Why Musicians Are More Depressed Than Ever

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A couple of weeks ago, a rapper was giving a talk. See, after struggling for years, he’d finally notched #1 record — now, he was poised to become a really big deal.

And yet he admitted he was not relieved; actually, he was quite depressed.

Asked why, he said because with the ubiquity of social media and streaming, there wasn’t any time to do anything.

He can’t rejoice. He can’t even take a goddamn breath.

“So okay, I have a hit,” he explained. “But hits don’t really make as much money as they used to. So in order to really capitalize, I have to tour. Which I love doing, because I love performing and I love the fans. But the longer I’m on tour, the less I’m online, engaging, which is what everyone wants now.”

He said that the battle for people’s attention ends the minute he hits the road, because every minute he’s on stage is a minute he’s not online. When he’s not online, another artist can easily grab the attention he once commanded.

“It’s a gift and a curse,” he said. “I’ve never been bigger, and yet the bigger I get, the more it feels as if I’m being forgotten. The internet never goes off, so when I’m not doing something on it — releasing music, tweeting, posting photos — it’s like I disappear a little bit.”

He found this disheartening.

“Every second I’m living my dreams, which is the whole reason I began making music in the first place, is a second I’m not online, and that makes me somehow less relevant,” he said. “I can go all over the world, perform and interact with the fans, but nothing can reach more people than a simple Instagram photo.”

He summed it up rather succinctly: “I got a hit record… and yeah man, it fucking sucks.”

get in touch paulcantor@gmail.com

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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