The “Touring and Mental Health Manual” is an essential guide for anyone in the music industry who wants to care for their mental health while on the road. We speak with the editor Tamsin Embleton to learn more.
Mental health in the music industry is paramount, as it directly impacts artists’ well-being, creativity, and overall productivity. Musicians often face intense pressure, performance anxiety, and irregular schedules, leading to stress and burnout.
Significant initiatives have addressed mental health more openly and attempted to foster a supportive culture that breaks down stigmas and encourages seeking help when needed. Moreover, nurturing mental well-being leads to career longevity.
Arguably, ‘Touring And Mental Health: The Music Industry Manual’ would not have been made 10 or 15 years ago. That’s a testament to how far things have developed, and we wanted to speak to the editor, Tamsin Embleton, to learn more about this essential publication.
Attack: You’ve had an interesting career to date. Could you tell us how you arrived at editing this ‘encyclopedia’ of music, mental health and touring?
Tamsin Embleton: I spent many years as a booker – booking venues, festivals and events in a large recording studio called Metropolis Studios.
After being in therapy myself, I gravitated towards retraining as a psychotherapist and during the course of that training, I began to research the psychological impact of touring.
After I finished that research in 2018, I began to think about turning it into a book… It was important to me that the other writers I brought on board were specialists in their respective areas, and I wanted to pay them for their time, so I set up a crowdfunding.
Michael Rapino of Live Nation saw that and sponsored the book (later buying 3000 copies for venue and festival dressing rooms). This year we finally released the book in March 2023, and now we have a Spanish version coming out in late October.
I also run a group called Music Industry Therapist Collective – we’re all ex-music industry therapists, psychologists and a medical doctor. We’re currently based across the US, UK and branching into the EU.
The book feels very much like a book of today, in that conversations around mental health in music have progressed significantly this past decade. Do you think the changing narrative is making a difference?
Definitely. There is greater mental health literacy which is helping to shift the stigma and shame around talking about getting help.
There is a flip side in that wellness practitioners offer a lot of inaccurate advice on social media. These people often have valuable life experience but little by way of clinical training – which means the advice isn’t always aligned with what we know and recommend from a clinical perspective.
Given how far these discussions have come, where are they heading? Where might things develop over the next five years?
I hope we continue to deepen our understanding of creating better interpersonal safety within the music industry.
To do that, we must be willing to examine our blind spots, biases, prejudices, weaknesses and areas for growth (and how they impact others!). We must also model good practice around boundaries, aftercare, and balance between work life and home life.