For many people, the past year has been one filled with struggles and hardships. For music-industry workers and artists, everything has essentially been put on pause. All of this has made quite the impact and many people are still struggling to adapt.
As we are slowly seeing some positive change happening and have hopes for shows and festivals to return, I worry about artists and music industry professionals. I believe that the majority of people are excited to get back to some normalcy, but my concern stems from wondering how this will affect people’s mental health. Drastic changes and transitions from one norm to another won’t be easy for everyone.
The goal of this article isn’t to be negative, to scare people, or to take away from the excitement revolving around the return of live events, but to be transparent and to entice people to be kind, patient, and understanding with artists and industry workers while they adapt and return to work.
Speaking from personal experience, there’s nothing I want more than to start booking performances for my team and to watch them do their thing on stage. Yet, when I think about this I’m filled with both excitement and anxiety. With barely any face-to-face interactions this past year, I find myself getting social anxiety when I meet up to walk outdoors with a friend who I haven’t seen in a while. This makes me wonder, how will I react once I am surrounded by strangers or people I barely know. This social anxiety is very new to me and I think it will take a bit of time for me to adapt to the abundance of face-to-face interactions I will be having on any given weekend.
After speaking with a few people about this, I noticed that I wasn’t alone with these concerns. I was lucky enough to get some quotes on this topic from artists and industry professionals whom I respect tremendously.
“The stress of keeping up with everything and vending at more shows will make it hard to keep my mental health in check. There will be more work than there has been for the past year which I am not used to anymore and I think it’ll be tough to find that work-life balance again. I’m worried about my energy levels being depleted as the weeks go on seeing as I’ll have to exhaust a lot of my energy catering to customers, talking to people and planning for my business to run smoothly. Don’t get me wrong, I am so excited to meet new people, catch up with friends, share my energy and vend, but I just know at first it’ll be a lot to adapt to.”
– Larissa Kurucz // Owner, vendor and artist at Lucid Hive.
“While it’s an exciting time to see festival tickets sell out and a general buzz surrounding upcoming events, it’s important to have patience with the people behind these shows. We often forget that it takes an army to perfectly execute a festival, and those individuals often work overtime to keep everyone, including fans, artists and crew, safe and entertained. My plan for when shows start up is to have patience with everyone who is behind the scenes making the festival go off without a hitch. If there are long lines, if there are technical difficulties, if there are delays – have some empathy and remember that without these people, our shows would not go on. So blessed, to have these events back and hopping that nothing takes them away from us again.”
– Christina Vessa // Founder of Dubstep FBI
“There’s a social anxiety aspect of live music and crowds that no one really talks about and especially post-covid, I’m pretty worried about that personally, at least from a consumer’s standpoint.”
– Ari Kapner // Founder of Hearditherefirst.blog
“I think the state of concerts and mental health has permanently changed because of COVID-19. It’s implied that once people are vaccinated everything will go back to normal, but we don’t acknowledge the underlying effects from being in a pandemic for over a year. Musicians and Managers already don’t have a normal schedule. They operate mostly around the clock whether it’s performing a show, traveling, or working on marketing materials; it’s constant. It is a highly stressful job with limited breaks. While we can schedule ourselves to have breaks, the music industry is rapidly evolving, therefore we have no choice but to keep up even during a pandemic. We as an industry were already battling mental health problems before COVID and now that we are resuming like if nothing happened is a disservice to ourselves and to others. This pandemic took a toll on young people especially with the social/physical isolation. It has been immense and we’re going to see the effects of it post-Covid. I think that mental health issues will become more prevalent as our industry moves forward post-covid and we shouldn’t ignore the fact of the matter.”
-Wesley San // Artist Manager at Jourity
“Although it was an incredibly rough road for many, the time off felt almost like a much needed vacation for those putting in the work 24/7. This was a time for re-centering and growth for many of us and I am grateful for the opportunity to slow down and reflect. It seems a bit daunting going back to working at a very busy venue and getting back into the swing of working 50+ hours a week and remembering how I kept all of my responsibilities on track. Luckily most of it is like muscle memory at this point, but there’s going to be a lot to adjust to as well. “
– Honora McCormack // Co-Founder of Arcana Management
“ As hyped as I am to get back to everything, during the pandemic I’ve gone to bed much earlier than usual and struggle to stay up past 11:00pm. It’ll be a big adjustment to stay up until 4:00am playing shows and I know at first I’ll be exhausted. I’ve also not been seeing people and have been in my own bubble so I think returning on stage in front of many people will feel like my first time performing all over again and I won’t be as comfortable as when I was performing every few weekends.”
– Matt Doe // Artist
So, as much as we are excited and looking forward to the return of live events, I think it’s important for us to look out for one another during these changing times. We as a community need to support one another, be patient with the process, and also be considerate of the fact that this may not be an easy process for everyone to adapt to.
I wish everyone a safe return to “normalcy” and I look forward to dancing with you on festival grounds.