Why Isn’t the Music Industry Doing More for the Mental Health of Musicians?

I’ve posted about the connection between creativity and mental health before (here’s an example) because I think it’s something of which we need to be aware. We must also realize that some of the most creative people are those at the greatest risk of mental illness.  The Fader picks up the thread.

Around Christmas last year, noise-pop DIY band Joanna Gruesome were on the verge of a career breakthrough. Following their acclaimed debut,Weird Sister, the Welsh five-piece had just been offered an exhaustive U.S. tour. They were delighted: as musicians in the digital age, in which torrents and streams have radically devalued recordings, this is where the money comes from, and frantic gigging is now a universal requisite for mid-level bands expecting to eat. But while four-fifths of Joanna Gruesome were itching to hit the road, singer Alanna McArdle was stalling. After a recent suicide attempt, she was dreading touring. McArdle confided in Fortuna Pop label head Sean Price, who gave a reassuring pep talk: your health comes first, this tour is optional, and I’m thrilled to release your records anyway. “I don’t know if she heard that clearly enough,” Price says today, sighing down the phoneline, “because she went out [on tour] a few weeks later.” It was to be her last tour with the band; citing her mental health, she left Joanna Gruesome shortly after coming home in March.

In 2015, the complications of life on the road are more visible than ever. Pinballing adrenaline, erratic income, performance anxiety, and disturbed sleep routines are just a few hazards of touring recently highlighted by artists ranging from Chicago blues singer Willis Earl Beal to Massachusetts indie outfit Passion Pit. In October, London-based dubstep pioneer Benga tweeted that he’d been sectioned in 2014 as a result of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, blaming a culture of excessive gigging, drug use, and industry negligence. Add to that the absence of centralized support systems, and the tour grind becomes, as punk band Perfect Pussy’s Meredith Graves told The Guardian this June, “a recipe for a breakdown.”

Continue reading. Again, this is important stuff.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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