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New Initiative Awards Grants to Combat Mental Illness in the Music Industry

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Digital distribution service Record Union has donated $30,000 to three projects aimed at boosting prevention, research and awareness as part of their 73 Percent Initiative.

The Swedish-based digital distribution platform Record Union has awarded a total of $30,000 to three projects aimed at preventing or treating mental illness among musicians, the organization announced Tuesday (July 9).   

The projects were selected as part of Record Union’s 73 Percent Initiative, named after the organization's recent web survey of 1,489 independent musicians that found nearly three-quarters of them suffered from symptoms of mental illness.

“We’ve met so many impressive people with great projects through The 73 Percent initiative and we’re amazed and humbled that so many people chose to participate,” said Record Union CEO Johan Svanberg in a statement. “Now, our aim is to start a network where we can connect all this power, knowledge and expertise, and thereby create a new force and movement of health within the music community.”

Out of 200 projects that were submitted to the initiative, 45 met Record Union’s pre-defined criteria and were put up for a public vote on the organization’s official website. Based on votes by over 4,500 unique visitors, the top 10 vote-getters were then interviewed by a panel of experts to narrow it down to the final three.

According to a Record Union spokesperson, the panel looked for scalable projects that could eventually reach a wider and/or global audience of musicians.

The winners:

Porter’s Call ($15,000)

Based in Franklin, Tennessee, Porter’s Call offers free counseling to full-time musicians and their families. The organization, which claims to have treated over 1,000 musicians to date, takes a proactive strategy by offering what it calls “psychoeducation” programs that teach musicians how to navigate the pressures of a music career before they take hold. With the $15,000, it aims to implement a potentially-scalable “boot camp” program that will equip musicians to deal with career pressures.

What’s Your Story ($10,000)

What’s Your Story is a project by German researcher Melanie Ptatscheck that aims to use ethnographic and narrative analysis “to understand the experiential struggle of musicians falling in and out of addiction.” With the $10,000, Ptatscheck (who received her PhD in addiction and the music industry from Leuphana University of Lüneburg) will continue developing her research, with the goal of creating better data on the role of addiction in the lives of musicians.

Crash and Ride podcast ($5,000)

Hosted by professional drummer Patrick Ferguson, Crash and Ride consists of interviews with professional musicians about their struggles with mental illness. The $5,000 will allow Ferguson to increase the podcast’s following, with the goal of helping to deflate stigma and bring greater awareness.

The 73 Percent Initiative judging panel consisted of Joe Barnby, a doctoral researcher in neuroscience and psychology at King’s College in London; Aleksandra Avil, founder and CEO of the woman-centered networking app Her Online Network (HON); musician and marketing expert Natalie Shamoun; entrepreneur Johan Wahlbäck; and Record Union’s Svanberg and Helena Aru, the company’s PR and Communications Manager.