UK Music Futures Group members tackle key issues for the industry: Part 2

UK Music Futures Group members tackle key issues for the industry: Part 2

The UK Music Futures Group is made of young people from across the music industry.

The Futures Group meets to discuss key issues affecting the music business and feeds directly into the board of UK Music.

Here, as part of a series of articles, two members of the UK Music Futures Group address a key issue for the industry – mental health…

Ree Sewell, artist support manager, AWAL 

“Music, something that is historically known to heal, express and create connections/community, has in recent years told the opposite story adversely impacting our mental health. In 2019 Swedish platform Record Union discovered 73% of independent artists surveyed had struggled with their mental illness with musicians being three times more likely to have anxiety or depression, as explored by Dr Sally Anne Gross and Dr George Musgrave in Can Music Make You Sick?. 

“On the executive side, many feel as though their mental health has been impacted with mental health charity Mind reporting that those working within the music industry often state their mental health issues stem from insecure income, difficulty achieving a work/life balance, pressure from fans and labels, poor diet, lack of sleep and access to alcohol and drugs.”

Are all music companies offering support to all employees? 

RS: “Often support is only given to those who speak out about it but there are still employees who struggle with their mental health in fear of losing their job or of it seeming as though they would be replaced, executives need to be empowered to address their mental health concerns.”

Why is there not a standard set of industry practices for execs? 

RS: “The vast differences between salaries and benefits, such as legal support, can be demoralising between colleagues and can have people questioning their worth within the workplace creating stress and an internalised sense of injustice. 

“There’s also a lack of standard practice which should be uniform across the industry. There’s a need for a code of conduct with overarching rules as the industry lacks governance, which would support the positive changes to improve the most important factors in relation to mental health.”

Example code of conduct 

•  A company should ensure free confidential support is available for staff experiencing difficulties with their mental health and wellness (anxiety, sobriety etc).

• A company should ensure staff are given clear targets to work towards the next pay grade and transparency in PDP/1-2-1 meetings.

• At no point should someone work over a certain amount of hours in any one week.

• At no point should someone feel like they have to attend a work social if they're coping with addiction/sobriety. 

• An initiative to ensure managers/health professionals check in on mental health to avoid getting to the point of burn out, crises and resignation.

What can be done to challenge the mental health issues that stems from the impact of the recession/cost of living crisis? 

RS: “Can individual budgets be done when considering salaries/promotions as some people are literally working for roofs over their heads and this is impacting morale and mental health – it’s not sustainable.”

With 43% of professional musicians earning less than £14,000 a year, and 73% of independent musicians suffering from symptoms of mental illness, what can be done to protect and nurture our creative talent?

Frank Hamilton, independent artist

Independent artists and creatives often bear the brunt of the music industry's disposable culture, but the onus shouldn't solely be on us to seek solutions. The industry as a whole must continue to prioritise mental health, accessible resources, dismantling the culture of disposability, and ensuring equitable support for all creatives, just as it should for its executives. 

“There are already some great initiatives, especially when it comes to things like mentoring, but we’re still barely scratching the surface and should be treating the disease as well as the symptoms. It's time for executives and decision makers to acknowledge their role in fostering a healthier, more sustainable environment for all artists and creatives – not just the ones they work with directly!”


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