Addressing Mental Health In The Music Business
This is a guest post by singer, songwriter, and music producer Bobby B.
Do you want to be successful in the music industry? Everyone keeps telling you to be yourself? Do you constantly doubt yourself thinking you are not ready or good enough? Trust me, you are not alone, we have all been there. As a matter of fact, no matter how successful we get in our careers, doubting is always going to be an unavoidable aspect of our journey.
My name is Bobby Bonev aka Mason Blu. Just a quick disclaimer, I am not a mental health professional but I am an artist, producer, and writer based in London. Throughout my journey so far, I have had the opportunity to work with companies such as Virginia Records (Sony Music), Coca-Cola, Nandoʼs, Ultimate Artists, and others. In this blog article, I would like to share some of my personal insights about the topic of mental health, which today is more important than ever.
Here are some key points that will help you gain more understanding of where have you been so far, where are you and where are you heading:
DOING IT ON YOUR OWN
We all know how glamorous the industry can be – spotlights, cameras flashing, and people shouting your name. This is what a large number of people see, this is the surface. There is a complex plethora of emotions lying below the ground that non-musicians are blind to.
Many musicians struggle with mental health. There may even be neurological reasons behind this. According to Newman, “Centers in the limbic system that control negative emotion tend to be more heavily [located] in the right side of the brain.” Translation: “Right-brained” people — like musicians, who can more easily tap into their feelings — “tend to have dominance in the side of the brain that creates more negative emotions,” he says. “We might even say thereʼs a predisposition for [that].”
Working in the music industry means spending a big chunk of your time working alone. You may feel comfortable with that as you are used to your own workflow, you achieve results faster that
way, or you may even prefer it over collaborating with other people. In the beginning, these all may seem good for you, but as time progresses you might start feeling a void: a nagging sense of loneliness.
NEGATIVE SELF TALK
We musicians are very emotional human beings. Much of what we create comes out of a life experience, which we then translate into our music. As the music industry is a very subjective one, we are always trying to fit into certain trends and make ourselves, and our music more likeable/relatable. This can lead to us losing perspective of who we truly are and become a product of what those around us think we should be. The imbalance created in our minds can lead to some serious issues impacted by our desire to please others and be accepted.
The moment we feel we are not achieving that, we start having a negative conversations with ourselves and things can spirals down hill. We start to question our abilities, our potential and even our desire to continue making music.
But it doesn’t need to be that way… Through conversations with various professionals in the industry, I have come to realize one thing – you cannot please everyone and you don’t need to. My best friend, who is a successful freelancer, working in the entertainment industry has built a career for himself just because he is himself and not anyone else. There is a quote that has
resonated with me on this topic: “You can only be yourself, because everyone else is taken.”
Truth be told, people will end up liking you as you are being yourself and for your genuine conversations with them, your mistakes, and experiences will be much more relevant to their lives. Same applies to writing songs. Donʼt start writing a song with the thought of it being a hit straight away. Good songs are ones that tell a story and allow others to recognize themselves in
them, it is all about honest life experiences we all go through.
So, next time you experience a negative self talk, stop the thought cycle and remember that there are others in that same position. You can only offer yourself and this is the most beautiful thing you can do for the world.
PUTTING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE – MONEY, HEALTH AND
Through my journey in music so far, I have come to believe that music is not a career, it is a way of life, a vocation. We devote so much time to perfecting our skills and sacrificing time spent with others in order to reach our goals.
Musicians are not known to be the most business savvy people. This is a major reason why many experience financial problems, which can lead to symptoms of mental illnesses such as anxiety
and depression. For me, there is a clear distinction between making music I like and making music that the market needs. In order for us to be able to capitalize on our efforts, we need to be aware
of the current music climate and tweak our approach to music making so we can be as successful as we can. Many of us are mainly freelancers and we have not adopted the 9-5 work model, where others find financial comfort. We can work at any time of the day and week simply because inspiration strikes at different times. We invest so much time and money into creating a polished product, most of the time, not knowing if this is going to bring us a viable ROI (return on investment). I have seen numerous examples of people who don’t have labels or publishers, but have been able to generate a substantial profit for themselves simply through their business knowledge.
Another aspect of being a musician is not knowing when to stop working. We get so consumed by the
creative process and our desire to excel at what we do, that we may overwork ourselves and not notice the signals our body sends our way. There are instances of musicians who can go for
days and days on very little sleep. While this is fine in the beginning, exhaustion starts accumulating and over time, it’s easy to burn out. Performing on little or no sleep makes our jobs much harder, and decreases our ability to react and give our best performance. The key is to find the balance between work and personal life. Something I have found really useful is to practice
mindfulness, to meditate and to work on showing more gratitude for what we have even though we might not be where we have envisioned. It is important to put things in perspective and realize
it is not the final goal that matters – it is the journey we take to get there. We learn more through the mistakes we make than the successes we achieve.