Podcast: What Musicians Could Learn from Sports Science

Paul Saintilan is the author of a groundbreaking new book called “Musicians & Addiction: Research & Recovery Stories” and the CEO of Music Australia. After spending several decades working in many facets of the music industry and for major record labels, Paul crafted this book which features dozens of real recovery stories from artists around the world.

We explore the two year journey he undertook to put “Musicians and Addiction” together, the myths it busts about creativity and substance abuse, his own experiences, the incredible work Support Act is doing to support musicians during the pandemic, and simple ways musicians can use sports science to improve their mental health and resilience.

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On what drove Paul to write “Musicians and Addiction”

Paul: What inspired me to get into it was I saw a lot of stats around it, which were just shocking. I mean, really shocking. And in fact, I saw even more shocking stats as I went into CrewCare and the stats they are publishing around roadies, and suicide and stuff. Unbelievable. So there was some shocking things that I saw.

But I suppose for me, one of the things that was most exciting and interesting was sports psychology and music. And the potential that there might be to actually take some of the insights in sports psychology – whether it’s in a mindfulness meditation or visualisation, or you know, sleep, practices, all sorts of things. There’s a lot of really smart thinking that’s going on in sport. And I think musicians could benefit a lot from these things.

There’s a high level of emotional intensity in our business. Add to that a high level of conflict, and a high level level of emotional turbulence. So it’s good to have tools to manage emotional turbulence and conflict and insecurity and all these sorts of things.

You know, there’s a lot of musicians that self-medicate performance anxiety with drugs and alcohol. If you’re an athlete, if you’re a sprinter or something, you might have the 100 metre Olympic final the next day. You’re going to sleep badly because it’s enormously important day but you’re not going to slug a bottle of whiskey and then walk out there to run that final. I mean, it just can’t happen. You know you will definitely lose if you do that. So this is why there’s enormous pressure being brought on athletes, but they’re not going to use drugs or they’re not going to use alcohol and certain types of drugs … to me, there’s a lot [for musicians] in a mindfulness, meditation and visualisation.

There’s a quote in the book, this musician says: “Any third rate athlete in Germany has their own sports psychologist, their own this, their own that.” And musicians, you just throw it in there. There’s no support – this, to me, shows a great opportunity.

How Support Act works with the Australian music community

Support Act is Australia’s premier organization dedicated to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of the music industry. Their new series “Tune Ups” goes deep into the personal journeys of artists, roadies and managers who’ve been to the brink and beyond, and lived to tell the tale. Watch the trailer below, or the full set of episodes here.


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