Burnout epidemic in the music industry?

Éepidemic burnout in the music industry?” /></p>
<p> Are we facing a burnout epidemic in the music industry? </p>
<p>Some 19,000 cultural workers have deserted the community since 2019, says the director general of Culture in action, Pascale Landry. Of these, 14,000 are women. Since June, <em>Métro</em> has been collecting testimonials from those who remain in the music industry, particularly in management. They – because they are mostly women- are exhausted, underpaid and out of breath: are we facing an epidemic of <em>burnout</em>? </p>
<p>Managers, public relations, <em>bookers</em>, producers: a panoply of workers support the province's musicians and promote their music on listening platforms, festival stages and on tour, organizing almost everything from A to Z . </p>
<p>This requires, in addition to maintaining an often personal and professional link with the artists, to be available and present almost constantly. At shows in the evening or on weekends to support the musicians, and during the day to do regular work.  </p>
<p>Due to the lack of labor and uncompetitive wages, workers in the sector may be forced to wear several hats and do more work than they are required to do. remunerated. This overload largely explains the many departures on sick leave as well as the high rate of people who give up working in this industry.</p>
<p>All cultural sectors were analyzed in a study and survey carried out last spring by Competence culture and then sent to <em>Métro</em>by Culture in Action. “I still have the impression that music is THE worst industry… But maybe it's just because I'm into it, “said Alice, an employee who works in the middle of the management of artists. This is a false name; she asked to remain anonymous so as not to publicly identify her clients and colleagues. </p>
<p class=5 big facts stand out following the survey: 
1- The fatigue and the burden of the mental health of workers, all backgrounds combined 
2- The non-recognition of invisible work and the lack of competitive salaries 
3- The lack of appreciation of the culture sector, but especially of the people who compose it 
4- Lack of job security 
5- Lack of pay equity or equity in relation to working conditions 

As part of her management work, Alice sees the turnover of a few artists, and therefore of a few managers. “We keep saying that artists don't make a penny,” she recalls, “but managers generally take a cut of only 10% of what artists make.”  

I see the management income and I don not know how it survives. 

Music industry worker Alice

Éliane, who also goes by a false name, made a burnout during the pandemic as she became involved in the production and promotion of the work of artists. She wants to remain anonymous, for similar reasons to Alice.

She works in two well-established and recognized Montreal record labels. The closures of the medium, “which was not considered essential” during the confinements, made his work, directly linked to the shows, impractical. 

Over the incessant deconfinements and reconfinements of the sector, her tasks have evolved, Éliane putting on one and then two more hats. “The shows resumed for a while, then a closure was announced the same day we had one planned,” recalls the one who finally left the scene, exhausted and depressed.  

By dint of believing in the promises of deconfinement and potential future subsidies, “we worked all the time in butter but never having the satisfaction of the work accomplished”, she recalls. 

While she worked three full-time jobs for the pay of one, her employer refused to raise her salary or pay her overtime. Nor was he planning to hire anyone else to help him. “He said it wasn't that much of a job, what I was doing,” she says. When she left the record company where she worked for another, where she worked for seven months before going on sick leave, two new employees were hired to fill two of the positions she held, and one of the positions has been abolished. “I laughed out loud,” she admits.  

This chronic burnout that is undermining the music industry does not date from the pandemic, according to all the stakeholders interviewed by Métro as well as the studies commissioned by Competence culture. “The pandemic has had the consequence of exacerbating inequalities, in particular through the disproportionate impact of health restrictions on certain sectors”, specifies the Artists' Foundation by email. 

“The salary of culture”

The very uncompetitive remuneration of the music and entertainment industry has also led to the appearance of the expression “the salary of culture” to designate the invitations to attend other free shows, launches, parties, happy hours, or networking events. There is also talk of various panels or workshops taking place on the sidelines of various popular music festivals in Quebec and Montreal.  

“Work is intertwined with partying,” emphasizes Éliane, who initially believed that her working conditions would be stimulating.  

“In the eyes of the public, as one works in the entertainment, we do jobs that are fair and only fun at all times, while it comes with great responsibility,” says the co-founder and director of the label branch. >candy, Alexandre Archambault 

No one has a problem with fun and partying. The concern is that workers are often forced to be present during their artists' shows or events, often without pay, to support them, frame media interviews or provide a presence. of label. This is the very definition of invisible work. And everyone consulted by Métro confirms having done so. A lot. And that it is very frowned upon not to submit to it. 

As much as it's fun being invited to places, you end up talking about non-stop work. Quit sending emails while you're in a 5 à 7 […]. You are always trying to find contacts for this or that type of thing. Yes it can be exhausting in the long run.

Éliane, who suffered from a burnout after working in two record labels based in Montreal

Noémie Laniel, who owns the Albertine management company, is sorry to be forced to participate in this culture. When we met her over a beer on the Plateau, she was on leave for burnout. She says she “compensates [her only] employee as best she can”, but not for all the hours worked.  

When asked if she herself pays herself for all the hours worked, she bursts out laughing. The answer is obviously no.

No one in music gets paid for the time they put in, for what is asked of them. Working beyond the hours for which you are paid applies to everyone, [record companies], as self-employed workers.

Noémie Laniel, owner and manager of the Albertine management company.

The mixture of partying, music, shows and work, “that’s what we are also looking for, she admits, but we must not ignore the fact that it has flaws and that it can become toxic”. 

Setting limits, easier said than done

When Alexandre Archambault founded bonbonbon, a record label that also offers à la carte services to artists, he “almost had a burnout“.  

In stewardship, you are extremely emotionally involved in the life of the person you are managing. Whether you want it or not. The biggest challenge is to set your limits and choose where you will invest your energy. But when your artist arrives and tells you that she has no money to pay her rent… How not to be involved? You are managing an individual, you are not managing a business.

Alexandre Archambault, bonbonbon co-founder and label director.

However, he admits that it is not so easy to impose his limits. “If your artist loses a loved one, you will cancel shows, you will be present. Unless you are stone cold”, he says.  

The testimonies collected by Métro reveal rampant poverty in an where most workers lack recognition. “We do jobs that are difficult to define. There is no order, there are no federations,” says label directorat candy. There are no unions either, because of the complexity of the network, divided into a multitude of small independent teams. Its unionization would require a colossal change of culture. 

“We are recognized by our peers, but perhaps not so much by the government as professionals”, judges Mr. Archambault, reiterating that “Mr. and Mrs. Everybody don't really know what the job is” that these people do.  

Performance and inclusion 

Éliane and Noémie Laniel emphasize that as women, setting boundaries is even more complicated. As a new employee in her twenties, Éliane says her manager put extra pressure on her: “I had to perform, to be ultra-present [on site for the artists]. You always have to work harder than men in music and culture.” 

The study commissioned by Competence culture shows that women, although very numerous to work in the field of culture, receive lower salaries than their male counterparts.  

The survey conducted in the spring, also commissioned by Competence culture, shows that 51% of women working in the cultural sector consider the lack of pay equity, or equity in relation to working conditions, as a very priority issue.  

In comparison, 28% of men think the same. Remember that the survey does not focus exclusively on the music sector, but on the cultural milieu in general.  

In another vein, 37% of women identify the barriers to access of people from diverse backgrounds to positions on boards of directors and positions of power as a very important issue. priority. This rate decreases to 25% in men. 

What solutions for music? 

“I've been doing this for eight years and, honestly, I won't be able to live with it. In the sense that if I have plans for the future, I will not be able to finance them like that”, laments Noémie Laniel. “It’s a shitty job, everyone lets go,” Alice said bluntly, pointing out the urgent help the music and entertainment industry needs. 

Some psychological and financial assistance programs already exist for those working in certain cultural sectors. For example, for the performing arts, a sector that has suffered particularly from the pandemic, there is the Reinforcement Program of the Artists' Foundation. It has been offering psychological support since October 15, as well as financial and legal support. 

Pascale Landry, Executive Director of Culture en action, assures that the next step is the quest for solutions to the problems identified in the survey and the study commissioned by Culture Competence. A consultation with workers was carried out at the end of November, and in the spring of 2023, Culture en action will publish an action plan with recommendations for concrete solutions to improve working conditions in the community. 

Despite this, Alice remains cynical. “This is not the first action plan, this is not the first study to come out on this subject,” she said, lamenting the lack of progress for her and her colleagues in recent years.  

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