By Allison Duggan, Label Manager
Let’s face it; we have lost phenomenal stars over the past few years. From Amy Winehouse to Prince and Natalie Cole. From Chris Cornell, Scott Weiland and Chester Bennington. These artists struggled with depression, drug/alcohol addiction, a litany of baggage from their lives. They go on tour for months, back to the studio, do a crazy amount of interviews, all within a span of time that is chaotic.
We lost a lot of artists the past two years not just because of addiction. It is because the brain and body cannot handle so much stress at once. Add a mental disorder on top of that, and the pressure heightens. They result to necessitate their pain through other methods to gain control, which leads to a death sentence for many.
This is in a viewpoint of someone who works in the music industry, and not a psychologist. The reasonings behind these deaths can go deeper, the information we were allotted for these tragedies might not be the full story, etc. However, after Chester Bennington’s death, I began to think: how can us managers moderate our artists well-being?
It is simple to say to allow time off. Michael Angelakos from Passion Pit recently announced that they will take a hiatus until his mental health is under control. Not only is this admirable, but something that many
bands would not imagine to give up. Touring means a lot of money, exposure, and play-time for their music to thrive beyond the album’s release life expectancy. However Passion Pit can
afford the time off, with their successful albums and large fan-base.
But what about indie artists? Artists starting out depend on touring, interviews, constant movement in order to gain the exposure they need. How can they keep their mentality in the right direction while under such pressure? “Helmed by Sally Anne Gross and Dr George Musgrave for MusicTank at the University of Westminster and published by Help Musicians UK, the recent study, ‘Can Music Make You Sick?’, focused on the issue of mental health in the music industry. With over 2,200 respondents participating, the majority of which are between the ages of 18 and 35 (55.2 per cent male, 43.9 per cent female), this was the largest survey of its kind. ” (Harrison Williams, Mix Mag) . It is found that over 70% of artists suffer from a form of anxiety, panic attacks, and/or a more elaborate mental disorder. Moby, who has come out with own struggles with depression, has stated that “touring is an incredibly dangerous profession”.
This is not to scare you starting-out artists away, but more to know that if you feel this way, you are not alone, but should be wary of how late you stay up, how much you do in a short period of time, and to be aware of one’s well-being while working on building up an album.
As a manager, you are on the road with them. You, as a manager, need to lend an ear, lend support, and if your artist needs a day to recollect, or to cancel a few shows, the biggest thing is to not pressure, rather help find the right help for your artist.
From the great Ellie Giles:
“If the demands of being a prominent musician are greater than ever, and management companies are shouldering an increasing responsibility for their clients’ overall wellbeing and career, then it is often the manager who is the first responder if mental health deteriorates. But, as multiskilled as they need to be in 2016, managers are not qualified therapists. So how do they handle complex mental illnesses if they begin to emerge? For Ellie Giles,, who looks after Bill Ryder-Jones, the most important thing is simply to lend an ear.
‘All you need to do is listen and work out what help they need,” she says. “Great managers in any industry are there to work out what an artist or person needs and then mentor, support and advise them. Ultimately that’s what management is: it’s enabling and empowering that person.'” (Fiona McGugan, The Guardian).
Be the manager that can help their artists. Do not be blinded my money, time, nor notoriety. If your artist can push through their own barriers, then that is amazing! If they need help, it is up to you to be that safety net for them. We cannot afford more artists to lose their lives.
If you are suffering or know someone who is suffering with mental illness, depression, substance abuse, or in risk of harming themselves, please check out the links below:
And if these do not work, find a friend, an ally. You are beautiful. You are irreplaceable. Keep fighting ❤