Being a musician for a living can seem like an exciting opportunity to spend your life doing something you love. You can have the chance to travel, meet new people, and savour some amazing shared experiences that are hard to rival.
However, it’s also an industry that can be mentally challenging, and finding things hard is nothing to be ashamed of – it doesn’t mean that you love your art any less. Being aware of potential issues can help musicians keep an eye on how they’re feeling, and seek support when they need it. Here, we cover a few common challenges in the music industry you might experience.
Lack of routine
Being a musician often means taking contract jobs for a tour, or managing your gig bookings yourself. Whilst there’s excitement in every day being different, it can make it hard to feel like you have any consistency or routine. Even for those of us who aren’t daunted by change, not knowing what you’re doing next month can make it hard to make plans with friends, and therefore it can feel like work becomes your whole life.
Late night working is also common, but most ‘life admin’ tasks like sorting bills or going to the dentist need to be done in the day, meaning that you might struggle to get enough rest. Try to be smart with your time, and try to stay consistent with the amount of sleep you get, by booking appointments in the time when you’d want to be awake, and leaving plenty of time for leisure and rest.
Competition and lack of job security
The music industry can make you feel like you always need to be at your best, or else risk losing your job to another person. But this intense pressure can lead to feelings of anxiety. Musicians also tend to work on contracts, rather than a permanent placement, so there’s often plenty of auditions to attend in order to secure the next job which can amplify the desire to be perfect.
Employers can help here – in fact, 81% of people in this industry study said they wanted their employer to help when it comes to mental health. By paying fair wages, and paying on time, musicians are able to budget more effectively, and can take breaks when finances allow.
Part of performing in front of others means being open to feedback. The rise of social media can lead to a wider sharing of your work, and the creation of a supportive community. However, it can also mean it’s much easier to get caught in a cycle of checking comments and shares of your performances at all times of the day.
Create clear expectations on your accounts about guidelines for commenting, or turn comments off if you find it too difficult to manage. You should also make sure you spend time off your phone, and try to remember that for every person out there who doesn’t like what you’re creating, there will be so many that do. Live performances can be a great way to remind yourself of your love of the craft, so invite some supportive friends and family if you need to see a friendly face in the crowd.
You can access the Mental Health Guide for Musicians here https://www.functioncentral.co.uk/mental-health/
About the Author: Katie Marshall
A writer by day and singer by night, I’m keen to play my part in creating a healthier industry. I hope that by sharing information musicians can find a way to do the job they love, without the expense of their mental health.