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Music and Mental Health: AFEM Talks Mental Health in the Music Industry

Photograph of the blog post author, Sophie Small

Sophie Small


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It’s important as a business to step back and have a scan across the company and analyse what’s going on in the bigger picture. This is the same for an individual creative because you should be looking at yourself as a business but that’s a different article for another time. There is more to success than the creation of a good product, there is more to motivation than just one core goal and so you have to check yourself sometimes.

A couple of weeks ago myself and Jon (CEO & Founder) attended the Association for Electronic Music workshop about music and mental health. The idea was to discuss mental health in the music industry as the name suggests and what we as managers can do to help ourselves, our staff and for us as well our community.

It was really refreshing to take our minds away from the material needs of our members and the business and to really focus on something that is of genuine importance to every person that we interact with throughout our journey in life. Music for Mental Wealth took the workshop in partnership with AFEM and what was interesting around their approach was their particular focus on prevention and also the neurology of listening to the body and mind in tandem from a scientific perspective. My favourite quote from Stewart Lane, who is a Mental Wellbeing Coach, was:

Your brain isn’t your most intelligent part of your body. It can convince you not to do things that are in your best interest, would you call that intelligent?

I asked Stewart to sum this up in better words than I could for those of you who are interested in further understanding where Neuroscience goes with this;

Our bodies provide us with a regular flow of updates on our well-being and stress levels throughout the day. The problem for many of us is,  we’ve learned to stop listening to it. The field of Neuroscience is helping us to understand the impact of our thoughts and actions on our well-being and how we can reconnect with our own personal internal health barometer that is our body.

Music industry mental health

We are all under huge strain to keep ourselves going in a saturated market, sometimes this means having to sacrifice our passion for a part-time or full-time job out of the industry, putting ourselves forward for opportunities again and again only to get rejected and this process can be wearing on our minds and bodies. During the discussion Jon actually highlighted the link between musicians and depression from a personal experience:

During my experience as a DJ, it was so so tough and that was during a better market than today. You would constantly be knocked back or rejected and getting the self-motivation to get back on your feet to go again, I can totally see how people can become mentally affected or depressed with it. It’s one of the reasons Music Gateway exists, to try and expand those doors. I think it’s absolutely key that we talk about prevention and making people aware of themselves and their mind.

Will this stress ever alleviate itself? In a sad but true statement, no one knows. We can, of course, do things to better the industry we work with. We hope that although people are faced with the same knockback at times are platform allows them a wider range of opportunities to get involved in which leads to a higher success rate for indies as well as the professional tools to fight the good fight in terms of pitching and managing your catalogue. As the market improves, hopefully, we’ll see this improve the mental wellbeing of our industry. It will not cure music industry mental health but it should definitely start to help. I’m not sure it’ll ever stop being a tough industry to work in but maybe with the help of workshop’s like AFEM & Music for Mental Wealth we can start to see the space become more aware, open and safe and in turn make that journey a little easier and positive to take.

At Music Gateway

As a company, we came away with some really great pieces of advice as well as an affirmation that we were on the right track for supporting our staff in a proactive and reactive way. Our minds were buzzing afterwards with ideas on how we can improve our own mental states as well as encourage the staff to do the same and as a company, this is something that’s important to us outside of any business goals.

So ask yourself; Are you listening to your body or mind? Are you aware of how you feel? How are you handling your journey? After more and more talking about self-care, I am a big believer of the phrase; take care of your happiness and the rest will happen naturally.

For a free coaching consultation you should check out Music for Mental Wealth and if you’re curating electronic music make sure you’re part of an association like AFEM who will support you.

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