8 Bad Habits That Make Musicians Depressed
Depression And Music Producers– A Taboo Subject In The Music Industry
We all see the Instagram posts of our favorite djs, musicians, music producers, etc. playing out their shows, partying, and hitting a life on the road. Everything they post consistently tries to paint the picture that they are “living the dream.” Inevitably, this accelerates the hunger for success in the minds of many up and coming artists, pushing them to do whatever it takes to make it big.
The problem is, it’s easy to get lost in this mindset, and even easier to start ignoring, abusing, or eliminating other factors in your life that are a fundamental contribution to your happiness. Little daily activities that make you happy might not seem important when catapulting yourself towards a music career, but they are.
While diving deeper into music production, I found consistent bad habits that either I struggled with myself, or close friends and acquaintances in my circle. I’m writing this article with the hope that our experiences might help you out, or better prepare you for what’s to come if you’re creating a music career.
Here are some of the most common bad habits we found amongst musicians, music producers, audio engineers, and more:
1) Staying Indoors For Too Long
The hustle is real. We all get it. We all know the guys & gals who flaunt their “12-16 hour work days,” trying to outshine and out work everyone around them. Somehow we’ve painted a picture that they will somehow be far better off than their counterparts that “only” put in 8 hours a day.
This is bullshit.
I know this because I tried 16 hour studio days and what I found was– nothing really that productive happened. Granted, I wrote a lot of music, but what I realized is that some of my best music, songs that did commercially better, were produced during a point in my life where I spent more time outdoors. And a lot of the songs I never ended up finishing, or my music that had poor public review, were songs I wrote while barely even seeing the sun.
Vitamin D deficiency is real, and human beings were not made to stay indoors for long extended periods of time. Go explore your city, create experiences and connections within the real world, and watch how it reflects in your music, and your overall well-being. You may shock yourself.
2) Comparing Yourself To Others
Why don’t my chords sounds like Illenium?
I’ll never perform as well as Bassnectar…
I wish I could mix like Noisia!
Drop these thoughts off when you get into your studio. Actually, throw them in the f**king trash because comparative thinking is far more self-destructive than you think.
These artists became great at what they do because they are in competition with themselves, not anyone else. Greatness, or happiness, is not achieved by winning over a competitor, it is won by overcoming your own inhibitions, fears, challenges, etc. And through this perseverance, you prove to yourself that you’re capable of achieving your goals. Once you drop comparing your success to the success of others, your energy transforms and you’ll find the passion you once had when you first started making music.
3) Fearing Failure
It’s strange why this thought is so powerful. I mean, if you don’t end up becoming a successful music producer, it’s not like you’ll suddenly drop dead. I assume it stems from a primitive thought process of making bad choices in dangerous situations, but that’s a topic for another day.
“…when the fear rises up in your belly, you use it. And you know that fear is powerful, because it has been there for billions of years. And it is good. And you use it.” Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby
Yes, I just quoted Talladega Nights, and not once had I ever thought I would write an article where I would do this… But, I stand by this quote because the point is clear– fear is an undeniably powerful emotion that you can either utilize for the good, or the bad. It’s purely a tool and only you have the ability to use it as fuel.
You’re worried you won’t make it?
Good. Get back in the studio.
You’re worried about what your friends think?
Good. Get back in the studio.
You’re worried other producers in your circle will make it, but you won’t?
Good. Get back in the studio.
See how easy it is to flip that fear into a positive?
4) Bad Diet & No Exercise
This is a classic. I can’t count how many music producers I know that eat poorly, don’t exercise, and then they complain about how shitty they feel all the time. The causes here are plain and simple, and it doesn’t take any type of professional to recognize the signs.
People around me ask how I am able to stay in shape, eat healthy, etc. And my answer is always the same:
It is not that hard.
You’ve dedicated yourself to music, so dedicate your mind to the health of your body. If you’re in really deep with poor dieting and no exercise– start small. During your studio breaks, go running in the park, or go lift weights. When you get hungry, replace chips with fruit. Don’t overeat. Drop beer or soda for water. Drink lots and lots of water while writing out those chords. You’ll shed weight faster and you’ll start feeling like a new person, and this will reflect in both your music and overall happiness.
5) Hanging Around The Wrong People
Your mind is highly malleable, and can change for the worse when you surround yourself with people that either are lazy or don’t believe in themselves. This is a very easy trap for musicians to fall into, and it can instantly lower your self-esteem.
In this case, words can actually hurt you. For some, hearing things like, “you’re going to fail” or “you aren’t made for this,” can spiral them into a negative state. Not everyone has nerves of steel, and some of the greatest musicians I’ve met have been very sensitive individuals.
It’s important for music producers to stay emotionally strong, and a great way to do this is to hang out with other ambitious types that are trying to make it in creative/entrepreneurial fields. Find a squad that supports one-another, that truly listens when you talk, and that supports you when you’re down, and this energy helps push you forward!
6) Worrying About What Loved Ones Think
Atonement Of The Father is a big hurdle. When I hear people talk about “walking through the fire,” this is where I felt these flames. Even though I run Melody Nest alongside my music now, I still feel the effects because entrepreneurship and music production go hand in hand.
I have struggled with this, and at times it has been overwhelming. Just because I am okay with the career choices I have made, doesn’t necessarily mean my family will feel the same way. They might believe in me, but perhaps not in my personal ambitions and dreams.
How can we fight this?
Any time you start worrying about what your family/friends might think of you, work even harder. The only person you have to prove anything to in this fleeting life, ever, is yourself.
Coincidentally, a lot of these negative feelings that manifest in your head can also stem from your own self-doubt, and a great way to overcome this is to reach your goals. Prove to yourself that you’re capable of making this happen, and you’ll become more self-confident.
7) Shutting Out Friends & Family
Conversely, do not ignore your loved ones!
It’s very easy to be swept up by the strong gravity of our music production cave. I know because I once was doing this and shutting the world out. But what I learned was– my music did not suffer because I chose to spend adequate time with the people that are important to me. Rather, because I made an effort to see them, it helped me re-enter the creative space and helped me write better music when I returned to my music studio.
Think about the people that matter to you, and reach out to them. Right now. Pick up your phone and contact them and hear a friendly voice. You will instantly feel a little bit better, become more creative, and this can reflect in the quality of your work too.
8) Drugs & Alcohol
This is a simple one. Watch your intake of intoxicants– especially on a day to day basis.
It’s no secret that drugs and alcohol can play devastating effects on your mental state, and cause people that are prone to depression to fall down a dark path. There is lots of data that links creative types to depression and substance abuse, so keep an eye on yourself. Just because you’re playing a show and hanging out backstage, doesn’t mean you need to over do it. For fans at the show, this is an escape for them. For you– it’s business.
Perhaps you’re reading this article and you’ve just started making music, maybe you’ve been going for a couple years or even decades. Perhaps you know much more about the world of music than I do. Nevertheless, my point isn’t to sound like an expert.
I sat down to write this article to share some insights and to explain what I felt during my process of writing music full time, and what I did to help combat the overwhelming negativity that can occur in this lifestyle. All I want to do is further prove that we all can find happiness, and just because you’ve chosen music production for your career, doesn’t mean you need to forget the outside world. Go live your life, and watch how both you, and your music, will grow.
My name is Nick Voorhees, and i’m an Icon Collective graduate, music producer, and owner of Melody Nest. I’ve spent a good portion of my life creating music, and I just want to share some of the things i’ve learned along the way. I hope this at least a little helpful.