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Musicians, touring, making it and being Pressure Sensitive

Welcome to my 9th piece of writing. I have avoided the standard trope surrounding ‘Music Industry Touring’ difficulties so far… it’s only appropriate I now lean into this huge wobbly and subjective area.


Waaaay back in the late 80’s two researchers (Wills & Cooper) wrote an amazing book ‘Pressure Sensitive’. When I first read this book around ten years ago, it helped me to understand the stressors that other musicians had always faced, (well, at least since the 80’s) it wasn’t just me! Other people had been thinking and writing about it.

In my own experience, being a touring musician was glowingly glorious but disastrously destructive on many levels. From the crowd’s perspective, it translated into a mass of excitement and the exuberant swim in your favourite band’s (or DJs) sonic expression. I also started my musicking as a fan, travelling up and down the country watching my favourite groups or immersing myself in the hedonistic clublands of the early 90’s.


From being one of those fans that waited outside for an autograph or a brief unworldly exchange with a band member. I had now become one of those band members! You want me to sign that! These earlier experiences shifted for me when I became one of the insiders…I had ‘made it!’. Making it was a surreal experience psychologically but one I would not change (and I subsequently feel far more able to straddle these grounds as I have aged and developed a much stronger sense of who I am). This enhanced self-awareness has mostly been down to my own therapy, clinical training and ongoing experience as a performer…anyway...back to this classic book.


‘Pressure Sensitive’ and their other academic research was the first piece of writing that prompted my own exploration and one that still enables me to acknowledge the complexity of being a working musician. Ultimately it provided an insider perspective which helped me to identify and validate my own journey, this was the main impetus for my own academic research (doctoral..ahem) and applying this within the Peer Groups I run at Tonic Music. You can learn more about the Tonic Rider, Peer Support Group here.


I feel the validation and identification prompted from these groups facilitates a stronger connection to who we are as people and musicians. These groups allow us to be heard without having to explain the life! For example, one dominant area I often hear manifesting within the groups and from my own research is how musicians feel shame after acknowledging how difficult the touring life can be. Even throughout the interviews for the Tonic Music Radio show, (link below) musicians will often say ‘but I can’t complain’, to which I respond with, ‘yes you can, we all can’, well, we can all at least be heard when talking about how hard it can be. This next series of blogs will explore some of these difficulties we face when touring.


Don’t forget, if you are a musician and struggling to be heard, the Peer Support Groups provide a resource to air these views with a group of like-minded individuals well versed in this terrain.


 

Adam Ficek hosts a monthly show 'Tonic Music' on Totally Wired Radio, where he talks to various guests about music and mental health. You can listen again to any of the previous show on the Tonic Music Mixcloud page.


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