This US charity is working to save lives in the music industry – and it’s coming to London

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The following MBW blog comes from Matt Thomas (pictured), Co-Founder of Music Support – a charity which looks to offer people working in the music industry the professional help they need when they are affected by mental health issues. The organization hosts two special events in London this week on Tuesday (Jan 30) and Wednesday (Jan 31). More details can be found at www.musicsupport.org.


Days after two of the biggest events in the US music industry calendar – the Grammys and the MusiCares Person of The Year Awards – Harold Owens, Senior Director of US based charity MusiCares and the person tasked with running their addictions services, is coming to London to present at two events for Music Support.

Music Support is a charity providing help and support for anyone in the music industry suffering from concerns surrounding addiction and mental health. The charity is founded and run by people (like myself) from the music industry, who have had personal experience of these issues; killer issues – make no mistake.

Both events, sponsored in part by The BRIT Trust and Music Manager’s Forum, are now at full capacity which is a tremendous reflection of the UK music industries interest and appetite to take action. But what is really important is that this shows an international community emerging from within the global industry to deal with these matters of addiction and mental health.

There’s always been a desire to look after our own in these areas, but lack of expertise and joined up approach has made it very difficult. Addiction and mental health are specialist subjects, as well as still being stigmatised and tabooed.

The music industry is by no means alone in having its share of these concerns– but it is often accused of being a breeding ground, an enabling environment, for them to thrive. In reality it’s been proven time and again that these issues are as universal to the workplace as tea and coffee. But it’s fair to say that lifestyle, culture and circumstances do make the music industry a little trickier for those with a pre-disposition to these things.

When someone in the spotlight dies from an overdose, suicide or other addiction/mental health related cause, cries of, “We can never let this happen again!” reverberate for a while… and then someone else dies. Tragically it’s happening almost on a weekly basis.

And for every person in the limelight there are many, many more not in the public eye that this is happening to.

The problem is very real.

The music industry as a whole needs a more structured and united approach to looking after its artists and people. We need joined-up thinking around this – so that everyone is on the same hymn sheet and there is a clear course of action – no matter who the individual is, or the stage of their condition.

Whether it’s peer-to-peer support or professional guidance, we need to ensure that everyone in the industry is getting the best possible care from the best possible people, and that we are consistent in our standards.

We need a defined and well-managed continuum of care with structured support. The longer a client is connected with the recovery process, the greater the success of lasting sobriety.

We need to help people returning from treatment to transition back into their working environment – with help from those who’ve already done it. Or we need to help them get out of it with their pride intact. They need to know that there is a light and a life at the end of the tunnel.

So, the significance of these two events in London is that hundreds of people from the music industry are coming together to find out more about what we’re doing at Music Support. How our approach and practices make a real difference and provide vital lifelines to those that need it.

Harold Owens has been providing a similar service in the US for over 20 years and will be working with us, creating a dialogue to share information, knowledge, skills and expertise, and to build interconnecting, international support pathways so that wherever they are in the world, our people can be looked after.

If it wasn’t for the unexpectedly kind words of an artist manager at a time when few people understood, I would probably be one of the statistics. We need more people like that, and we need to make it easier for people to access the help they need.

A connection with those who’ve been doing it for 20 years is a massive step in the right direction.


Music Support is presenting two special events in London this week: (i) “Where Is the Line?” – an evening of keynote presentations and panel events at the Tabernacle on Tuesday January 30th between 6:30pm -9:30pm; (ii) “Let’s Push Things Forward” – a full day of workshops at the Marriott Hotel Kensington on Wednesday 31st January between 9:30am – 5:30pm. MBW is a proud media partner. Further details can be found at www.musicsupport.orgMusic Business Worldwide

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