Tv camera in a concert hall

When things started to get tough we were able to offer mental health support 

Starting out in the music industry 

From the outside, a job in the music industry can look like it’s all parties and gigs, but the reality can be far from it, with long hours and high targets. 

This is one person’s story of their experience of landing their dream job and how Help Musicians were able to provide support when the day-to-day reality didn’t meet their expectations and things started to spiral. 

I’ve been playing music since I was 13 years old and started out as a guitar player. After college, I had no idea what I wanted to do but knew it had to involve music. I was in a band that were doing quite well around the Southeast at the time but I was also interested in the business side of things.

I pursued a business degree and at the end of it walked straight into the music industry when I was 21 years old. I’ve gone through a lot of peaks and troughs during that time – it’s been a rollercoaster. I no longer work in music as my day job but still play the guitar regularly as a creative outlet.

Problems begin to appear 

Around 2017 I started having a tough time. I found in the music industry there can be a 24/7 workaholic attitude where you’re expected to be available constantly. I developed an unhealthy habit with my phone because I’d be using it all the time. It got to the point where I would just switch it off on the weekend because I knew someone would be contacting me from work. I became very insular and didn’t talk to anyone. At the weekend I just wanted to hide in a dark room and hope Monday never came.

I remember it was seen as a privilege that I worked in the music industry. I’d tell mates about my job and they’d say how great it sounded so I convinced myself I shouldn’t feel bad. I was trying to tell myself that I had an amazing opportunity but at the end of the day, it wasn’t doing any good for me because I was constantly stressed out and worried.

I even had a romantic relationship break down because of these problems. Where’s the balance between work and personal life? As creatives, we are emotionally invested in what we do and are passionate about music but boundaries need to be respected more not just in the music industry, but a lot of workplaces.

Getting in touch with Help Musicians 

Things came to a head in 2018. I was very unhappy in my role at that time and felt I was being mistreated in my company.

One day I was at an industry event and I saw a Help Musicians stand. I’d thought about talking to the charity before, but I had experience of backstabbing and people running the bus over others in the industry. I didn’t want to go to the charity and ask for help for fear of someone saying, you’re slagging the company off”.

But at this point I knew how badly I needed help, so I went to the stand at the end of the day when no one was around. I spoke to a lovely lady who worked for the charity and just completely broke down. She took me to one side for a long chat and gave me loads of advice and literature to look through.

I ended up calling Help Musicians’ helpline and was able to work through the problems I was facing, as well as receiving other leaflets from the charity. That was me at my lowest ebb but it was through those handouts and counselling calls that I slowly managed to find a route out of the depression and anxiety I was suffering from.

Advice for reaching out 

If you work in the music industry and are struggling with anything like I was, be it depression, anxiety, inability to work, stress, bereavement, you must get in touch with Help Musicians. Remember there is support out there for people who work in the industry and not just musicians — sometimes the people behind the scenes can be forgotten about.

The support that Help Musicians provide is essential and second to none. As a society we are slowly getting over the mental health stigma of asking for help. It can be tough taking the first step but that really is the most important one.