Roadie Cookbook to fund mental health aid on tour
A group of live music crew members have curated a non-profit cookbook with the aim of funding mental health first aid training for ‘every tour bus in the UK’.
The publication, titled The Roadie Cookbook: Toured There, Ate That, is a collection of 50 recipes, anecdotes and advice, helping road crew continue to enjoy meals together in the absence of crew catering.
The brains behind the book is production manager Nick Gosling (Nile Rodgers & Chic), who came up with the idea in April 2020, at the onset of the pandemic.
The project was curated with production coordinator Julie Cotton (Massive Attack), production assistant Athena Caramitsos and backline tech Rich House (Elbow), after the four encouraged their peers to share recipes over social media and Zoom in the absence of touring.
“While almost every venue in the world closed, home kitchens became the new catering hub for unemployed workers”
“Food is a fundamental part of life on the road,” a press release reads. “When the devastation of Covid-19 hit, live music stopped overnight, and tour buses stood still. While almost every venue in the world closed, home kitchens became the new catering hub for unemployed music workers.
“As stories of memorable meals and secret ingredients in roadie comfort food took hold, so did the stark reality that isolation and mental ill-health was becoming commonplace within the forgotten touring business…the idea of an industry cookbook was formed.”
The book’s contributors have worked with artists and events ranging from Dolly Parton to Bryan Ferry, Chemical Brothers, Kylie Minogue, Glastonbury, Linkin Park, Robbie Williams, Anastacia and Jay Z.
Recipes include The Killer Sandwich, Stage Left Satay Bowls, Tour Bus Nachos, and the Loose Cocktail.
Pre-order The Roadie Cookbook: Toured There, Ate That for £25 here.
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MMF updates guide to mental health
The Music Managers Forum (MMF) has published a new expanded version of the MMF Guide to Mental Health 2021 – a free online resource tailored specifically to the wellbeing concerns of modern-day managers.
Stress management, imposter syndrome, anxiety and depression, alcoholism and drug dependency, and healthy boundaries are among the issues addressed in the guide, which also includes a full directory of professional support services and signposting to further reading and detailed expertise.
The updated version, which is being discussed today at music industry conference The Great Escape, is co-authored with Sam Parker of specialist music mental health consultants Parker Consulting and co-founder of Music Support.
MMF Chair and Biffy Clyro manager Paul Craig has penned the introduction and chairman and CEO of Universal Music UK David Joseph has written the guide’s closing words.
“Managers often experience extreme stress which has only recently been properly recognised”
“I’m really proud that the MMF continues to recognise the importance of mental health support for music managers and artists,” says MMF chair and Biffy Clyro manager, Paul Craig.
“Through initiatives like this updated guide and our revised Code of Practice we continue to be part of a vital industry-wide conversation. Managers and artists often experience extreme stress, with a myriad of highs and lows, which has only recently been properly recognised and which the pandemic has exacerbated and placed immense focus on. The more we talk openly and candidly about these pressures, the better the safeguarding and guidance everyone will be able to provide in the coming years.”
Sam Parker, co-author of the MMF Mental Health Guide, says: “Music has the power to educate, to break down cultural, social and economic barriers, to influence politics and promote cultural appreciation. As an audience member at a live show it can make you dance, sing and share a common experience with those around you that will be remembered forever. It enriches the human experience.
“What better job could there be than to facilitate this? But sometimes the level of intensity can take its toll. This updated guide takes some of those challenges and presents solutions, which I hope will allow artist managers to successfully support the work and careers of their artists without sacrificing their own health and well-being in the process. All whilst performing a job that is truly unique. I look forward to discussing the nature of this relationship and the guide at the Great Escape today.”
Positive changes in touring start with baby steps
Continuing our series of columns by leading production and tour managers, IQ speaks to Rebecca Travis who has been on the road for over two decades with artists including Florence + The Machine, Ellie Goulding and Arcade Fire. Catch up on the previous Production Notes comment from Chris Kansy here.
IQ: What was the last tour you did before the pandemic took effect in 2020?
RT: I was in Australia with Freya Ridings, and the fear of the pandemic was definitely bubbling. After our second show, in Melbourne on 12 March, we knew we had to get everybody home. We got back and they shut the Australian border shortly after – the timing was so tight.
How has lockdown treated you?
My partner and I moved to the Scottish borders and it’s a beautiful part of the world. I’ve been on tour for 20 years and this is the longest I’ve been at home. There are parts of this that are really positive. There were so many years where I decided to have a quiet year but was then offered an amazing opportunity I couldn’t turn down, so the enforced downtime has definitely had positives. But enough already… can we please get back to work now?
During lockdown you joined the newly formed Touring Production Group (TPG). Can you tell us more about that?
TPG started as weekly Zooms with production and tour managers (organised and chaired by Wob Roberts) getting together to produce a document on how we might tour post-Covid. It developed into something bigger and subgroups were formed in sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion; and mental welfare and personal wellbeing.
I really hope when we finally get back on the road that we can actually put [TPG’s] ideas into practice and make a difference
We have now opened up membership and have had a great response from people keen to make positive changes in touring. It’s important that people in this sector support each other and share knowledge and values and ideas about how we can make the industry a better place to be. I really hope when we finally get back on the road that we can actually put these ideas into practice and make a difference.
In which areas of touring do you hope TPG will make an impact?
Hopefully, in all of the areas we are working on. For example, sustainability. If we’re all asking venues for certain things to make the industry greener, hopefully it’ll become the norm to provide them. I think a lot of these changes have to come from the artist and then it’ll just become a part of what we have to do – it’ll be normal to say “we’re not going to do that trip” or “we’ll offset that trip.”
We’ve also spoken to agents about routing tours in a greener way, asking that they don’t make us double back on ourselves, but we have to be realistic – post-Covid tour routing will be a challenge for agents. We’ve spoken about sustainability all this time; we have to start now and at least implement small changes and keep the discussions going even when we’re back to work.
We can’t just jump straight back on a bus and do 18-hour days. We’re not match fit
Have you had any revelations about the way the touring industry operates?
There have been a lot of revelations about the madness of zipping all over the world; moving in ten trucks’ worth of equipment, setting it up for a show and then putting it back in the trucks and moving it to the next place. Perhaps we will see bands adopt a more simple stage set-up, rather than lugging around all these bells and whistles. Also, Covid-wise, are we going to want to have 14 or 16 people on a tour bus? Maybe things will be scaled down a bit when we return.
Has the enforced downtime put into perspective just how demanding your job is?
Yes. It would be ideal to perhaps do a little less touring and maybe not take 18 months of solid work at a time. We do long hours on the road – you might get up at six in the morning and might not get back into the bunk until 3 am, and you’re going to do that three times in a row before you have a day off and can collapse in a heap.
In the TPG’s mental health and welfare chats, we’re discussing how to make that better, especially because we’ve just had completely different lives throughout the pandemic. We can’t just jump straight back on a bus and do 18-hour days. We’re not match fit. I think, in terms of all these things like mental health and sustainability, it’s about gently easing ourselves back into this. Baby steps.
Turning adversity into opportunity
Every year, one in five people in the UK experience mental health issues, and in a year like no other, mental health has become an even greater issue. With the music business facing such uncertainty, people are struggling, many of whom have never experienced these issues before.
In our industry, discussing the topic of one’s own mental health can be seen as a weakness. But in spite of recent years being the most challenging of my life, today I am mentally the strongest I have ever been. By offering insight into my own experiences, I hope it may help those who are struggling and can’t see a way forward right now.
I joined the Agency Group in 2013 with no roster and limited connections. I worked tirelessly to sign artists and network, going to gigs every night, taking every meeting I could, and attending every possible industry event. I loved it. However, sometimes we can get lost in the pursuit of our ambitions, and eventually my health was affected. At the start of 2016, I was hospitalised with GERD, acid leaking from my stomach, and forced to work from home.
I realised that I was doing what I loved and had to fight my way back, just as I had fought my way in
I was due to return to the office on 15 February, after a trip to Sweden for Where’s the Music. In a heartbreaking turn of events, my clients Viola Beach and their manager, Craig Tarry, died in a tragic accident a few hours after performing at the festival. Nothing could have prepared me for the situations I would face in the aftermath while struggling to grieve for each of the five men, whom I called friends. I tried to give as much comfort as possible to their families, and it wasn’t until later that I realised the effect it all had on me.
A few weeks after the accident, my mum became ill and two close personal friends also suddenly passed. The combined pressure of my work, home and personal life being in turmoil, without a support network, made me feel very isolated and lonely.
I have never been one to ask for help, and in those moments, I wasn’t sure how. I believe there were people who wanted to help, but I don’t think they knew how either.
Over the next two years, I became despondent, paranoid, irrational and short tempered. I fell out with people. I stopped doing things I loved. I was miserable.
Changes were needed, but as I started to make positive steps, I had a huge setback. A few weeks after leaving a previous agency, I watched helplessly as my roster started to appear on other agencies’ websites. The phrase, “if you want loyalty, get a dog’’, is synonymous with our industry, and every agent and promoter knows the feeling of frustration and powerlessness when losing a client. I had been incredibly proud of my client retention rate and losing nearly my entire roster in a short space of time was tremendously painful. But I used the fact that I never had the urge to quit as motivation. I realised that I was doing what I loved and had to fight my way back, just as I had fought my way in.
I opened up to friends and loved ones, and with their support, put my energy into making small steps each day. Ben Kouijzer, a friend and colleague, reinvigorated my passion for reading by suggesting (audio) books that opened my mind to the importance of sleep, exercise, and health. These, in turn, contributed to positive thinking, understanding gratitude and goal-setting.
If you are reading this and are finding things difficult, understand that you are not alone
I devoured books on the history of the entertainment business and read everything that I could. This learning gave me the foundation to grow, understanding that change is inevitable, and that everyone experiences setbacks and knockdowns. It’s not about why something is happening, but about how you react.
I took this knowledge and invested in myself. I set short-, medium- and long-term goals, created healthy routines, exercised, visualised my future, and made time for doing things I love, including the one passion that never left – live music!
Starting my own agency, MBA Live, has given me the freedom to grow and service my clients on my terms, cultivating my own passion. I’m grateful to the artists and managers that trust me to deliver, the promoters that always take my calls, and to my wife, Polly, whose support has given me the foundation to create and build a profitable business, even within the difficulties of the global pandemic.
If you are reading this and are finding things difficult, understand that you are not alone. It isn’t a weakness to ask for help – it takes strength to start the conversation. Everyone is different but the most important thing is to seek professional help.
I’m encouraged by the efforts being made by people in power to make a positive change to ensure there is support for people when they need it and, more importantly, to identify issues and offer help before it’s needed.
It’s not always easy to ask for help. If you see someone whom you think is struggling or acting out of character, then reach out and check in with them. It will mean more than you think.
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 MBW, Hits, 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.
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.
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.
Beatport to host 24+ hour festival for mental health
Beatport, the online music store for electronic music, is hosting a 24+ hour virtual music festival in support of mental health, featuring DJ sets alongside talks, panels and workshops led by experts in the field.
#YouAreNotAlone will feature sets from DJs including Adam Beyer, Boys Noize and Yousef, livestreamed on Beatport’s Twitch channel this Saturday (7 November) at 7 pm PT.
The event is in collaboration with non-profit mental health organisation When the Music Stops and wellness tech company Silentmode, whose founder Bradley Young will host discussions on mental health and the power of music as a preventative solution.
Also appearing at the festival is Breathonics composer and sleep coach, Tom Middleton; psychotherapist Dr Aida Vazin; leading breathwork expert Stuart Sandeman; artists and mental health advocates Ceri and Rebekah; DJ Sacha Robotti and others.
“Mental health has been one of the most talked-about topics in our industry for years and should continue to be destigmatised”
“These are trying times for our industry. Now more than ever taking care of ourselves, our minds, our wellbeing, and the wellbeing of others, is truly vital,” says Beatport’s CEO, Robb McDaniels.
“Mental health has been one of the most talked-about topics in our industry for years, and this is a global topic that should continue to be discussed and destigmatised. Everyone at Beatport takes this topic very seriously and will continue to bring visibility to it.”
Alongside the DJ sets and panels, participants can also attend a Breathonics Live Session with breathwork expert Stuart Sandeman or chill out in the Breathonics room, which will feature a loop of sleep tracks curated by Silentmode.
“With loneliness, depression, and suicide on the rise, Beatport is becoming a leader in normalising these conversations. When The Music Stops is honoured to collaborate on such a powerful initiative. These issues affect all races and all religions. Together we can make an impact and let people know ‘You Are Not Alone’,” says Joshua Donaldson, founder of When The Music Stops.
IFF puts finishing touches to biggest programme yet
The Interactive Festival Forum (iFF) has announced two Soapbox Sessions panels for the event taking place on 2 and 3 September.
The first 55-minute session will invite five industry experts to deliver quick-fire presentations on a range of specialist topics including agency roster analysis, socially distanced events and mental health.
Soapbox Sessions: Five in 55 will see ROSTR co-founder and CEO, Mark Williamson, present highlights from an analysis of 650+ agency rosters with ROSTR: The Agency World in Numbers.
Tim O’Brien – professor at Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester (the site of AIF member festival Bluedot) – will reprise a much-loved talk from a previous AIF Festival Congress with AIF presents: Sounds of Space.
Geoff Dixon will present exclusive new research on festivalgoers’ confidence about returning to live events over the next 12 months
In Soapbox Session Covid-19: You Are Here, Dr Mark Salter, consultant for global health at Public Health England, will update delegates on the latest international developments in the fight against Covid-19, including the search for a vaccine, as well as how public health authorities are planning for the months ahead.
Finally, Getting Back to Work: The Fan’s Perspective Vivid Interface will hear Geoff Dixon present exclusive new research on festivalgoers’ confidence about returning to live events over the next 12 months.
Another new addition to the conference schedule is The Lost Causes, a series of presentations from specialists covering diversity, accessibility, and mental health and welfare.
Attitude Is Everything‘s Gideon Feldman will deliver Accessibility: Building Back Better, Keychange‘s Francine Gorman will present Equality: Representation Matters and festival booker-turned-psychotherapist Tamsin Embleton will educate delegates on Mental Health: Minding the Gap.
Today’s announcement follows the news that CAA board member and London co-head Emma Banks, Paradigm’s head of global music, Marty Diamond, and FKP Scorpio MD Folkert Koopmans are joining the conference.
With just over one week to go until iFF, and with passes increasing in price on 1 September, secure your place and save money by registering here. Tickets are still just £50 inc. ALL fees.
Shifting positions: Surviving the industry shutdown
Our work, by its very nature, is outward facing, created for the enjoyment of third parties. Any idea, any urge to create and develop is based on the way we will deliver it for the consumption by people we don’t personally know.
We all see the world as one big land for producing events. In order to be satisfied with our day or project, we need a few thousand eyes to give us approval first. In the end, the outer world dictates our delivery. Everything we do, everything we deliver, show, explain, sell, design, collect or announce is for the benefit of others.
On one hand, it sounds very noble. But, on the other, it is massively hard work for our ego and self-esteem. From a very young age, we face competitiveness, as in this industry no one cares how old you are or where are you come from. Anyone who hasn’t gained approval of their work from the very beginning, eventually will agree that they got stuck in the endless “comparison loop”, or at least, started accepting compliments as given to the product or artist they are representing, and not the person behind with all the work.
As a result, all of us grow and communicate based on adrenaline.
Adrenaline as fuel
We all have our unique ways of producing, communicating and forward planning, but nothing is ever 100% certain. That gap between what we manage to predict and reality is what creates the adrenaline. The difference between our industry and others, is that this degree of uncertainty is so prevalent that no amount of cooperation or experience – no matter how many times it is repeated or copied – can ever ensure anything turns out the same way twice. So it is easy to feed the adrenaline.
Through the adrenaline filter – craving to be the first informed, the first to know about a new tour, a new deal, a new project – we manage to navigate obstacles and overcome challenges, even if we have not seen them before. Why? Because of something bigger than any emotion, bigger than anger, disappointment, joy or sadness: gut feeling.
If you are one of those people who, when faced with an inbox filled with dozens of emails after just a three- or four-hour flight, your first urge is to smash up your laptop, you’ve probably done so over the past few months.
Knowing no-one is waiting for your reply and the sudden disappearance of any pressure to deliver is very hard for an adrenaline junkie
If you are one of those who tends to leave the work for the following day in the office, good for you! Or maybe, you are one of those who plans the rest of the day and night around finding a cosy place to work and while the hours away in a sea of emails.
Either way, none of these scenarios are relevant if you do not have any unread emails. If you don’t have any, you don’t have to plan what to do with them and arrange your hours by that.
Then all you have is yourself – no-one expects anything from you and no-one is waiting for your answer.
Pressure as a habit
Knowing no-one is waiting for your reply and the sudden disappearance of any pressure to deliver is very hard for an adrenaline junkie. As is the nature of this industry, even if you don’t have a NEED for the pressure, it becomes a habit just like anything else.
For some, the removal of this habit of being under pressure is immediately substituted with another pressure-inducing task, that the person will assign for themselves and consume on a daily basis, to keep nurturing the pressure – routine in a new form.
Others jump into a new world, based on consuming new information, nurturing mental health and spirituality and looking at the world as a huge playground. Others just turn off completely. You can find yourself among any one of these fractions, or maybe somewhere in-between.
Turning to a physical activity or challenge works directly to train your ability to deal with pressure.
This kind of pressure fuels a variety of feelings in us and is a very healthy form of motivation. Physical challenges develop discipline, while maintaining the satisfaction of the strength we need to use on a daily basis to push our boundaries and raise our performance. Perhaps most importantly, the results are visible and depend on consistent, long-term effort, just like our event production work.
This industry is still our most vivid and clear form of exchange, so be an active part of it and add value
Focusing on research, turning to self-improvement and learning new skills is another very useful form of pressure. There is a thin line here, though, where you might find yourself stepping away from responsibilities, losing the habit of working hard and forgetting to nurture and feed the discipline you strived so hard to gain.
Playing dead and being ignorant may deliver happy thoughts, but it takes out years and years of hard work just overnight.
Wherever you find yourself, the industry does not own you, but you do leave a trace of yourself within it. This industry is still our most vivid and clear form of exchange, so be an active part of it and add value, as we continue with the unique journey we face right now.
Making friends with the enemy
We are in this together, like never before.
This means that you and your competitor are on the same team. You have not spent months in the same, stagnant situation because your competition is working harder or better then you. No-one is any more clued up than anyone else.
This is why it is so important to nurture useful ways, both for the individual and the collective, to exercise and invest in our two most essential assets right now: creativity and forward planning.
When the curtain goes up, you better be ready if you are planning on sticking around in the live industry. But, until then, there is no point in comparing yourself with anyone else. To focus on yourself is the natural thing to do. There is no better investment.
Starting from our personal decisions, we are now at a crossroads where we can choose how to reframe the industry to make it stronger and more adaptable than ever before.
Lina Ugrinovska is an international booker for Macedonia’s Password Production and the founder of the Mental Health Care in the Music Industry initiative.