What good is all the success in the world if we cannot enjoy it, if we are in emotional turmoil? There is a resent study conducted in Australia by the Vitoria University that highlighted a shocking rate of mental health problems amongst the entertainment industry. The study was conducted in Australia, but I would not expect the results being much different in the States, Canada or Europe. I talked about the effect of touring can have on your mental health, but the figures really are frightening.
A staggering 63% of the musicians earn less than the minimum wage. And as I said before, they do it because the passion that drives them. I speak from years of experience when I say this, it is not an easy life! There ave been long periods of time, I literally lived from hand to mouth. And when the times are “better” and there is even a small break in the constant scraping of the bottom of the barrel, you naturally need to give your self a break from the constant penny pinching, and live a life a little bit. But these times rarely last long enough to stash some hard earned cash aside for the rainy day. And there is a constant need to upgrade your equipment. Professional instruments are extremely expensive.
Here are some of the staggering findings of the study
– 63% of performers earn less than the National Minimum Wage
– 10% of professional singers have attempted suicide
– 59.5% of entertainment industry workers have sought help for mental health issues
– 40% of performers have been diagnosed with a mental illness
– 36% of roadies reported “suicide ideation” in their lifetime
– Lack of sleep, low pay, drug and alcohol abuse the contributing factors
Source: Working in the Australian Entertainment Industry survey, Victoria University
This is why it infuriates when I hear about bar owners trying to squeeze the fees they pay for the entertainment. Musicians work long and hard for their music, they deserve to be compensated for the music they provide. I am lucky enough to be able to to work with some decent venues, but I still get these crazy offers all the time. The weird thing is, I feel almost guilty for not accepting them…
So next time you see a band in your local bar, think about what they might be going through just to make it to play there for you. And my dear fellow musicians and road warriors, please ask for help when things get bad.
The author J.P. Kallio is a singer songwriter
To get EIGHT of his songs for free go HERE