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Speaking at ILMC 2019 - Surviving The Business: Health & Wellbeing In Live

Tristan Hunt speaking at ILMC 2019, with Jenni Cochrane (far left), Jana Watkins (centre), Fiona McGugan (second from right) and Ach Dillon (far right)

I appeared on behalf of AFEM's Protect Physical and Mental Health for Fans and Professionals working group at ILMC 2019. A reproduction of ILMC's panel overview is below and a link to the original is here:

Jana Watkins, head of human resources at Live Nation, spoke of her passion for promoting wellbeing within the business, admitting that “the environment in our industry isn’t particularly conducive to leading a healthy lifestyle.”

Director of Killing Moon, Achal Dhillon, echoed this sentiment saying that the industry encourages “certain types of behaviour” that are detrimental to mental and physical wellbeing. The fact that this behaviour is aspired to, or deemed necessary for success, “exacerbates conditions if people have a predisposition to mental illness, or even creates them,” said Dhillon.

Fiona McGugan of Music Managers Forum spoke of the importance of disclosure, and engaging with men directly on this specifically.

Tristan Hunt from the Association for Electronic Music referenced the recent passing of Prodigy’s Keith Flint and Tim Bergling (Avicii), highlighting the continuing prevalence of mental health problems in live music, despite growing awareness of issues.

Jenni Cochrane, director of culture and partnerships at AEI Group spoke of the “excess and problems” which success entails for young artists.

Watkins then asked panellists for their top tips for maintaining health and wellbeing. “Switching off – literally,” said Dhillon, speaking of the ever-present working environment within music.


McGugan referenced the isolating nature of mental health issues and spoke of the importance of being able to admit issues openly and talk about them with others. Hunt agreed with this, “the more we have this conversation, the more it destigmatises the issue,” he said.

Hunt and Cochrane then discussed the danger of phones, e-mail and social media, stressing the need to take time out to cleanse the mind. Both recommended using night mode to limit exposure to blue light and of vastly reducing screen time, especially before bed and in the morning.

“Sleep is the foundation of everything to do with your mental and physical health,” said Cochrane. “Give yourself some quiet headspace, you deserve it.”

Substance abuse, and the industry’s enablement of it, was the next topic of discussion. Dhillon spoke of the tendency towards glamourising artists’ addictions and the ease of access to narcotics.

McGugan agreed that the industry needed to focus on its duty of care towards artists, whereas Hunt said the prevalence of drug use and abuse was symptomatic of a wider set of problems. “We do have an exploitative industry,” admitted Hunt, speaking of the focus on financial gain over wellbeing. “We need to call people out and it has to be a collaborative effort,” he said.

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