Creating Touring and Mental Health: the Music Industry Manual

Founder of Music Industry Therapist Collective and Editor of Touring and Mental Health: the Music Industry Manual, Tamsin Embleton takes the hot seat.

What was the idea behind Touring and Mental Health: the Music Industry Manual?

“I tour managed Anna Calvi across Europe on the Grinderman 2 Tour in 2010. I realised that I had been sending bands I was managing out on the road and underestimating the toll it might take on them. Late nights, changeable sleep environments, stress, travel and stimulation contributed to sleep deprivation. Quite quickly, I became bored of living off party food, but we had very little money and, as I was stressed, I wasn’t making good lifestyle choices. I was getting ratty. I often think back to our wonderful and very patient sound engineer, Rich Burt – he put up with a lot!

“I met people along the way who missed the children they’d left at home, and I started to realise that *some* of the acting out, excess and withdrawal I’d witnessed for years backstage was a response to the stressful conditions touring people were enduring. As I say a lot when I’m public speaking, even before you consider the stressors touring brings, it takes you away from resources and protective factors like the people, places, and practices that usually help you feel stable. 

“After a stint at Metropolis Studios as Events Manager, I made the leap and decided to retrain as a psychotherapist. In 2016, I started to examine the psychological impact of touring as my MA research and I’ve been doing that ever since. The book is a culmination of six years of research and features original interview material with 80 or so touring professionals and artists. 

“When Michael Rapino at Live Nation offered sponsorship, I brought on board a team of specialists writing on trauma, stress, addiction (including sex and porn), nutrition, sleep science, hearing health, vocal health, sexual health, general health, various forms of anxiety (including performance and fear of flying), exercise, meditation, breathwork, group dynamics, anger management, mindset… You name it – we’ve covered it!”

Do you hope the manual will be referred to by the music industry in years to come?

“Hopefully, this book will facilitate some conversations about doing things differently and provide people with some suggestions for how to tour in a more sustainable way. Maybe it will help people understand that touring can be a wild and fun adventure, and a great opportunity to hone your craft, meet your fans and bring your records to life, while simultaneously being very stressful to mind, brain, body and relationships. It’s not either/or – it’s both. Cumulative stress takes a toll physically and psychologically.”

Where can people pick up a copy? 

“It’s available globally via Amazon. In the UK, you can buy it in Rough Trade, Waterstones and Omnibus Press. If you’re based in the UK, and you’re quick, you can nab a discount via the publisher, Omnibus Press. For 20% off one to five copies, use the code: 5KGX7W839H0Z at checkout. For a 25% discount on orders of five books or more, use the code: ZRMB3XZQXGGM at checkout.