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Industry pros release guide to ‘healthy career in music’

Industry journalist Rhian Jones and performance coach/consultant Lucy Heyman have unveiled Sound Advice, a two-years-in-the-making manual to building a healthy and happy career in the music business.

Sound Advice: The Ultimate Guide to a Healthy and Successful Career in Music, available to preorder now from Shoreditch Press, is an up-to-date guide on the structure of the modern music industry, with advice on improving performance skills, money management, cultivating creativity, social media and dealing with criticism,  fame and fans.

The book also explores the mental and physical health problems many musicians, and those who work with them, may face in their careers – such as substance use and addiction, eating disorders and body image, musculoskeletal issues and touring, and vocal and hearing health – and includes interviews with leading researchers, health experts, music execs and artists, including Will Young, Imogen Heap, Lady Leshurr, Laura Mvula, Nina Nesbitt, Ella Eyre and Lauren Aquilina.

Through research-informed advice and information, Sound Advice aims to help music professionals “prioritise their mental and physical health while cultivating successful, sustainable and fulfilling careers”, say the authors.

“I had the idea for this book after closely following the ongoing music and health conversation,” explains Jones, a contributor to MBWHits, Billboard and IQ. “It made total sense to me for a business that is predicated on developing and nurturing the talent of creatives to prioritise the health and wellbeing of those creatives.

“If an artist gets physically or mentally sick and can’t work, the people and businesses around them lose money, so it surprised me to find out that there didn’t seem to be many (if any) sanctions in place that were there for the sole purpose of fostering an artist’s good health. And it’s been heartbreaking to witness the many premature deaths of much-loved music talents over recent years.

“As the health and music conversation has gained further traction, lots of interesting ideas have been discussed and various initiatives have launched. Still, there’s little in the way of prevention. This is where we hope Sound Advice will play a part.

“There are no health-focused career guides for those working in popular music, so we aim to plug that gap”

“Education is a vital element in preventing health issues before they escalate, and we’ve aimed to provide that through a combination of research, interviews, professional advice and resources. As far as we know, there are no health-focused career guides for those working in popular music, so we aim to plug that gap while also outlining how vital good health is in the pursuit of a happy, healthy and, therefore, ultimately successful life.”

“Research suggests that musicians may face a large number of mental and physical health issues in their careers, but the majority of these problems are preventable with the right information and support,” comments Heyman, a vocal and performance coach, musician and lecturer. “I wanted to create an easily accessible book that was informed by scientific research and included the lived experiences of musicians, along with the advice and guidance of leading experts and signposts to further support.

‘Studies have shown that, as well as health, musicians want support with the performance side of their career, so we worked with leading psychologists to provide a section which focuses on topics including managing performance anxiety, increasing confidence onstage, overcoming creative blocks, improving practice and more. This section may be particularly useful to musicians who’ve been unable to perform due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and who might need extra support when they return to live performances. We hope that this book will become an essential manual for any musician to give them the correct advice, signposting and treatment of issues as soon as possible should they need it.”

John Reid, president of Live Nation Europe, is one of a number of live music execs to have praised Sound Advice, describing the book as “informative, accessible and, at times, highly entertaining. We have a responsibility to create a healthy and sustainable working environment, [and] music is no different to any other business.

Sound Advice will be a valuable asset to all those artists and executives alike, trying to navigate a safe, successful and sustainable way through our world.”

Sound Advice is released on February 28. To preorder your copy in paperback, hardback or as an ebook, click here.

 


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Mental health of industry pros exposed in new book

Mental health behind the scenes of the live music, festival and event industry has been documented in a new book titled, Stay Sound & Check Yourself.

The book derives from a series of interviews conducted by business insider Holger Jan Schmidt and psychologist Prof. Dr Katja Ehrenberg, exploring the psychological effects of working in ‘an industry that never sleeps’.

The book assembles 15 interviewees that represent the diversity of the European live music industry  – from a 23-year-old Belgian-born PR to a 60-year-old scene veteran from Switzerland – to find out how working in an industry that has such demanding yet fulfilling working conditions impacts their mental health.

Both the individual interviews and the group discussions found that all the professionals share similar experiences of what they find deeply rewarding and what they find stressful in their work. Almost all of them know mental crises, depression or anxieties.

“For every Avicii or Keith Flint, there are a thousand promoters or cable guys who have a similar problem”

As one interviewee put it: “For every Avicii or Keith Flint, there are a thousand promoters or cable guys who have a similar problem.” And another said: “The passion and the burnout go hand in hand.”

Featuring interviews conducted pre-pandemic and mid-pandemic, the book also reports on the unprecedented challenges that have arisen in the past year and gives interviewees the opportunity to reflect on risks and opportunities presented by the pandemic.

The interviews are framed by professional background information on stress and mental health at work and effective suggestions for prevention and intervention, as well as links to further free resources on the issue.

Schmidt and Ehrenberg will mark the release of the publication at Dutch conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) on 14 January alongside Chris Kemp (Momconsultancy), Fruzina Szep (Goodlive) and Lina Urginovska (Password Productions).

Stay Sound & Check Yourself can be ordered from local book shops around Europe and online retailers. All author profits from book sales will be reinvested to projects promoting the visibility of the mental health issue and building prevention and intervention tools.

 


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“It was madness”: New book profiles production pioneers

Veteran tour manager Richard Ames, who has worked with the likes of Fleetwood Mac, the Who, Kate Bush, Wings, XTC, Duran Duran and Mike Oldfield over five decades in the business, has released Live Music Production, the first book covering the early years of the production sector in the UK.

“I hope that this book as a piece of social history will inform, entertain and delight those who were either there, or on the periphery of, or are of an age when rock music was on its meteoric rise,” explains Ames, who initially worked as a PM from 1972 to 1986, when the business was in its infancy.

“Just as equally, I hope that this will become supplementary reading for tomorrow’s students, so they can see how the foundations of this remarkable industry were forged with the 24/7 strength and spirit of these pioneers.”

Alongside the book, published last September by Routledge, Ames also documents his stories from live on the road at his Road Stories website.

“I hope this book become supplementary reading for tomorrow’s students”

Live Music Production is divided into nine chapters – covering lighting, sound, stage design, full production services, rigging, trucking/outdoor staging, bussing/catering and travel agencies – featuring interviews with industry trailblazers such as Bryan Grant (Britannia Row), Del Roll (Edwin Shirley Trucking), Jon Cadbury (PRG), tour/production manager Roger Searle and late stage designer Ian Knight, as well as a foreword by promoter Harvey Goldsmith.

Ames began writing the book 11 years ago (“I’ve always wanted to tell the story of how this extraordinary industry that I have spent 40 years of my own professional life in came about”), and says he hopes Live Music Production will open the door for other similar ‘social histories’ of the live music business.

“I don’t believe that social history in my industry has really taken off yet,” he continues. “The benefits of knowledge of the past, in so many different spheres, can’t surely be disputed – but as for now, I hope to see more and more factual history research published for future generations to appreciate. [So the book is] pioneering, I hope.”

See below for selected (and frequently hilarious) extracts from the book, or buy your copy from RoutledgeIQ readers can benefit from 20% off by entering the discount code HUM19 at checkout.

 


In 1970, Jon Cadbury carries Pink Floyd’s gear to the Netherlands for a festival – with no paperwork…

“Jeff [Torrens, friend and Roundhouse colleague] and I were going to go off and tour Europe with our truck, and Ian [Knight] said, ‘Well, why don’t you just come and take the lights to this festival for us, and then go off on your travels?’

“I hadn’t actually worked out that if you take the lights out there then you are probably going to have bring them back again. Of course, we didn’t think about things like carnets, so we got on the ferry at Harwich got off at the Hook of Holland and customs impounded everything!

“The guys who became Mojo Concerts, Berry Visser and Léon Ramakers, eventually sorted it out; they were the people who promoted that festival [Holland Pop Festival 1970]. They paid some sort of bond that got the lights in and got them out again. I actually took the truck to Schiphol airport to collect the Floyd’s equipment when it came in, and had the band’s entire equipment in this seven-and-a-half-ton truck…

“There was no carnet, so I had to do a deal with the customs agent at Schiphol – which was basically, ‘I have got to get this to the site: they’re the headline act on this bill!’ My deal with this customs officer, who was a young guy who was into music, luckily for me, was that he would release the equipment and he would come to the site with me as long as he could collect a bond.

“So I went to the site and told the organisers and [Floyd manager] Steve O’Rourke that we couldn’t actually unload the truck. I said I wouldn’t let it out of my truck until the customs officer had got his bond – which was probably exceeding my brief somewhat – but we got there. Everyone was passing the buck to someone else to pay the bond and I said, ‘Well, I’ll have to take it back to the airport, then. That was the deal I made with this guy, so if you don’t sort it out…’

“So they did pay the bond and it did happen,the Floyd made an album with all of their equipment lined up in a great photo on an aerodrome [the back sleeve of Ummagumma]. That was that equipment and those were the roadies who were dealing with it. It’s extraordinary.”

“Of course, we didn’t think about things like carnets…”

It’s 1973, and then-junior lighting crew member Brian Croft is on a Lockheed L-749 Constellation from Hawaii to Australia on a Rolling Stones tour…

“It was unbelievable – it was cold, there was no heating, no soundproofing, you couldn’t speak to anybody, couldn’t read really or anything – but it became a big thing and we had a tongue painted on it when we were in Sydney, and then we flew all round Australia. Of course, the band, [including] Keith [Richards, along with] Bobby Keys and Jim [Price] the trumpet player, all came on the plane, and then we are halfway across from Perth back to Sydney and Keith says he has had enough.

“‘I’ve had fun, drunk all the beer’, and all that, but you look down and there is nothing but desert. ‘Well, you can’t stop here, Keith – it’s a long way, it’s like 12 hours!’ So that was a bit of a nightmare. Up until now I’d been doing a lot of straight theatre, and it was almost like an out-of-body experience seeing these mad frontiersmen and hippies, and I’m part of it and risking my life for the glory of the Rolling Stones.

“It’s like madness when you think about it now, but we had some great fun. The important thing about that tour was when the entourage – the whole group: crew, band, roadies, tour manager, probably 22 people – would all go and have dinner together. That was what was nice about it: you would all sit down and have dinner together because it wasn’t an unmanageable number, whereas it’s hundreds now in the touring party.”

“it was almost like an out-of-body experience seeing these mad frontiersmen and hippies”

In 1976, travel agent Mike Hawksworth goes into his office, shared with the Who’s manager, Bill Curbishley…

“At about nine o’clock the phone started ringing. [Curbishley’s] receptionist wasn’t in, so I went to pick up the phone, and it was one of those old phones […] where you have to take the receiver off to dial a number. I’ve gone to pick up the phone receiver and the whole unit comes up – the receiver hasn’t come off; the whole unit has lifted off the desk.

“I said, ‘What the hell?’, but it kept ringing and ringing, so I went over to the next one and try to pick up the receiver, and the whole unit comes up again.

“There are six phones in the office [glued together] like this, out of seven phones: [The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon] had left one unstuck.

“I answered it and Keith said, ‘It took you long enough to answer the bloody phone, didn’t it? If this is the service I’m going to get, then I’m going elsewhere!’ and he put the phone down.”

“We ended up with a gladiatorial match between a forklift truck and an old car”

Led Zeppelin rigger Jon Bray recalls crew days off Knebworth in 1979…

“We had a long gap between the first and second show. The site was sort of empty, apart from a handful of us living there with our caravan. We had some very interesting times there.

“One night, things got rather out of hand and we ended up with a gladiatorial match between a forklift truck and an old car. Somebody tried to do donuts with the car on stage. I don’t know how nobody got killed, actually – we must have been fairly out of it. The car ended up being absolutely destroyed…”

 


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