MIND OVER MUSIC - Emotional wellness in the music business

The music business has largely consisted of two elements – the creative aspect and the business side. In order to have a fair shot at success, there is much pressure not only to put out good songs, but to have a mandatory strong sense of business acumen. What has been put on the back burner is the third aspect – the wellness side. By that, I am mainly talking about emotional wellbeing.

Being a serious player in the music business is stressful to say the least. There are literally millions of musicians and bands trying to stake their claim and get recognition from mass audiences including the business executives who are able to open doors and push them into the realm of lucrative and financially fulfilling careers. Not only is there pressure to fight for the piece of the pie in the big picture, there is also the pressure to make ends meet in day-to-day life. For a musician to really have a good shot at going places, there should not be a plan B and something to fall back on – this encourages complacency – but the music should be the 100% focus and commitment of the artist. It really is a full-time job needing a lot more than 40 hours a week! This, of course, comes with huge pressure attached. We all have bills to pay at the end of the day. Financial stress is proven to be a huge factor in mental health problems across the board in many professions in the creative industry.

Another trigger that unsettles emotions is that of disappointment. Be it not getting a single playlisted on radio or Spotify, not filling up a venue, sending out a news release with no pick up and not having emails responded to by high flying executives. It is imperative that you get into the right frame of mind and not let these disappointments mess with your mojo. Easier said than done, I know. But you are not alone in getting “rejected” in the music business – dozens of your talented peers are in the same boat.

What you need to understand is that in most cases, being rejected is not an indication of the quality of your music or the effort you have put in. There are so many external factors that could pop up as barriers – a breaking news story, an international release of the new Bieber tune (Heaven forbid), a trend towards electronic pop (and your music is acoustic.) The key is to shake it off and keep going. If you stop and chuck in the towel, the only 100% guarantee is that absolutely nothing will happen. If you take some key learnings, go back to the drawing board, rethink and push through, there is always a chance of some traction.

It is extremely important that musicians take care of their emotional wellness throughout their careers. Being a player in the music business takes an extreme amount of resilience and definitely requires the ability to take the almost guaranteed knocks that the business dishes out quite frequently.

It is very easy to fall into a negative and “why bother, nothing is going to happen anyway” mindset. This frame of mind is destructive, and no one likes a quitter! Self-care is such a large field and there are loads of tricks and techniques that can help and there is definitely not a generic “quick fix” solution. Taking care of your headspace is ongoing and there will be good and bad days. Practice meditation, go for a daily walk, get some fresh air, get a good night’s sleep, observe what successful acts are doing, build your knowledge and most of all, surround yourself with people who are genuinely interested in your career and care for you as a person. A bit of cheerleading goes a long way when the chips are down!

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