Nearly 90 percent of professional musicians say that their mental health has deteriorated since the COVID-19 pandemic began last March, according to a study conducted by Help Musicians UK.
The 100-year-old charitable organization just recently revealed this and other less-than-encouraging stats, which reiterate that the impact of COVID-19 lockdown measures and large-gathering bans hasn’t been purely financial – especially for musicians. Per Help Musicians UK’s analysis, 87 percent of the 700 respondent creators stated that their mental health has worsened amid the pandemic.
More pressingly, 91 percent of the study participants relayed that uncertainty surrounding their career and their future has negatively affected their mental wellbeing. Additionally, 96 percent said that they’re concerned about their ability to earn a living from music moving forward, with seven out of 10 persons unsure whether they’ll be able to “cope financially” in the coming six months.
Over half of the respondents indicated that they’re not currently earning any income from music – down slightly from the 55 percent that Help Musicians reported back in October of 2020 – and 24 percent stated that they’re considering permanently walking away from the industry.
Though troubling, the latter figure represents something of an improvement, as a September of 2020 study determined that 64 percent of UK musicians were weighing the idea of exiting the music space for good. Separately, the pandemic has had a similarly unsettling impact on emerging artists, with some sources pinpointing a 47 percent drop in the number of new musicians touring Europe.
And for additional reference in terms of the pandemic’s initially noted mental-health byproducts, a 2016 study from Help Musicians UK and the University of Westminster found that 71.1 percent of self-identified professional musicians (with a sample size of 2,211 individuals) experienced anxiety and/or panic attacks, with nearly 70 percent of respondents having suffered from depression.
That the pandemic – and an inability to perform before non-socially distanced fans – has exacerbated these underlying struggles hardly comes as a surprise. Vocal lockdown critic Van Morrison last year established “The Lockdown Financial Hardship Fund” to help musicians who were unable to earn a living because of government restrictions, for instance, and said Fund was quickly oversubscribed.
Earlier this week, some in the British live concert industry backed the idea of a “vaccine passport” in an effort to expedite the return of traditional live music. Plus, a different study yet revealed last month that 55 percent of Australian musicians and live-music professionals are thinking of changing careers.