In recent years there has been a growing body of research that has begun to examine the dark side of our relationship to music. The media understandably concentrate on the more sensational aspects of rock and roll; membership of ‘27 Club’, or the recent public declaration of critically acclaimed dubstep producer Benga as suffering from schizophrenia (Hutchinson, 2015). There is then a tension emerging between the notion that artistry is positive both for the economy and for well-being, and a growing awareness that a musical career is a risky business.
‘Can Music Make You Sick?’ surveyed over 2,200 musicians working in the United Kingdom, and interviewed more than 25 musicians and industry professionals, to explore how they are emotionally experiencing working in the music industry in the United Kingdom. This paper presents findings from this project, which seeks to ask challenging questions of music, and specifically musical ambition and aspirations, in the current climate of precarious labour and hyper competition. Is it possible that musical aspirations are potentially making artists sick?