Where Have All the Musicians Gone?

More and more artists are struggling to find a job. Amongst those who are working depression is growing.

A recent article in The Guardian cited the difficulties of the touring musician as they struggle with depression. It explained that the excitement of performing can give way to low moments in which the performer feels a dip in adrenaline and excitement. Post Performance Depression (PPD). This combined with the often hectic work schedule is what gives way to depression.

“Money problems (82%) and work insecurity (79%) were top concerns.”, the study stated.

The study failed to address that the reality of unemployed and underemployed musicians is truth in bold print stereotypes. When someone decides to pursue the arts as a career it is almost akin to wishing on a star and then clocking into an unrelated job.

The Study was conducted by Help Musicians UK which is a non-profit organization seeking to offer practical positive support for emerging, professional and retired musicians. The Study involved 552 respondents. All were Professional musicians. Only 18% of those had worked for less than 5 years.

In 2014 Musicians, Singers and Related Workers accounted for around 60,770 employees of the United States Employment workforce totaling over 135,128,250 people. In comparison, Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations is around 12,277,720 employees.

So why all these numbers?

There are a lot of underemployed and unemployed artists.

A release from The National Endowment for the Arts in 2005 states that there are 169,647 Musicians who are primarily working as musicians.

In 2009 that number was 185,675. Their projection for 2018 is 200,600 employed musicians.

Compare that to 60,770.

Now numbers can be a game, however, it is safe to assume that if we start looking around us we will see educated musicians working secondary jobs. We see well trained educated musicians serving coffee or working in offices. The level of underemployment is growing.

Amidst the furor of words which show that musicians have unprecedented access to growing a fan-base through social media; we see that less musicians are actually working as musicians.

Where did the musicians go? Are they depressed? What are we going to do about it?

Dancers are even worse off- only 17,270 dancers are employed as dancers and choreographers.

It is possible that artists are checking the wrong box to define their workforce status, however, even when you start to total the numbers of all related fields, like composers (21,000), you still fall short of the numbers projected.

Where are these missing people? Does anyone really care and how do these missing people feel?

Maybe, they are depressed.