TM Suzi Green launches free workshops ahead of touring return
Tour manager and health and wellbeing specialist Suzi Green has commissioned a series of resilience workshops for the international live music industry as the touring sector begins its transition back into the demands of event production.
The three free sessions, Mindfulness for Touring with Craig Ali, Healthy Boundaries with Laura Ferguson and Sleep & Jet Lag with Matt Kansy, take place on Monday 21 June, Wednesday 14 July and Wednesday 4 August, respectively. The workshops will explore a range of topics, from coping strategies for dealing with ‘heated’ moments in high-pressure situations to how to wind down naturally at the end of an intense day, rate negotiation, managing workload and effective communication, maximising the quality of your sleep and techniques to combat jet lag and shift work.
The workshops were made possible through the Culture Recovery Fund and are designed for freelance touring community, though they are open to all music professionals.
“We will all need to take our health seriously to survive long periods during busy touring schedules in the future”
A seasoned tour manager, having worked with clients including Placebo, PJ Harvey, Katie Melua and Wolf Alice, Green experienced her own debilitating episode of burn-out and left touring for a decade. “I thought my touring days were over. The industry simply didn’t work for me,” she recalls.
Since retraining in various modalities, she later returned to touring with new skills in wellbeing to the benefit of artists and crew.
“People now have the opportunity to learn how to develop better coping strategies,” says Green. “We will all need to take our health seriously to survive long periods during busy touring schedules in the future.”
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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@example.com.
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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Study: 78 minutes of music a day aids wellbeing
A new study into the therapeutic benefits of music has recommended listening to a minimum of 78 minutes of music a day, in order to maintain a healthy mind and body.
Conducted by the British Academy of Sound Therapy (Bast) and music streaming platform Deezer, the study analysed how people use music to process emotions.
Of the over 7,500 people studied, 90% said they use music to help them relax and 82% listen to music to feel happy. Almost half of respondents saw music as a way of overcoming sadness, with 28% also using music as a way to manage anger. A third of participants found music enhances their levels of concentration.
The study found that the therapeutic benefits of music become evident after 11 minutes of listening. In the case of happiness, listeners need only wait five minutes to reap the emotional rewards of a song.
“Dedicating time each day to listen to music that triggers different emotions can have a hugely beneficial impact on our wellbeing,” comments Bast founder Lyz Cooper. “Listening to happy songs increases blood flow to areas of the brain associated with reward, and decreases flow to the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fear.”
The Bast- and Deezer-led study found that pop music was most likely to induce feeling of happiness, with songs by Pharrell Williams (‘Happy’), Ariana Grande (‘God is a woman’), Ed Sheeran (‘Sing’) and Little Mix (‘Salute’), as well as classics by Abba (‘Dancing Queen’), Bob Marley (‘Jammin’) and Queen (‘Don’t Stop Me Now’) favoured by respondents.
“Dedicating time each day to listen to music that triggers different emotions can have a hugely beneficial impact on our wellbeing”
Classical music by Beethoven, Pachelbel, Mozart and Bocelli was deemed the most relaxing and the best for concentration. Songs by Simon and Garfunkel, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac also slipped into the relaxation category, with Pink and Jean-Michel Jarre featuring on the best-for-concentration list.
Rock and metal were the genres of choice for listeners wishing to combat anger, with tracks by AC/DC (‘Highway to Hell’), Rammstein (‘Du Hast’), Metallica (‘Enter Sandman’), Linkin Park (In the End’) and Nirvana (‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’) named by participants.
Elton John, Bon Jovi, Bob Marley, Christina Aguilera, Johnny Cash, Queen, Whitney Houston and Leonard Cohen were found to be the favourite artists for listeners overcoming sadness.
“Music influences our lives and at Deezer we try to understand and embrace the relationship that people have with their favourite tunes,” says Frederic Anteime, vice president of content and productions at Deezer.
“Now we’ve been able to go even deeper into that relationship and see how people use music to manage different mental states. The results offer an idea for how music can be used to manage our emotional and mental health on a daily basis, especially when you have a wide library at your fingertips.”
Deezer has created five playlists based on the results of the study with the recommended breakdown of different music style and genres for a ‘balanced’ musical intake.
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Paradigm’s Tom Schroeder: Captain of industry
Spend any amount of time with Tom Schroeder and you cannot help but be impressed by his cerebral dissection of the music industry and his ability to sniff out opportunities and identify changes, big and small, that can be made to improve the work/life balance for staff at Paradigm, and, crucially, the artists that they represent.
“A lot of people are shocked to hear millennials demanding a different kind of lifestyle but at Paradigm we are approaching that in another way – maybe it’s the millennials who have got the work/life balance right and we should be learning from them,” he notes at one point, when musing on how ridiculously all-consuming the business can easily become.
That empathetic, open-minded attitude was prevalent at Coda and remains evident to anyone visiting the now Paradigm UK offices in central London, where the company’s 100-plus employees enjoy a progressive environment that is a pleasure to conduct business in. But that’s a far cry from Schroeder’s own early career experiences when he admits to overworking to the extent that he is still recovering to this day.
“For the first five years as an agent, I didn’t have a holiday and I think it’s taken an additional 15 years to unpick the damage that did to me,” he says. “Stress is a very real issue as an agent and in an agency. For sure many of us are in a privileged position, but that doesn’t mean you don’t feel the pressure. We have seen it at all levels of the company, and are now taking a very proactive approach to dealing with it and preventing it impacting on everyone’s well-being.”
Towing the line
That caring side to Tom’s nature is, perhaps, inherited as his mother was a social worker before going on to become the head of education for the London borough of Camden, earning a CBE for her efforts.
“For the first five years as an agent, I didn’t have a holiday and I think it’s taken an additional 15 years to unpick the damage that did to me”
Born in West London, Tom grew up in a sailing family and was a sporty child. “I wasn’t into music much at school, but I competed at national and international level as a windsurfer,” he reveals. That all ended at 17, “when I inevitably discovered the things that we all do as teenagers…”
Faced with a common teenage choice, Tom somewhat followed in his mum’s footsteps by opting to study sociology at university although as his dad worked for Guinness, he also significantly contributed to that side of family lineage during his years at the University of Nottingham.
“Most 19 year olds need a few years to work out who they are, and that’s definitely what university gave me,” he says. “Meeting people from all walks of life was really important, and I’m still friends with a lot of them. But I horsed around and probably got the lowest 2:1 in Nottingham University history because they felt sorry for me.”
He admits, “When I arrived in Nottingham, I thought about how I could become the cool kid on campus. That’s why I decided, with friends, to put on some gigs. Fortunately, for us, there was this very cool Scottish guy, James Bailey, who ran one of the city’s best clubs, The Bomb. He took a chance on us, so we put on Thursday- and Friday-night residencies and we’d go hall to hall in the university, selling tickets.”
Those early residencies also introduced him to someone who he was initially wary of but who would become his mentor and one of his closest friends. “We had a jungle night and Alex Hardee at MPI repped a few acts we wanted to book,” says Schroeder. “Alex had a bit of a reputation, so when we wanted to book DJ Krust, or whoever it was, we ended up getting really stoned and pulling straws to decide who would make the phone call. And, of course, I pulled the short straw.
“My mates warned me it would be too much about business and not about the music. But I ignored them, thank goodness”
“When I called him, he was on another call: ‘Tom, just hold for a minute,’ he said, before on the other line shouting,‘Listen, you Welsh cunt, if I find out where you live, I’ll come and burn your fucking house down.’And then I booked the act with him. That was my first experience of Alex Hardee.”
Knowing that he wanted to pursue some kind of career in music, Schroeder spent a summer in California, where a cousin owned a recording studio. “I tried making dance music but I realised I was nowhere near good enough: proper musicians were at a different level. So I came back to the UK and started thinking about the companies I’d potentially like to work with.”
Dance music’s loss was definitely the agency world’s gain – and one company in particular. “It was a Tuesday morning,” says Tom. “I sent a speculative email to MPI, asking if they had any jobs. By a massive coincidence, Phil Banfield had called a staff meeting that same day where he announced that he wanted to find a young, motivated kid to look for and sign new talent. My timing was perfect.”
What wasn’t perfect was the resulting job interview. “In the room were Phil, Alex, Cris [Hearn] and Gemma [Peppé]. Within a couple of minutes, Alex said he had emails to check and walked out. Cris did the same about a minute later, followed quickly by Gemma. So I thought I’d blown it.”
However, Tom exploited the one-on-one situation to learn about the business and spent the next 90 minutes quizzing Banfield. His enthusiasm struck a chord, and a few days later, he was offered a job. “My mates warned me it would be too much about business and not about the music. But I ignored them, thank goodness, as 20 years later I’m still at the same company, albeit after a couple of name changes.”
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Call for support for Music At Work Week
Author and academic Dr Julia Jones has issued a call to businesses around the world to back the Music At Work Week campaign, which aims to encourage employees to listen to music in the workplace to improve health.
Music At Work Week hopes to enhance wellbeing and mental health among workers, after studies proved a daily diet of music can assist the brain and body, improving productivity.
Dr Jones, known as ‘Doctor Rock’, came up with the campaign concept while writing her new book, The Music Diet, which identifies music as a key factor in mental and physical health.
Found In Music director Dr Jones, who has worked with Olympic teams, the NHS, governmental bodies and major brands, has been prescribing music for personal and business health for over 20 years. She explains: “The science shows that purposeful use of music playlists and headphones can help people focus to get more work done in less time.
“Purposeful use of music playlists and headphones can help people focus to get more work done in less time”
“The science also shows that music in non-focus workplaces such as reception areas and kitchen areas can produce a more relaxing environment to ease stress.
“We have drawn up a charter for employers to adopt and in November we want as many businesses as possible to support Music At Work Week internationally. This is a serious issue and costs employers and the economy billions of pounds a year.
“Technology has had massive effects on the working environment and health. We want to spark a workplace transformation revolution.”
Music At Work Week will take place between 25 November and 1 December 2019.
Wellbeing festival expands in second year
Getahead Festival is a 24-hour non-stop event in London with a focus on mental and physical wellbeing, productivity and entertainment. Now in its second year, it’s expanding to take over two venues in London Bridge – Omeara and the Ministry – for a 6am–6am programme including yoga, fitness, meditation, massages, talks and panels, workshops, comedy and live music.
Taking place on 14–15 June, panel topics include how to get a good night’s sleep, handling mental health in the workplace, and building resilience. Among performers in the evening are Subsoul, Melody Kane, Carly Wilford and Hutch, plus there’s a multisensory experience and performance organised by Tom Middleton. Participants can pop in and out as often as they like, or can stay for the whole 24-hour event.
There’s been strong support for the event from artists, many of whom donated tracks for a drum’n’bass album put together last year by Ben Verse from Pendulum. Money raised went to Music Minds Matter, a 24-hour helpline for people working in the music industry. Artists who donated tracks include Chase & Status, the Prodigy, Spor and Sub Focus.
Max Owen, better known as drum’n’bass MC Linguistics, has been involved with the festival since last year. With the live music business increasingly focusing on wellbeing, Owen is a passionate supporter of more help for people dealing with mental health problems.
“For most of my adult life I’ve lived with anxiety and depression, and for most of that time I’d been able to keep it to a copeable level,” says Owen. “However, working in the music industry as a touring artist, travelling all over the world for most of my 20s, this became increasingly harder to manage with the lifestyle I was living: a lot of late nights and early mornings and non-stop partying all took their toll, and eventually my body and mind said ‘no more’ and life became impossible to bear.
“The idea behind Getahead has always been to grow year on year and become a SXSW of mental health and wellbeing festivals”
“I decided I needed to get some help so I turned to friends and family, told them what was going on and was lucky enough to get the help I needed in time. One major thing that experience taught me is that simply being able to talk about how I was feeling was a huge help.
“So since then I’ve always tried to be as open about my mental health as possible in the hope it might help others to do the same. So at the beginning of 2018 when a long-time friend and one of the founders of Getahead, Jenni Cochrane, approached me with this idea of a festival that encourages people to share their experience, reduce stigma and ultimately save lives, it was a no-brainer for me.”
Tickets are £10 for a day or evening pass and £15 for the full 24 hours.
“The idea behind Getahead has always been to grow year on year and become a SXSW of mental health and wellbeing festivals,” adds Owen. “We already have people travelling in from all over Europe, even from as far as Canada and the US, which is a beautiful thing.
“I think that shows just how much our message, what we’re trying to do, and most importantly the way we’re trying to do it, resonates around the world.”
Launch of UK arts collective to promote wellbeing
The Royal Albert Hall has hosted the first meeting of a new collective dedicated to promoting wellbeing and mental health in the arts industries.
The newly formed UK National Arts Wellbeing Collective (UK NAWC), based on an initiative established by Arts Centre Melbourne, brings together more than 60 arts institutions from around the UK, including music venues, touring companies, unions, theatres and museums.
UK NAWC’s launch event at the Royal Albert Hall included talks from experts alongside networking and mindfulness sessions.
Those attending were also invited to suggest what changes and innovations are needed within the industry and what form the group itself should take.
“We were proud to host the launch of what promises to be a very positive and significant initiative, drawing together colleagues from many arts organisations, all committed to opening up the conversation around mental health and improving wellbeing support across what can be a highly pressurised industry,” says Royal Albert Hall chief executive Craig Hassall.
“We were proud to host the launch of what promises to be a very positive and significant initiative”
The collective is picking up the challenge set by the chief executive of the Arts Centre Melbourne, Claire Spencer, who called on arts institutions in other countries to do more to tackle mental health issues.
The Arts Wellbeing Collective in Australia, which Spencer has helped to pioneer, is mentoring the UK group as it aims to emulate that success.
Discussing health and wellbeing in the live industry at this year’s International Live Music Conference, industry experts referenced the isolating nature of mental health issues and stressed the need for an industry-wide, collaborative effort.
The UK’s Mental Health Awareness Week, hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, is ongoing this week (13 to 19 May), aiming to destigmatise and draw attention to mental health issues and inspire action.
Backstage theatre staff working to “breaking point”
Industry bodies and workers’ unions have warned that backstage theatre workers are being “pushed to breaking point” due to a lack of work-life balance, with workers often expected to work 15-hour days.
UK trade unions BECTU and Equity, along with professional associations for stage managers and lighting and sound practitioners, have argued that “excessively long working hours” are leading to “burnout and serious mental health issues”.
Chair of the Association of Lighting Designers, Johanna Town, raised concerns stating that an “expectation to work under intense pressure for periods of 15 to 18 hours per day, six days per week” is standard for theatre production workers.
BECTU, the UK’s media and entertainment trade union, recently launched a set of standards for the live events industry to combat such issues and fight for better working conditions for its members, ensuring reasonable working hours, sufficient breaks and the development of fair and consistent payment rates.
Helen Ryan, assistant national secretary at BECTU, says that a “long-hours culture” affects all backstage roles, indicating how low wages and high expectations were driving production staff to work unreasonable hours.
“We just want to make sure things are done sensibly – all this guidance needs to do is promote good sense”
The effects that long working hours and inadequate rest exerts on production staff was a topic of discussion at this year’s ILMC Production Meeting (IPM).
A panel of industry experts and healthcare professionals stressed the need for change and suggested IPM members create a “guideline document” to outline good working practices and implement a standardised framework for working conditions and staff treatment.
“We’ve received a lot of interest for an IPM welfare project within the production industry, and even from promoters and venues,” venue consultant and chair of the IPM Advisory Group, Carl A H Martin, tells IQ. “Now people want to take action, and importantly they want to do so internationally.”
Martin noted that the shipping and oil and gas industries have such guidelines, laying out standards to be followed industry-wide, “so we need to do the same”.
“We just want to make sure things are done sensibly – all this guidance needs to do is promote good sense,” adds Martin.
Futures Forum: Health and wellbeing in live
Jana Watkins, head of human resources at Live Nation, spoke of her passion for promoting wellbeing within the business, admitting that “the environment in our industry isn’t particularly conducive to leading a healthy lifestyle.”
Director of Killing Moon, Achal Dhillon, echoed this sentiment saying that the industry encourages “certain types of behaviour” that are detrimental to mental and physical wellbeing. The fact that this behaviour is aspired to, or deemed necessary for success, “exacerbates conditions if people have a predisposition to mental illness, or even creates them,” said Dhillon.
Fiona McGugan of Music Managers Forum spoke of the importance of disclosure, and engaging with men directly on this specifically.
Tristan Hunt from the Association for Electronic Music referenced the recent passing of Prodigy’s Keith Flint and Tim Bergling (Avicii), highlighting the continuing prevalence of mental health problems in live music, despite growing awareness of issues.
Jenni Cochrane, director of culture and partnerships at AEI Group spoke of the “excess and problems” which success entails for young artists.
Watkins then asked panellists for their top tips for maintaining health and wellbeing. “Switching off – literally,” said Dhillon, speaking of the ever-present working environment within music.
“The environment in our industry isn’t particularly conducive to leading a healthy lifestyle”
McGugan referenced the isolating nature of mental health issues and spoke of the importance of being able to admit issues openly and talk about them with others. Hunt agreed with this, “the more we have this conversation, the more it destigmatises the issue,” he said.
Hunt and Cochrane then discussed the danger of phones, email and social media, stressing the need to take time out to cleanse the mind. Both recommended using night mode to limit exposure to blue light and of vastly reducing screen time, especially before bed and in the morning.
“Sleep is the foundation of everything to do with your mental and physical health,” said Cochrane. “Give yourself some quiet headspace, you deserve it.”
Substance abuse, and the industry’s enablement of it, was the next topic of discussion. Dhillon spoke of the tendency towards glamourising artists’ addictions and the ease of access to narcotics.
McGugan agreed that the industry needed to focus on its duty of care towards artists, whereas Hunt said the prevalence of drug use and abuse was symptomatic of a wider set of problems. “We do have an exploitative industry,” admitted Hunt, speaking of the focus on financial gain over wellbeing.
“We need to call people out and it has to be a collaborative effort,” he said.