73% of independent musicians experience mental illness

A new report spoke to 1,500 artists on the state of their mental wellbeing.

by Moya Lothian-McLean
09 May 2019, 11:16am

Image courtesy of Alexey Ruban for Record Union

In worrying – yet sadly, unsurprising news – a new survey has found that 73% of independent musicians say they’ve experienced symptoms of mental illness. Record Union, a Swedish digital distribution company, have released the findings of The 73 Percent Report, produced from online responses given by 1,500 artists on the state of their mental wellbeing.

The results paint a disheartening picture; seven out of 10 musicians say they’ve experienced stress, anxiety and depression during the course of their career with a fear of failure, financial instability and loneliness being cited as the most common factors affecting mental health.

It gets bleaker for those just starting out too; not only do younger artists report a much higher incidence of grappling with mental illness, they’re far also less likely to both talk openly about their struggles or seek treatment for it compared to musicians aged above 25.

The research also uncovered deep-rooted unhappiness within the independent music community with a perceived glamorisation of ‘self-destructive behaviours’. 51% of respondents reported ‘self-medicating’ to try and tackle conditions like depression, most frequently turning to drink and drugs. “Quit glamorising drugs and this big party lifestyle for new artists,” wrote one anonymous music-maker in reply to the survey. “They go into it all too deep and come out fucked.”

For their part, Record Union have pledged $30,000 to support initiatives that aim to provide mental health support for musicians – to find out more, visit The 73 Percent website.

“Our study is telling us that something needs to change,” said Record Union CEO Johan Svanberg. “It’s time to put the state of our artists’ mental health on the agenda, before streams and commercial success. We as an industry must wake up and ask ourselves: What’s our responsibility in this and what can we do to create a healthier music climate?”

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

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