Music Australia News

Music Australia Announces the Publication of Musicians & Addiction: Research and Recovery Stories

Paul Saintilan
| June 22, 2020

Music Australia’s book Musicians & Addiction: Research and Recovery Stories is now published and available for purchase as a paperback or eBook. There is a growing international consensus that we are facing a mental health crisis among musicians, and addiction is a critical dimension of this problem. This book provides a unique, multi-faceted overview of the topic, and brings the life and death nature of the challenge vividly to life.

The first section of the book presents a literature review of over 230 published research studies and articles on the topic, demonstrating the extraordinary vulnerability musicians have towards addiction. Contributory factors are explored, such as performance anxiety, the use of drugs with creative intent, the cultural and workplace pressures of the industry, and the industry attracting people who use music as medicine to work through their demons. Section 2 presents 12 excerpts from interviews and autobiographies of well known musicians (including Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly, Tash Sultana, James Freud, Eminem and Herbie Hancock), 12 specially commissioned personal recovery stories from musicians working across multiple genres, and a series of professional perspectives. The final section of the book summarises implications and practical advice for individual musicians, organisations and the industry as a whole. The Australian, UK and US music industries are equally represented in the book.

The devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the music industry, recent tragedies with pharmaceutical drugs in hip hop, the ubiquitous problem of musicians self-medicating performance anxiety with drugs and alcohol, and recent studies in the UK and Australian music industries all show that this issue remains a contemporary problem.

Music Australia is enormously grateful for the support we have received across the music and addiction recovery media:

  • Our music industry support has been led by The Music Network and we were very grateful for ArtsHub’s support in publicising the project to the broader arts community
  • In the addiction recovery media, the US magazine RenewEvery Day featured our summary of contributory factors that heighten the vulnerability of musicians
  • Five radio interviews have been broadcast with book contributors on 2SER, Curtin FM, ABC Radio Brisbane and US radio;
  • Niche publications have examined specific dimensions such as The Tattooed Buddha in the USA which looked at the use of meditation and visualisation as a recovery tool by a number of musicians in the book (If you use drugs and alcohol to manage emotional turbulence, what tools will you use to manage this if you get off drugs and alcohol?).

At a time when the social fabric appears to be straining, one of the wonderful things about a project like this is the enormous goodwill and generosity of spirit that is generated. The cancellation of Music Australia’s launch events has robbed us of a chance to acknowledge in person the whole community of contributors and organisations who have come together around our project, and to everyone, we say thank you. We encourage supporters of the project to link to the companion website and support us on social media (eg

On the subject of acknowledging generosity, Dr Wendell Rosevear, a Queensland contributor to the project has turned into the most generous and impactful advocate for the project within Queensland, and we thank him enormously. He sent copies to key political and media connection in Queensland at his own expense and appeared with another contributor (Dr John Willsteed) on Brisbane radio discussing musicians and addiction.

Music Australia is proud to place a timely spotlight on this issue, which it sees as a campaign rather than a permanent focus, potentially part of a series.

Multiple project endorsements from music industry figures, recovery figures, and academics can be found at: For further information email [email protected] or [email protected]

Australian Retail Links:

The book’s recommended retail price is AUD$27.50 and it can be purchased in the following ways:


Kindle eBook:  (note that the eBook versions do not contain photos, figures and images that appear in the paperback)

Stay in the loop

Music Australia updates straight to your inbox

Follow Like
Quick Links


  • National clearing house for policy & development

  • Music Journal

    Features articles about the Music Industry Sector

  • Music Talks

    Series of seminars exploring music