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Robbie Robertson Teams With Playing for Change for New Version of 'The Weight'

By Billboard

LONDON As the manager of Dua Lipa, Lana Del Rey and Ellie Goulding, Ben Mawson knows all about the pressures faced by young female musicians today.

"The modern climate with Instagram and social media can be extremely tough, particularly for female artists," says the London-based manager and co-founder of TaP Music, which also represents Hailee Steinfeld.

He points to the "particularly vicious" online abuse that Del Rey received early in her career as an example of the trolling that his clients have received and says the situation has only got worse as social media has grown in popularity.

"No matter how successful you are, the viciousness is very hard to take and ultimately it breeds anxiety and depression," he says. "The digital detox is something that a lot of our artists are increasingly feeling the need to do."

Improving mental health support across all aspects of society and business is an issue that has become very close to Mawson’s heart after two of his friends killed themselves within the space of a couple of weeks.

His subsequent discovery that suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the U.K. And the risk of suicide was almost 70% higher than the national average for females working in the creative industries (according to a 2017 British government report), shocked him into action.

"It really hit home hard," recalls Mawson, who promptly organized two charity events to raise funds for mental health charities. The first was a 24-hour 300km cycle ride from London to Paris that took place on Oct. 4. The second takes place this Friday (Oct. 11) when TaP hosts a football tournament in London that will see execs from across the British music industry compete against each other.

CAA, WME, Live Nation, Paradigm, UTA, Primary, Warner Records, Parlophone, Universal Records, Sony Records, Sony ATV, Universal Publishing and Warner Chappell are all supporting the event. Dua Lipa has also lent her backing to the fundraising drive, using the opportunity to call for the music industry to "start taking the mental health of artists seriously."

"I have benefitted so much from this industry but I see around me every day what others can suffer: the fear of failure, loneliness and the intense pressures of social media," the singer says in a statement.

Mawson hopes the two events will raise almost £100,000 ($120,000), which will be shared by My Black Dog, a peer-to-peer online mental health charity and CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). (Click here to donate.)

"If mental health is more publicly talked about and people are aware of these services a lot of lives can be saved," he says.

When it comes to the music industry, Mawson believes that the more that artists speak out about mental health issues the better it will become for everyone, raising awareness and understanding.

Getting social media companies to do more to tackle trolls is another area that TaP Music is advocating.

"Social media has definitely been helpful for people to connect and talk more openly about their mental health issues, but on the other hand people are more vulnerable to being triggered by content as well as bullying," says the company’s head of social media, Aria Alagha.

"Whilst each platform offers a way to report abuse of terms and bullying, there’s still a long way to go in how the platforms reward you in terms of likes, followers and engagements which carry a perceived value," adds Alagha.

The pressure that can put onto young people can be immense, says Mawson, who notes a changing approach in how artists are looking to interact and engage with fans as a result of online abuse.

For her forthcoming second album campaign he says Dua Lipa wants to return to more traditional methods of "going out there, meeting fans and having a more friendly interaction" with her followers.

"Much as she understands the benefits of social media, she also wants to open a more direct personal interaction with fans where the trolls get bypassed," says Mawson.

"The best advice you can give [artists] is just to ignore it, but it’s not always as easy as that," he continues. "Social media is a critical part of marketing and it’s a major part of being successful, so you can’t really opt out. But it is important to take a break from it when you need to."


Billboard

Billboard is the world's most influential music media brand reaching key executives and tastemakers in and around the music business through Billboard Magazine, Billboard.biz, Billboard Conferences, Billboard Bulletin, and other targeted newsletters,...

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