For over 22 years one of the leading music industry PR agencies www.quitegreat.co.uk have been helping musicians of all shapes and sizes from legends like Meatloaf and Van Morrison to artists just starting out – so, it seems likely that when they flag up the word ‘mental health’ as a growing issue amongst musicians, that we should listen. Quite Great PR’s MD Pete Bassett, who founded the company following his years heading up PR for Geffen, Polydor and MCA etc, was so concerned about what was happening that he set up a service where artists can link up with a therapist to discuss issues, ranging from stage fright to depression. Listing the service on his site, Pete felt an additional step needs to be taken and for major labels to set up a service that helps artists through the stress and strain of being ‘dropped’, much like the actions being taken by Reality TV Production companies.
As Pete Bassett explains,
‘Whether you’re thumbing the pages of a magazine, scrolling your Facebook feed or embarking on your morning update from Instagram, there will inevitably be a post or article about another mental health story… but does that mean we’re on our way to understanding and accepting mental health, or are we just talking about it more? Today to ‘open up’ about your mental health can still feel as though you’re putting yourself in a position of vulnerability, even more so when you’re a musician and a great deal of your life depends on the approval of others. ‘
‘The inspiration for setting up Quite Great’s Mental Health Awareness Service,’ Pete elaborates, ‘Stemmed directly from seeing the impact when the phone stops ringing for an artist and they realise the record label has moved on and will not be helping them any further. This can be devastating and undoubtedly can be a catalyst for depression , but there seems to be very little inbuilt support structure within labels and this needs to change now before it is too late and what we see has happened in TV Reality will end up happening in the music business!’
Social networks may claim to be aiming to eradicate elements of social media that cause mental issues, such as likes on Instagram or those much sought for ‘points’ on Snapchat but again claims Bassett –
‘Change needs to happen now! Social media clearly can threaten our feeling of self-worth under the false fulfilment of overflowing followers and double-taps. In the same dangerous way it exposes music talent to the need for approval of others, as musicians expose themselves to others in the hope for the acceptance of their art every day of their lives and they cannot afford to switch it off! Or so they feel!’
Musicians suffering from mental health problems is at a rise, with a recent study by Record Union showing that 73% of independent music makers are affected by problems with their mental health – more than seven out of ten!
Working in the music industry since the late 1980’s and being at the cutting edge of change within those decades, Bassett has seen how precarious the relationship between a musician’s art and identity is and how being rejected or dropped from a record label can often feel as much of a personal attack as it is professional. He believes that in any workplace environment there must be help available for those struggling with mental health and these rules should be applied to record labels and others managing musicians and where there seems to be a vacuum, Quite Great have sought to provide this to artists, providing access to music therapy support for musicians, and at the same time adding a warmer more understanding side to the classic hardnosed image of Music PR agencies.