall wellbeing for talent and the teams and organisations around them. We provide various therapeutic services, including cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, and dialectical behaviour therapy. These services are available for all, but attune also offers specialised programs for artists and musicians, including our Conscious Touring Programme that embeds prevention and positive coping strategies into the foundations of the tour.

Recognising the unique challenges that musicians face, our programs provide targeted support to help them navigate the pressures of their industry.

Ultimately, mental health in record labels, and the music industry more generally, is a work in progress. But ‘progress’ is the keyword here, and while there’s progress, there’s hope.

Your thoughts?

Please share your thoughts. Should record labels be required to fund therapy for their artists?

Are you part of a label that already does this?

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