Industry bullying and harassment helpline launched
A new helpline that supports those suffering bullying and harassment within the UK music industry has been launched by charity Help Musicians.
The move, which is backed by organisations including UK Music, The Musicians’ Union (MU), the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), and the BPI, follows a number of high-profile musicians speaking out on the need for more to be done to support those experiencing difficulties.
The service will be offered to everyone working within the music industry, with callers able to immediately speak with a specialist bullying and harassment counsellor. The new helpline aims to fill a gap in support provision, ensuring that those working in the music industry, including freelancers, have a place to turn for advice and practical help.
“Bullying and harassment requires a collaborative response across the music industry,” says James Ainscough, CEO of Help Musicians. “The creation of the helpline is a vital next step and Help Musicians is well placed to provide this service, as an independent charity.
“We hope in time that musicians and all those who work in music will feel better emotionally supported”
“Anyone who is concerned about a bullying and harassment situation can call the helpline, share their concerns confidentially and receive advice on how to navigate the issue they are facing. We hope in time that musicians and all those who work in music will feel better emotionally supported as well as gaining practical advice on how to resolve any problems.
“The anonymous insight we will gather through this service will shed more light on the issues being experienced and help to target the collaborative efforts for positive and permanent change across the music industry. This is a vital service, and we ask for everybody’s help in promoting awareness of it, to ensure that individuals who need it will know that they can call for support at any time.”
As well as helping those impacted by bullying and harassment, the new helpline aims to shed more light on the extent of the issue across the industry and inform collaborative, industry-wide efforts for a positive and permanent change to help stamp out bullying and harassment.
Help Musicians will ensure full anonymity for all callers and the service will work alongside The MU’s SafeSpace service and the ISM-MU Code of Conduct. Anyone within the UK music industry experiencing bullying and harassment can call the helpline on 0800 088 2045.
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Major artists to perform in aid of music charities
Newton Faulkner, Charlotte Church and The Supernaturals are among the artists set to perform for at-home charity festival Music Feeds.
Organised by ethical, non-profit promoter Everybody Belongs Here and with support from Co-op, Music Feeds will broadcast performances from more than 40 artists from 8 pm GMT on 28 and 29 January to raise money for charities dedicated to crew, musicians and tackling food poverty.
Tickets for the two-night event cost £15 and net proceeds from the sales will be split between three charities with 70% going to FareShare (a long-running charity network aimed at relieving food poverty and reducing food waste in the UK), 20% to Stagehand (live production hardship fund) and 10% to Help Musicians (the UK’s leading charity for musicians).
As part of Music Feeds, Co-op has also donated one million pounds, with the same percentage split, to all three charities.
As part of Music Feeds, Co-op has also donated one million pounds
Other artists performing at the event include: Sam Smith, Blossoms, Fontaines DC, Fenne Lily, Kyle Falconer (The View), Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals), The Slow Readers Club, Steve Mason, October Drift and more. See the full line-up here.
Tickets are available through DICE, the official ticketing partner of Everybody Belongs Here.
Stagehand – which is this year’s Nikos Fund, the ILMC charity of the year – recently raised £535, 840 for production staff and stage crew impacted by the loss of work caused by the Covid-19 pandemic through a prize draw featuring unique memorabilia from artists.
The charity has already raised £280,000 in donations from PPL, the BPI, major record labels and artist management companies – most of which went to the 300 crew members in the most desperate need late last year – and is also collecting more through other fundraising initiatives including Prints For Music.
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One Industry One Voice issues mental health resources
One Industry One Voice (OIOV), the coalition of UK events associations and businesses, has issued a list of mental health resources for event professionals in time for Christmas.
As 2020 comes to a close, bringing to an end the most difficult year in history for those working in live events, OIOV – whose membership includes LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment), as well as WeMakeEvents, BVEP, SOLT and more – has produced the list to aid those experiencing stress and mental health issues ahead of the festive season.
“As other industries now begin to return to work, restrictions upon capacities and social distancing [mean] a large number of live events are no longer viable, and the people who organise and deliver them remain out of work,” says OIOV in a statement.
“For many of these people, on furlough, or facing or having been made redundant; those who’ve fallen through the cracks and haven’t had access to financial support; even those still at work in an industry that’s changing, this has been and remains a hugely stressful time with no clear end in sight.
“It’s good to talk and it’s important not to suffer alone”
“While there are a number of industry campaigns working towards securing financial support, removing restrictions and helping people get back to work, for lots of people if feels like time is running out and there’s nowhere to turn.”
While many people are aware of at least one or two organisations who can help, OIOV points out that, to date, there isn’t a single industry resource signposting all resources – something it aims to change by issuing the list below.
“If you’re experiencing stress or mental health issues, or if it simply feels like it’s getting too much, it’s important to get help and support, whether this be from a partner, friend, colleague or professional,” the organisation adds. “It’s good to talk and it’s important not to suffer alone.”
Keep reading for the full list…
Eventwell is a registered community social enterprise (not for profit) set up to be the event industry’s charitable community and support service for mental health and wellbeing. Their website offers a helpline you can contact via email, text or WhatsApp. There are also groups on LinkedIn and Facebook offering support and advice.
Stress Matters is an events industry-specific workplace wellbeing organisation focused on generating insights, creating accountability and providing support. The website contains links to access to confidential ‘support circles’, running Wednesdays at 8.30pm on Zoom, providing an opportunity to listen, talk and support other industry colleagues. No registration is required: you can jump straight in using meeting ID 82595995950 and password 455098. Buddies Matter, meanwhile, is a free peer-to-peer support scheme for event professionals, particularly freelancers, with the aim of matching people together to provide mutual support.
Music Support is a registered charity founded and run by people from the UK music industry for individuals suffering from mental, emotional and behavioural health disorders (including, but not limited to alcohol and drug addiction). The current services offered are a helpline, 0800 030 6789, open Monday–Friday from 9am to 5pm; the Thrive app, for txt-based coaching; Mental Health First Aider (MHFA) training; and a weekly online 12-step support group meeting for industry peers in recovery from addiction.
Back Up Tech
Backup provides financial support to entertainment technology industry professionals who are seriously ill or injured or to their surviving family members. Grants are tailored to each individual and uses can include basic living costs, medical related expenses, transportation, and funeral expenses.
The British Association for Performing Arts Medicine is a healthcare charity giving medical advice to people working and studying in the performing arts. BAPAM help you overcome (and preferably avoid) work-related health problems and is dedicated to sharing knowledge about healthy practice. BAPAM helps support musicians with free and confidential GP assessment clinics, and referrals to the best treatment available.
Help Musicians is an independent UK charity for professional musicians offering a 24/7 helpline alongside health and welfare support. The helpline, Music Minds Matter (0808 802 8008) is available any time of day or night for a listening ear; it doesn’t have to be a crisis. MMM has trained advisors that are there to listen, support and help at any time.
The Theatrical Guild
A UK charity for backstage and front-of-house workers with over 125 years’ experience helping people. Talk to The Theatrical Guild for practical help at any stage of your career – from welfare and debt advice to financial support and counselling.
Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. The organisation campaigns to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. Mind provides both an ‘Infoline’, which offers callers confidential help for the price of a local call, and a ‘Legal Line’, which provides information on mental health-related law to the public, service users, family members/carers, mental health professionals and mental health advocates. The Mind website also contains a number of publications and information.
Samaritans is a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a week helpline. Every seven seconds, Samaritans answers a call for help, day or night, for anyone who’s struggling to cope; anyone who needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure. You can call Samaritans on 116 123 or email [email protected].
The Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm) is leading a movement against suicide. Calm runs a free and anonymous helpline, seven days a week, 365 days a year, from 5pm to midnight. To speak to someone, call 0800 585858 or visit www.thecalmzone.net/help.
Sane is a leading UK mental health charity working to improve the quality of life for anyone affected by mental illness. Sane provides emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including families, friends and carers. Although the previous SANEline number cannot operate at the moment, you can leave a message on 07984 967 708, giving your first name and a contact number, and one of Sane’s professionals or senior volunteers will call you back as soon as practicable. You can also email Sane at [email protected].
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
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Help Musicians appoints new president
British music industry charity Help Musicians has appointed Dame Evelyn Glennie as president.
Only the third person, and first woman, to hold the honorary post, Dame Evelyn succeeds composer and conductor Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, who died in 2016. The first president, meanwhile, was legendary composer Sir Edward Elgar, best known for his Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 (aka ‘Land of Hope and Glory’).
Glennie (pictured), a double Grammy- winner, is known as the first person to sustain a successful full-time career as a solo percussionist. She played the first percussion concerto in the history of the BBC Proms in 1992, and led 1,000 drummers in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic games seen, globally by over 900 million viewers.
Graham Sheffield CBE, chair of the Help Musicians board of trustees, said: “I am thrilled to welcome Dame Evelyn Glennie into the Help Musicians family as our new president. Just like her two predecessors, Elgar and Maxwell Davies, Evelyn is a musical giant of her time. She is a trailblazer, whose energy and musicality reach beyond traditional boundaries to musicians and music lovers of all genres.”
“As we approach our centenary next year, we are honoured that Evelyn has joined us)
“Throughout her career, Evelyn has demonstrated a unique ability as a communicator and inspiration,” he adds. “As we approach our centenary next year, we are honoured that she has joined us to help spread our key messages around the development and welfare of professional musicians, as well as the importance and power of music.”
Formerly known as the Musicians Benevolent Fund, and later Help Musicians UK, Help Musicians helps artists and other music industry professionals in crisis with problems including mental health issues, isolation and financial turmoil.
It provides a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week helpline for people suffering with mental health problems via its Music Minds Matter service, launched in December 2017 in response to the findings of its Can Music Make You Sick? study released the previous year.
Bravado launches charitable face mask range
Universal Music Group-owned merchandising company Bravado has launched a range of face masks to raise money for charity partners including MusiCares and Help Musicians UK.
As reported by IQ earlier this week, face masks are becoming must-have merchandise for music fans, with bands including My Chemical Romance and Korn added branded face coverings to their merch offerings.
Now, UMG’s merchandising arm, Bravado, has unveiled its own range of reusable, washable cloth face masks. Available on the new We’ve Got You Covered e-commerce site, Bravado’s masks feature designs for artists including the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Blackpink, Billie Eilish and the Weeknd.
Starting today (24 April), fans can purchase Bravado’s face masks for US$15. All net proceeds – no less than $8 per product sold – go towards charities supporting the music industry through the coronavirus crisis.
“This initiative will continue to grow and evolve thanks to the hard work from everyone here at Bravado and UMG along with our artists across the globe”
“I’m humbled and grateful to work with artists and partners who are passionate and driven to deliver a program that supports those that need it most during this unprecedented time,” comments Bravado CEO, Mat Vlasic.
“This initiative will continue to grow and evolve thanks to the hard work from everyone here at Bravado and UMG along with our artists across the globe.”
All UMG employees have been offered free face masks through the We’ve Got You Covered programme.
The company will also contribute 50,000 masks to those serving communities across the US including workers in food banks, school lunch programmes, homeless shelters and other community service providers.
ILMC 32 unveils third wave of speakers
A diverse and international group of industry professionals make up the latest round of speakers for the International Live Music Conference (ILMC) and Futures Forum, which take place in London in March.
The group, which join previously announced panel chairs and workshop hosts, as well as many high-profile guest speakers, includes representatives from Live Nation, ICM Partners, Paradigm, the O2 Arena, Fullsteam, Solo Agency and many more.
A highly international delegation of speakers come together for The Global Marketplace: Games without frontiers session, with representatives from Live Nation Asia, Korea’s International Creative Agency, UAE’s Flash Entertainment, Brazil’s Live Talentos and Singapore’s Midas Promotions, as well as a Kenyan-based agent from Austria’s Georg Leitner Productions.
Futures Forum is back with a bang on Friday 6 March, after a successful debut outing last year. The OK, Boomer: Closing the generation gap panel sees Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery and Anna-Sophie Mertens, ICM Partners’ Scott Mantell and Kevin Jergenson, and CAA’s Maria May and Jen Hammel join forces in an all-new session pairing up senior executives with their more junior counterparts.
Futures Forum is back with a bang, after a highly successful debut outing last year
More highlights on the future-focused day include the Meet the New Bosses: Class of 2020 session, chaired by Ticketmaster’s Jo Young, and featuring new bosses Charly Beedell-Tuck (Solo Agency), Matt Pickering-Copley (Primary Talent International) and Marc Saunders (the O2), three of the list of twelve future live music industry leaders selected by ILMC and IQ Magazine this year.
Following on from last year’s thought-provoking panel on wellbeing, the Mental Health: Next steps for live discussion, led by ATC Live’s Stacey Pragnell, will feature guest speakers Adam Ficek (Babyshambles/Music & Mind), Richard Mutimer (Paradigm), Aino-Maria Paasivirta (Fullsteam Agency) and Joe Hastings (Help Musicians) and look at how to formulate a healthier and happier industry for the future.
With over 100 speakers and 40 sessions over the whole conference, there are plenty of big names and exciting details left to be announced in the coming weeks.
ILMC is taking place from 3 to 6 March at the Royal Garden Hotel in London. Companies supporting this year’s conference include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, Eventim, WME, Universe, Livestyled, Tysers, Joy Station, Mojo Rental and Showsec.
Music industry backs World Mental Health Day
Today (10 October) is World Mental Health Day 2018, and artists, music companies and industry charities are doing their bit to raise awareness of what has been called an industry wide mental health crisis.
World Mental Health Day, created by the World Federation for Mental Health, has been observed annually since 1992. This year’s theme is ‘Young people and mental health in a changing world’, recognising the specific challenges faced by young people, one in five of whom will suffer with mental illness before they reach 24.
Several well-publicised studies have revealed that poor mental health is particularly prevalent in the global music industry, including Norwegian research from 2016 that found musicians are three times more likely to be undergoing psychotherapy than the average person, and 50% more likely to be using psychotropic medication, and a Victoria University study in 2017 that discovered the incidence of depression for those working in live entertainment is five times higher than the general population.
Among the organisations seeking to make headlines like those history is Britain’s Help Musicians UK (HMUK), which is using World Mental Health Day (WMH Day) to publicise its Music Minds Matter service, which it announced last July and launched in December in response to what it called a “mental health crisis” in the music industry.
Using the hashtag #MyMusicMindMatters, HMUK will “keep the conversation [around mental health] going by inviting the industry, artists, friends, supporters and social media communities to share the music that ‘matters’ to them.” The music will then be compiled into a playlist to raise awareness of the Music Minds Matter service, which combines a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week helpline with clinical, medical, therapeutic and welfare support for those in need.
“We wanted to … shine a light on the worryingly common issues of mental health across the music industry”
The charity has also announced new partnerships with electronic music school Point Blank, on this evening’s Guide to Survival in the Music Industry session, and US-based nonprofit Give An Hour, for the second Global Summit on Mental Health Culture Change, taking place in London from 10 to 12 October, as well as supporting the upcoming Venues Day 2018 conference.
“By launching the #MyMusicMindMatters campaign and announcing our diverse range of partnerships, HMUK continues to keep mental health high on the agenda, raise awareness of the support available and encourage positive and lasting change,” says interim HMUK CEO James Ainscough. “Through our holistic programme of support, HMUK continues to make a difference to the lives of our beneficiaries by helping to build a sustainable future for all within the industry.”
Also marking WMH Day is Music Support, which alongside a 24/7 helpline of its own provides Safe Tents at UK festivals and services including crisis management psychiatric assessment and signposting.
Artist manager Matt Thomas, who founded Music Support alongside production manager Andy Franks, today spoke on mental health and addiction at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM) in London, part of a programme that also includes HMUK’s health and welfare officer, Aidan Culley, Mind counsellor Skye Blythe-Whitelock and musician-turned-counsellor John O’Reilly:
Matt Thomas, founding trustee, will be down at @BIMMLondon today to talk about mental health and addiction in the music industry, how to spot it, how to prevent it and most importantly, how to help each other. Make sure you pop down between 1pm and 2pm#WorldMentalHealthDay pic.twitter.com/veyL4p5CZn
— Music Support (@Musicsupport_uk) October 10, 2018
In the festival world, meanwhile, the UK’s Association of Independent Festivals is gearing up for next month’s Festival Congress and the Independent Festival Awards 2018.
Among other awards – including an outstanding contribution gong for late Tramlines festival director Sarah Nulty – the Act of Independence prize will be awarded to London’s Meltdown for replacing Frightened Rabbit’s set at the event with a panel on mental health in the music industry following the death of Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison.
Bengi Ünsal, senior contemporary music programmer at festival organiser Southbank Centre, comments: “We are incredibly honoured and humbled to receive this award. After hearing the news of Scott Hutchison’s death, instead of leaving the Queen Elizabeth Hall unprogrammed and keeping the issue in the dark, we wanted to use the space and the platform of Meltdown festival to bring people together and shine a light on the worryingly common issues of mental health across the music industry.
“I am grateful to this year’s curator, Robert Smith, and to the wider Southbank Centre team for making it happen, and to the bravely candid panellists for sharing their experiences.”
Also making a difference are veteran Texan alt-rockers Nothing More, who have partnered on their latest The Truth tour with nonprofit To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), donating US$1 from each ticket sale to the organisation, which helps those struggling with depression or addiction.
“The stigma surrounding mental health deserves to be challenged”
“We’ve seen firsthand how they [Nothing More] empower their fans to embrace things that we believe to be true: that stigma surrounding mental health deserves to be challenged, that your story deserves an audience and that together we can embody a defiant sense of hope,” says TWLOHA’s Chad Moses. “We look forward to standing alongside Nothing More on this journey toward truth.”
Elsewhere, UK performance rights organisation PRS for Music used WMH Day to announce a new mental health initiative for its hundreds of staff. By joining forces with Mental Health First Aid England (MHFA England) to train a group of ‘mental health first-aiders’, PRS says it will be able to provide “support to colleagues on the same basis as physical first-aiders”.
Steve Powell, PRS for Music chief financial officer, says mental health is “a subject of great importance to me personally”. “Today we’ve announced a new mental health and wellbeing initiative that I hope will provide mental wellbeing support to everyone at PRS for Music,” he comments, “and help continue to break down the stigma attached to discussing it.”
Finally, ticket agency Skiddle – whose recent survey discovered staggering levels of anxiety and depression among UK promoters and venue staff – has shared footage of a follow-up panel session at London’s Queen of Hoxton, which discussed the challenges that promoters face and their effects on health, relationships and happiness.
Watch the discussion, which featured HMUK’s Christine Brown, artist-producer Matt Cantor, Claire Cordeaux of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine and Eugene Wild of Tottenham club the Cause, below:
Help Musicians UK launches Scottish operation
Industry charity Help Musicians UK (HMUK) is to launch a permanent Scottish operation, Help Musicians Scotland (HMScotland), it announced today.
Glasgow-based HMScotland, which aims to help all those working in the Scottish music industry, will be inaugurated with an acoustic Idlewild-headlined show, Rooted in Scotland, at King Tuts (300-cap.) on 1 February.
The opening of the Scottish office follows HMUK’s launch of its first regional office, in Northern Ireland, in 2016. The charity hopes by 2021 to also have a regional presence in Wales, the Republic of Ireland and the north of England.
Claire Gevaux, director of HMScotland, comments: “After a year of listening and reflecting on the needs of the Scottish music scene, I’m excited to see HMScotland launch in a few weeks.
“We are wholly committed to being an impactful national charity”
“I look forward to sharing more of our ambitions at the launch on 1 February 2018 when we will set down our permanent roots across the whole of Scotland.”
Richard Robinson, HMUK’s chief executive, adds: “Following a successful launch in Northern Ireland in 2016, this marks HMUK’s second permanent regional operation.
“We are wholly committed to being an impactful national charity, and our new Scottish operation will aim support and enrich the musical landscape of Scotland by taking an entrepreneurial and proactive approach to programming, supporting and giving.”
Further Rooted in Scotland events will be announced in the coming days.
HMUK last year launched Music Minds Matter, a campaign to raise funding for a new 24/7 mental-health service for people working in music, following the suicide of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington.
£100k HMUK fund to address mental health “crisis”
Help Musicians UK (HMUK) today announced the launch of Music Minds Matter, a campaign to raise funding for a new 24/7 mental-health service for people working in music.
HMUK has itself already put £100,000 into Music Minds Matter – set up, says the charity, in response to the “mental health crisis” in the music industry – and hopes to double its investment, with £200,000 the minimum needed to make the service viable beyond 2018. The service, which combines a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week helpline with “clinical, medical, therapeutic and welfare support”, is set to launch later this year.
Speaking to IQ on Friday following the suicide of Chester Bennington (pictured), HMUK chief executive Richard Robinson identified the need for a practical medical response to mental illness among musicians and other people working in the industry. “If people can talk to musicians who already have experience of mental-health problems, alcoholism or addiction, that’s a fantastic service – but there has to a clinical response, too,” he said. “That’s what’s missing.”
An HMUK study, Can Music Make You Sick?, released in November found almost three quarters of respondents – all professional musicians – had experienced episodes of anxiety and depression, with more than half saying they felt underserved by the support available currently.
Announcing Music Minds Matter, Help Musicians calls for “arm-in-arm” support from the industry and philanthropists to match its investment pound for pound. The money will be put towards financing the global music mental health platform, in collaboration with partners in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, revealed by Robinson on Friday.
“For generations and generations, the music industry has lost some of its brightest talent and future stars due to the scourge of mental health and related issues,” says Robinson today. “The situation is now urgent and we can no longer allow this to continue. We have decided to make this landmark investment as a precursor to a dedicated service – but we cannot undertake this work in isolation.
“I’m sure that this investment and the Music Minds Matter campaign would have met with Chester’s approval”
“We need the music industry to step up, arm in arm with Help Musicians, and match our support pound for pound […] The forthcoming specialist 24/7 mental health service will be a global first and go hand in hand with Help Musicians’ traditional health and welfare support, which offers advice and often financial support to people in the industry across a wide range of issues.”
Madina Lake bassist Matthew Leone, who toured with Bennington and Linkin Park in 2007, adds: “I spent many hours working alongside Chester and he was an incredibly passionate man. I’m sure that this investment and the Music Minds Matter campaign would have met with his approval. Likewise, having spoken to Linkin Park’s management, I know that they are anxious to follow this campaign through to a successful conclusion.
“This unique service will revolutionise the way musicians and the music industry think about mental health. Its been a long time coming and I strongly urge the music community to support this brand-new fund.”
To donate to the fund, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/MusicMindsMatter.
Calls for action on mental health after Linkin Park death
The death of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, who took his own life yesterday aged 41, has once again thrust into the spotlight the issue of mental health in the music industry.
Several industry figures contacted by IQ in the aftermath of Bennington’s passing, which comes just two months after the suicide of his close friend, Chris Cornell, have expressed sadness at the singer’s suicide – but not surprise. Tour manager Andy Franks (Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Depeche Mode) describes a culture in which vulnerable people are allowed to “fall through the cracks”.
“It’s a terrible, terrible shame, but not a shock,” says Franks, who now runs the charity Music Support, which, among other services, operates a 24/7 phoneline for execs, artists, crew and techs struggling with their mental health and provides ‘Safe Tents’ at music festivals. “Our business is one of highs and lows – gratification followed by extreme isolation and loneliness – and it’s very difficult to look after your mental health during the low periods.”
Another charity offering mental-health support services to the music industry is Help Musicians UK (HMUK), whose chief executive, Richard Robinson, says what’s currently lacking in the industry is a unified, international clinical response to poor mental health.
HMUK’s recent Can Music Make You Sick? survey revealed almost three quarters of respondents – all professional musicians – had experienced episodes of anxiety and depression, with more than half saying they felt underserved by the support available currently.
The charity is constantly “pushing forward to find solutions and services” to change that, says Robinson, who reveals HMUK is working with partners internationally on launching a “global service” to support those in need, wherever they are in the world.
“There’s an element of good that befriending can do,” he explains. “If people can talk to musicians who already have experience of mental-health problems, alcoholism or addiction, that’s a fantastic service – but there has to a clinical response, too. That’s what’s missing.
“Support doesn’t need to cost a huge amount, but it is vital every single company is equipped”
“If an artist of Chester’s high profile had a terrible issue [on tour] in another country, at the moment there’s no global service there to support him.”
While HMUK works on the launch of its international network of music biz-centric mental health provision (“We don’t want to turn it into a celebratory moment,” comments Robinson. “The fact is there have been far too many tragedies that have pushed the industry into this situation”), Robinson notes the service “will never replace” those offering emotional support for those in distress, existing side by side with organisations such as Music Support or, more generally, the Samaritans.
Franks says Music Support’s focus is on preventing tragedies like Bennington’s suicide by acting before it spirals into a crisis.
While charities such as Music Support do what they can with limited resources – “Even if we were 5,000 octopuses, we still wouldn’t have enough hands to do everything,” Franks comments – Franks says he believes mental health is still a “grey area” when it comes to obligations. He explains. “There was one major concert cancelled recently. Most people working there were freelancers – who looks after them when they don’t have any work?
“Management were looking after the artist, promoters were saying, ‘Should we be looking after this situation?’, even if it’s outside their remit… It’s a grey area. No one really wants to take responsibility.”
Away from the charitable sector, professional associations such as the Music Managers Forum (MMF) are also taking the lead in raising awareness of mental illness and providing practical advice and assistance to those working in the industry.
MMF’s Music Managers’ Guide to Mental Health, backed by both Music Support and HMUK, was launched in May at The Great Escape in Brighton. General manager Fiona McGugan tells IQ the music industry “should be a world leader in understanding, providing support and being preventative in this area, and it is our ability to educate ourselves and others that will create the most change.”
“It’s very difficult to look after your mental health during the low periods”
Mental-health support, she adds, “doesn’t need to cost a huge amount, but it is vital every single company is equipped, particularly when it comes to crisis management”.
Robinson says mental health is increasingly “becoming a talking point” in the music business, but that it has “taken some seismic shocks to push the industry into a response”. “It shouldn’t take a horrific circumstance like this to put mental health back on the agenda,” he comments.
While raising awareness of the issue is important, says Franks, removing ‘the stigma’ around mental illness counts for little without concrete measures to back it up.
He suggests a fund, paid into by industry organisations, as a good first step towards rectifying that: “People are falling through the cracks. It’s high time action was taken. We have all these conferences, you hear the great and the good talk about these things, but what actually happens when they leave?
“A fund, with everybody putting into it, would help. Should there be a levy on ticket sales? Could the PRS pay in? Should government contribute? They’re happy enough to take the VAT on ticket money…”
He calls on those working in the business to get in touch if they feel they can be of assistance. “I’m always being told by promoters, managers, agents, ‘We’d really like to help’,” Franks explains. “Well, now’s your chance: Help!”
Equally, says Robinson, HMUK is here to play its part – as it has for almost a century – in what he calls a “challenge for the global music industry”: “What I want the industry to see is that the third sector is really stepping up.”