Nearly three-quarters of independent musicians have experienced “stress, anxiety and/or depression” in relation to their work, a new study has found.
The results, which were published on April 30, are based on a web survey of nearly 1,500 independent musicians by Swedish-based digital distribution platform Record Union between March 21 and April 2. The survey found 73% of the population had faced negative mental health issues, with anxiety and depression topping the list of symptoms. Among those aged 18-25, the numbers are even worse, with 80% of respondents in that age range having experienced negative mental health effects stemming from their music careers.
“Our study is telling us that something needs to change,” said Record Union CEO Johan Svanberg in a statement. “It’s time to put the state of our artists’ mental health on the agenda, before streams and commercial success. We as an industry must wake up and ask ourselves: What’s our responsibility in this and what can we do to create a healthier music climate?”
In addition to depression and anxiety, 33% of those surveyed had experienced panic attacks, while 57% said they worry about their mental health and well-being and 41% said they worry about it multiple times a day. Factors contributing to the symptoms include fear of failure, financial instability, being evaluated by others and the “pressure to deliver.”
Of those who said they had suffered from symptoms of mental illness, only 39% (and only 33% of those aged 18-25) said they had sought out treatment for their symptoms. Of that same group, 51% said they had self-medicated, the majority with alcohol and drugs.
Perhaps most tellingly, only 19% of respondents said they think the music industry is working to create a “sustainable music climate with healthy artists.” Over 1,000 answers were collected from the other 81% regarding how the music industry could do better.
In concert with the study (titled “The 73 Percent Report”), Record Union has committed to donating $30,000 to projects designed to prevent or treat mental illness in musicians. Interested parties can submit their projects to the73percent.com between May 7 and June 2. The submitted projects will be published June 3 on the website, where artists and other interested parties can vote for their favorites using Facebook or Google validation anytime before June 16. The top 10 vote-getters will then meet before a panel of experts, who will decide which three projects split the $30,000.
“The music industry has traditionally been defining success on commercial terms,” added Svanberg. “To be seen as successful you need to reach high sales and tour goals. It’s always money first. To create a more sustainable music climate with healthier artists, we believe that this needs to change and that artists need to start thinking about their mental health as part of the success.”
The experts who will vote on the projects include 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.