Music is a great way for people to express their emotions and stories to others in a way that complements their style and interests. Music can be happy, sad, serious, or dynamic. It is often the method some individuals choose to relay an important message. An important message can be related to serious topics, such as drugs, racism, and mental health.
Mental health is an ongoing concern that affects a variety of people, from students and athletes to musicians. In the case of musicians, their mental health struggles can stem from the demanding nature of tours and can be influenced by their fans’ responses to the cancellations of such tours.
To understand some of the factors that influence musicians’ decisions to cancel their tours and take a step back from their music, it is important to look at how tours in general can be overwhelming, and how fans’ responses to such news may either improve or worsen the musicians’ mental health struggles.
According to alternative singer-songwriter Carla Malrowe in an article for Banzoogle, the struggles that touring musicians experience parallels that of individuals who work in non-music industries, yet the stories shared are so profound and important in raising awareness towards how work is affected by environment.
Living and working on the road can be stressful. One common problem observed in touring is that musicians burnout from “working unusual hours in unusually harsh conditions,” Malrowe writes. Burnout is a real risk in any workplace but is especially heightened in touring because of unique circumstances: performing in different cities within a short timeframe, emotional instability resulting from pre-performance panic, loneliness, and isolation.
There are many musicians who have come forward and cited mental health concerns as the primary reason behind cancelling their tours. The Guardian commented on some musicians who have cancelled their tours—namely, Yard Act and Shawn Mendes. Yard Act felt the pressure of frequently playing bigger bookings, along with the increased pressure of critical acclaim and a Mercury nomination. Mendes, on the other hand, has been open about his crippling anxiety and how it affected his ability to sing, as well as his sensitivity to criticism. He admitted his drive to garner success often comes at the cost of his mental health.
There have been a range of fan reactions in regard to hearing the news of their favourite musicians cancelling their tours—from anger to empathy to encouragement. Some fans have expressed disappointment at the news, but acknowledged the importance of prioritizing mental health over performances that can always be pushed back to another time.
It is a huge responsibility that these musicians have taken on, prioritizing their mental health over music performances that can always be adjusted. However, it is because of their bravery and willingness to share their mental struggles that more people are more confident in coming forward and sharing their stories as well.