I have not mentioned it on here yet, but this blog is my senior project. Here I will combine my own passions with the knowledge that I have gained over the past four years of college to produce a project that encompasses my experience as a student in my major. While I brainstormed ideas, solidified a topic, and began researching, I spoke with professors on numerous occasions about my project topic: Mental Health and the Touring Industry. I spoke with them, they spoke with me. I listened and noted down their insights.
There were two notable similarities amongst all the responses I received from my professors: one, that my topic was unique and relevant and, two, that the touring industry is the last place you want to be if you care about your mental health. Encouraging, right?
“What mental health?”
“Touring really screws people up.”
“No one tours because they want to…”
My professors definitely gave valuable advice and insights into the industry that have helped immensely as I have worked on this project. However, their first reactions were not exactly what I had expected.
As a wise man once said, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.” There are artists that love to tour, artists that hate to tour and everyone in between. However, it was obvious that the music industry was well aware that touring could have a major negative impact on the mental health of artists but it also seemed to be a well accepted reality. As if being an artist meant that you had to put your mental health on the line.
It is a reality that touring is the money-making part of the industry, especially with the move away from CDs and towards music streaming. This means that it is basically essential for artists to tour in order to grow their career and pay their bills. Now that touring isn’t really optional, why have we let it continue to be a dangerous environment for mental health?
The biggest factors to improving environments is awareness and education. Obviously, the music industry is aware of the potential negative effects that touring can have on artists’ mental health; however, I think the industry (and society) lacks the education to understand the issue and make changes towards improving the industry. Our mental health is vastly important and majorly impacts our ability to be productive and produce quality work. Artists have a job to do while their on tour and mental health struggles can have significant impacts on their ability to complete that job.
There are things that we can do improve the quality of life on tour and provide a safer environment for artists mental health. Educating industry professionals, from artists to labels, will create a better understanding across the board of what mental health is and how to care for it. We can train managers in Mental Health First Aid so that they will know how to effectively speak to someone in a mental health crisis and know resources that they can provide for them.
I will go more in-depth into changes that can be made in another post, but the point I would like to make is this: we cannot just accept this reality for the touring industry. Music industry professionals are already aware of the situation but there is a misconception that there is nothing that we can do about it. This acceptance of an unhealthy reality will continue to negatively affect our artists until changes are made, and changes can be made.