Mental Health In the music business

More than seven out of ten (73%) independent music makers said that they have experienced negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and/or depression in relation to their music creation.
— Johan Svanberg, CEO, Record Union

A 2019 report by Record Union estimates that 73% of musicians struggle with mental health, with 33% of that number stating that they have experienced panic attacks related to their music creation. This number is even higher among younger artists, with as many as 80% between the ages of 18-25 saying that they have experienced negative emotions such as stress, anxiety and/or depression.

The two most common reasons given for these negative emotions are fear of failure and financial instability. Other contributing pressures include the pressure to succeed, loneliness and being evaluated by others.

Only 2 out of 5 of those suffering from negative emotions are likely to have sought help and mental treatment for their symptoms. Drugs and alcohol are commonly used as self-medication, with over 50% turning to these alternatives as a method of coping.

Music industry awareness

While Iceland Music is not a provider of mental health services, we encourage musicians to seek professional help if they are suffering from these symptoms. With loneliness being a leading reason that artists do not talk to others about their issues and symptoms, we encourage speaking to mental healthcare professionals or close friends - you are not alone.

Music makers are the lifeblood of the music industry, and it is important that music makers are allowed to create in a space of positivity and sustainability. Awareness is the first step towards this, and artists must be aware that negative emotions are not uncommon in music making. There is no glamour in burnout, and with artists experiencing rates of mental illness that are far above average, we encourage artists and musicians to prioritize their own mental health, as this is the only way that music making can truly be sustainable for the creator.


The Icelandic Red Cross helpline is a toll-free and anonymous resource for anyone going through mental health difficulties. The 1717 Helpline and Online Chat are services available to all those who are in need of assistance and provide an opportunity to talk about issues in complete confidentiality and anonymity with a neutral party. The helpline can also provide information about options and services available to individuals who need further assistance in solving their issues.