Taking self-care seriously is key, and that means more than a long soak in a warm bath, although that often helps. There is so much information out there about wellbeing and healthier living, but the main point is to develop habits that work for you and help you to reduce your stress, and some of those things also have to come from improving the way the creative industries operate. Below is a combination of both of these factors.
The key things that came out of our research seem pretty simple but they will need substantial changes to take place to see them implanted. Below are 7 things that we found musicians really wanted changed.
1. Learn to Switch Off. The first thing we think everybody needs to tackle is learning to switch off. Trying to work out a good work-life balance has become particularly hard in the current circumstances, but it is hugely important. Switching off from emails and social media and establishing a routine that works for you should be first on the list.
2. Share Housework. There have been plenty of reports lately about how the pandemic has impacted on women’s lives, especially for mothers with home-schooling and additional housework. Therefore, if you are a parent, rule two has to be talking about sharing housework and parenting/caring responsibilities. We know these are often not easy conversations, but they really do need to be had and not just in the home. It would be good to see the media covering more stories on how to share childcare and housework responsibilities.
3. It’s Not Always Your Responsibility. The third point is the importance of remembering that everything is not your fault nor always your responsibility. We can exhaust ourselves through self-criticism and feeling guilty. This is where finding things to do to unwind and that can help alleviate stress can be useful.
4. Make Time for a Weekend. Next, make sure you have a weekend! This is another art of the working 24/7 trap, but if you do not have to work the weekend, don’t. If you do find yourself working on the weekend, it is worth checking why you ended up with so much work.
5. Get Paid on time. This was something which we heard many times in our interviews, and of certainly is common across many cultural and creative industries. These industries are proliferated with workers who are enormously financially precarious, and so extended waits for invoices to be paid is a real source of anxiety. This needs to change.
6. Eliminating the idea of working for free. This needs to be addressed and relegated to history as opposed to being common practice. The outcomes in terms of inequality in particular i.e. who can afford to work for free and (often) live in London.
7. Credit people for the work they do. The digital world has led to a proliferation of digital distribution where accreditation is often lacking. It is hugely demoralising to see your work used but then you are not even credited.
Dr George Musgrave and Sally Ann Gross are authors of Can Music Make You Sick? Measuring the Price of Musical Ambition which is the largest ever study into mental health in the music industry which is out on 29th September.
Sally Anne Gross has been working in the music industry for nearly three decades as an artist manager, record label director and international business affairs consultant. In 1993 she was the first woman to be A&R Manager at Mercury Records UK. In her current role at the University of Westminster, she is the program director of the MA Music Business Management. Dr George Musgrave is a lecturer based at both the University of Westminster and Goldsmiths, University of London. He is also a musician who has signed both major recording and publishing deals (Sony/EMI/ATV). His music has earned support from the likes of Mike Skinner, Ellie Goulding and Ed Sheeran.