Study: High percentage of live music promoters suffer from stress, burnout, lack of family support
Operators in the live music industry make their money and reputations from creating an environment of shared experience and camaraderie.
Their own lives can be lonely, stressed and prone to anxiety attacks.
The work is 24/7, and exists on huge financial risks.
Many of these depend on factors – like weather or councils or negative publicity from drug intake and competition for punters – which they have no control over.
Ticketing company and event guide Skiddle spoke to 520 UK promoters, venue operators and event organisers as part of a first-ever survey on the mental state of those working behind the scenes.
82% suffered from a continuous level of stress, 67% lived with anxiety, 65% often felt an “intense and unmanageable level of pressure,” and 40% struggled with depression.
One promoter stated, “After running a festival for a couple of years, the workload this year ended up depressing me to a level that I had suicidal thoughts and thoughts of self-harm.
“A couple of months later I had panic attacks when thinking about starting the process again, and decided to go on hiatus instead.”
One in 10 respondents developed symptoms associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which they blamed as a direct result of their work.
Irregular income was cited as a common cause, with 37% admitting they had “frequent” financial problems, and 45% constantly worried they had “no regular income”.
What worsened the problem is that, like many in other aspects of the music industry, having to work late night hours or through weekends meant they weren’t getting support from family or their social circle to deal with their issues.
43% complained of “a lack of support” and 38% reckoned that the nature of the job affected family relationships.
Ironically, many are workaholics – and like many in the music industry, equate their self-esteem with the acceptance of their work and the prestige afforded to them.
Interestingly, 30% of promoters feel they are spoken to in an “unacceptable” way.
Claire Cordeaux, director of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine, commented: “It’s well evidenced that mental health problems are considerably higher in the performing arts community than in the general population and the industry is increasingly recognising the need for support.
“Skiddle’s survey of promoters, one of the first of its kind, is a timely reminder that it is not just performers that need help.”
Ben Sebborn, co-founder and director at Skiddle, said: “The results of this survey do not make for an easy read, and it’s troubling to see that so many promoters are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.”
The company intends to work with the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine and The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) to ensure that promoters get the proper help needed.
Similar studies conducted in Australia on performers and those behind the scene have not focussed on festival and venue promoters.
Currently, the Australian festival scene is in transition from the big mass crowd events once epitomised by Big Day Out and Soundwave, to boutique events experimenting with different experiences to click with punters.