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[Commlist] New book: Can Music Make You Sick?

Wed Sep 30 11:01:20 GMT 2020

new open access book publication:


*Measuring the Price of Music Ambition *
Sally Anne Gross and George Musgrave

It is often assumed that creative people are prone to psychological instability, and that this explains apparent associations between cultural production and mental health problems. In their detailed study of recording and performing artists in the British music industry, Sally Anne Gross and George Musgrave turn this view on its head.By listening to how musicians understand and experience their working lives, this book proposes that whilst making music is therapeutic, making a career from music can be traumatic. The authors show how careers based on an all-consuming passion have become more insecure and devalued. Artistic merit and intimate, often painful, self-disclosures are the subject of unremitting scrutiny and data metrics. Personal relationships and social support networks are increasingly bound up with calculative transactions.Drawing on original empirical research and a wide-ranging survey of scholarship from across the social sciences, their findings should be provocative for future research on mental health, wellbeing and working conditions in the music industries and across the creative economy. Going beyond self-help strategies, they challenge the industry to make transformative structural change. Until then, the book provides an invaluable guide for anyone currently making their career in music, as well as those tasked with training and educating the next generation.

“The best guide to what being a musician, and what "the music industry" actually are that I can remember reading... it manages to capture and quantify so much about how we value emotion, creativity, labour, relationships, time, other people, [and] ourselves, in the information economy” Joe Muggs(DJ, Promoter, Journalist [Guardian, Telegraph, FACT, Mixmag, The Wire])

“… a much needed reality check, deglamourising the romantic image of the tortured artist.”

Crispin Hunt (Multi-Platinum Songwriter/Record Producer, Chair of the Ivors Academy)

“Sally Anne Gross and George Musgrave raise important questions – and we need to listen to what the musicians have to tell us about their working conditions and their mental health.”

Emma Warren (Music Journalist and Author)

“A critical and timely book which is sure to kick start further conversations around musicians, mental health and the music industry” Adam Ficek (Psychotherapist [Music and Mind]/BabyShambles)

“… should be mandatory reading for every label, booking agent, manager and tour manager in the business of music and touring so we can all better understand what’s really involved in living the life of a professional musician” Grant Hutchison (Frightened Rabbit)


1. Introduction: Special Objects, Special Subjects

2. Sanity, Madness and Music

3. The Status of Work

4. The Status of Value

5. The Status of Relationships

6. Conclusions: What Do You Believe In?

Appendixes | Notes | Bibliography


*Sally Anne Gross *is a Principal Lecturer at the University of Westminster and the course leader of the MA Music Business Management. She is also a music manager and music business affairs consultant, and has worked in the music industry for over three decades.

*George Musgrave i*s an academic based at both the University of Westminster and Goldsmiths, University of London. He is also a musician who has been signed to Sony/EMI/ATV.

*Open Access*

PDF, ePub and kindle versions available free from books:

PDF 978-1-912656-61-5 ePub 978-1 912656-62-2 Kindle978-1-912656-63-9

DOI: 10.16997/book43

*Format *156 pages 229 x 152mm


UK£14.99 US$18.99 EUR €17.95 CAN $24.95 AUS $27.50

*Hardback *978-1-912656-65-3

UK£64.99 US $82


Popular Music|Media Industries| Cultural Studies| Communication Studies

Published open access by the University of Westminster Press

Published 29 September 2020

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