Last week, Mercury Award-winning indie artist Arlo Parks canceled a series of concerts, citing a desire to protect her mental health and telling fans “I’m broken.”
In a note I shared with her TwitterParks explained, “I’ve been on the road in and out for the past 18 months, filling in every extra second in between and working myself to the core. […] I now find myself in a place so dark, exhausted and dangerously low–it hurts to admit that my mental health has deteriorated to a place of exhaustion, that I am not well, that I am a human being with limits.”
Parks is just one of a growing number of high-profile artists who have canceled extensive tours for mental health reasons in recent months. Howard Lawrence of Disclosure recently withdrew from the duo’s Australian tour, after admitting he had “experienced acuity, travel delays, lack of routine and being away from friends.”
Days ago, Sam Fender announced the cancellation of a series of upcoming shows, citing his desire to deal with persistent mental health issues: “I’ve neglected myself for over a year now and haven’t dealt with the things that have affected me so badly. It’s impossible to do this work myself while I’m walking on way, and it is exhausting to pretend to be happy and healthy in order to work.”
That’s not all – several other businesses, including Wet Leg, Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes, have been postponing their planned tour dates this summer in an effort to protect their mental health.
talk with WatchmanJoe Hastings for Philanthropy musicians help Notice an increasing number of musicians approaching Music minds matter Support service on issues including “stress, anxiety and performance anxiety” after a long period of inactivity during the pandemic.
This suggests that as a result of a post-pandemic return to tours, many musicians have not been able to keep up with the heavy demands of an industry to recover, frantically making up for lost time.
The changing economics of the music industry are likely to contribute to the difficulties many musicians face. With streaming services continuing to empty artists’ wallets with meager royalty rates, many have had to rely on ticket sales as their primary source of income.
This is putting an increasing amount of pressure on the performers, forcing them to push themselves harder than before to book more dates and play more shows. For many, this leads to exhaustion, stress, and a breakdown.
Grammy Award-winning actress Oruj Aftab has voiced her concerns about a Twitter theme This month, describing how, even after a successful major tour with a “massive turnout,” she found herself in debt worth tens of thousands of dollars.
“This is after artists have already lost a lot of income during Covid,” she wrote. “Now fuel visa taxes and hotel rates after coronavirus trips are outrageous, promoters are afraid to raise ticket prices, and the public is still anxious to get out… What a mess it is and we are expected to take the hit.”
While the rising tide of tour cancellations undoubtedly indicates a worrying decline in the artists’ welfare, there is some hope in the fact that they feel able to speak out about it, a possibility that would have been unimaginable a decade ago.
“The way artists express their experiences was not so common until five years ago,” Hastings tells the Guardian, stressing that attitudes surrounding the topic have progressed significantly. “It is important to enable artists to make challenging decisions, based on a good understanding of what they need to take care of themselves and lead happy, healthy careers.”
Visit the Help Musicians website to learn more and support their work. (Opens in a new tab)