Can Music Make You Sick?
Sally Anne Gross
Can Music Make You Sick?

“Musicians often pay a high price for sharing their art with us. Underneath the glow of success can often lie loneliness and exhaustion, not to mention the basic struggles of paying the rent or buying food. Sally Anne Gross and George Musgrave raise important questions – and we need to listen to what the musicians have to tell us about their working conditions and their mental health.” Emma Warren (Music Journalist and Author)

“Singing is crying for grown-ups. To create great songs or play them with meaning music's creators reach far into emotion and fragility seeking the communion we demand of it. However, music’s toll on musicians can leave deep scars. In this important book, Sally Anne Gross and George Musgrave investigate the relationship between the wellbeing music brings to society and the wellbeing of those who create. It’s a much needed reality check, deglamorising the romantic image of the tortured artist.” Crispin Hunt (Multi-Platinum Songwriter/Record Producer, Chair of the Ivors Academy)

It is often assumed that creative people are prone to psychological instability, and that this explains apparent associations between cultural production and mental health problems. In their detailed study of recording and performing artists in the British music industry, Sally Anne Gross and George Musgrave turn this view on its head. 

By listening to how musicians understand and experience their working lives, this book proposes that whilst making music is therapeutic, making a career from music can be traumatic. The authors show how careers based on an all-consuming passion have become more insecure and devalued. Artistic merit and intimate, often painful, self-disclosures are the subject of unremitting scrutiny and data metrics. Personal relationships and social support networks are increasingly bound up with calculative transactions. 

Drawing on original empirical research and a wide-ranging survey of scholarship from across the social sciences, their findings will be provocative for future research on mental health, wellbeing and working conditions in the music industries and across the creative economy. Going beyond self-help strategies, they challenge the industry to make transformative structural change. Until then, the book provides an invaluable guide for anyone currently making their career in music, as well as those tasked with training and educating the next generation.

Note: On the Music Industry/Music Industries
1. Introduction: Special Objects, Special Subjects
1.1 What Makes You Think You’re So Special?
1.2 You Don’t Have to Be Mad, But it Helps
1.2.1 Can Music Really Make You Sick?
1.3 Abundant Music, Excessive Music?
1.4 Communicating when Music is Media Content
1.5 Music Education and the Pipeline
1.6 What Are We Seeking to Do in this Book?
2. Sanity, Madness and Music
2.1 Signs of Emotional Distress and the New Language of Mental Health
2.2 Music and Suffering: The Limits of Magical Thinking
2.3 Methodology: Our Survey Findings – Anxiety and Depression by Numbers
2.4 A Deep Dive: Solo Artists, Gender and Age
2.4.1 Interviews: Understanding Feeling
2.5 Conclusion: Status and the Rhetoric of Fantasies
3. The Status of Work
3.1 Financial Precarity and Defining ‘Work’
3.1.1 Work, Work, Work
3.1.2 Money and Meaning
3.1.3 Pleasure and Self-exploitation
3.1.4 Professionalism and Value
3.2 Musical ‘Success’?
3.2.1 How to Define Success
3.2.2 Capital, Image and Illusion
3.2.3 Failure, Responsibility and Identity
3.3 Expectations and the Myth of the Future
3.3.1 The Achievement-Expectation Gap
3.3.2 Music as Social Mobility
3.3.3 ‘Deification and Demolish’
3.4 Conclusions: Take Part, Make… Content
4. The Status of Value
4.1 Validation ‘Online’
4.1.1 Feedback and Vulnerability
4.1.2 Competition and Relevancy
4.1.3 Abundance and Communicating
4.2 Validation in ‘the Industry’
4.2.1 Reputation and Contracts
4.2.2 The Deal
4.2.3 On the Role of Luck
4.2.4 Luck, Power and Privilege
4.3 The Myth of Control and the Nature of Blame
4.3.1 Symbolic Inefficiency and Stickiness
4.3.2 Do You Feel in Control?
4.4 Conclusions: Welcome to the ‘You’ Industry
5. The Status of Relationships
5.1 Personal Relationships
5.1.1 Family, Guilt and Sustainability
5.1.2 The Role of London
5.1.3 Touring and Family Life
5.1.4 The Work/Leisure Distinction
5.1.5 Music as a Gambling Addiction
5.2 Professional Relationships
5.3 Women and Their Relationships
5.3.1 Sexual Abuse and Misogyny
5.3.2 Self-Perception
5.3.3 Women Online
5.4 Conclusions: Drive and Being ‘Occupied’ by Your Occupation
6. Conclusions: What Do You Believe In?
6.1 Discipline and Dreaming
6.2 ’Twas Ever Thus: What’s New?
6.2.1 Experiencing Abundance, Making Data
6.3 ‘Let’s Talk About It’: What Would Living Better Look Like?
6.3.1 Therapy and Listening
6.3.2 Public Policy and Learning Lessons?
6.3.3 Duty of Care: Responsibility and Control
6.3.4 The Case of Lil Peep
6.4 Music Education Now: Reflections
6.4.1 Questions of Content and New Ways of Teaching
6.5 Concluding Thoughts: Myths and Wellbeing
1 Musicians Interviewed and their Demographics
2 Additional Cited Interviewees and Interviews with Mental Health Professionals
3 Directory: Music and Mental Health Resources
4 Notes on Methodology
Author Information
The book hasn't received reviews yet.