Musicares Executive Director Laura Segura knows 2020’s unthinkable COVID-19 pandemic led to a focus on mental health that’s been overlooked. Moving from her role as Vice President of Membership & Industry Relations at the Recording Academy, she understands the many unrecognized challenges music makers, recording and live industry professionals and their extended families face.
“MusiCares has been doing this work for 30 years,” Segura says. “But I think it took the pandemic to really shake up peo¬ple’s perspectives. It’s not just healthy, it’s important because mental health is something that’s part of so much more.”
Since March 2020, MusiCares has raised over $24,000,000, assisting more than 30,000. Pro¬viding grants for rent and food, medical and dental assistance, in lieu of their annual Person of the Year gala, they staged Music on a Mission, which had 17,000 virtu¬al ticket buyers and over 850,000 supporter pages established.
“The pandemic was very equalizing. Everybody was asking the same question, ‘How am I going to get through this?’ There’s a stigma about mental health – we see it in rap and R&B, Latin communities, the South. Every group has different needs, but breaking down that stigma is essential.”
Their inaugural Wellness in Music Survey saw 26% of members who took the survey measuring moderate to severe depression; 34% had sought counseling for depression, anxiety and stress. Segura hopes that as the music industry begins to return to normal, the focus on emotional and mental health can remain a priority.
“We almost couldn’t distract ourselves any longer,” she says of the shutdown. “The forced stillness, having to be in our homes, created this reckoning moment where things that were unhealed were coming up. That’s good mental health.
“The biggest challenge is now we’re all so excited to get out and have the party of live music, it’s easy to forget those things again.”
May is Mental Health Aware¬ness Month. Segura and her team are creating a series of programs and groups to spark honest con-versation around the issue. With a general Cyber Emotional Sup¬port Group meeting twice weekly, there are also focused groups for Black Music, LGBTQ and Women seeking support.
Recognizing the power of educating young people, Grammy U and MusiCares are teaming with MTV for a Mental Health Action Day. Culminating in a conversa¬tion with Phoebe Bridgers, the event aims to get teens talking and thinking about their mental health coming out of a highly stressful time.
“What we learned as an organi¬zation is we have to listen deeply to our clients to understand their needs. We can’t be satisfied with one size fits all help; we need to be flexible to meet people where they are.”
The business philosophy you live by?
Servant leadership fuels my approach to business and how I create our team dynamic. This was true even before I came to MusiCares, but now that I am at a company so deeply committed to service on all levels, I feel at home. I’m proud to be part of a team that cares about giving to others and helping make our corner of the world a better place.
Which music artist or band has most helped you get through this year?
I can’t pick just one! Music helps me get through everything in life.
I think I would say it is the thousands of artists who dedicated their home livestreams to MusiCares during the pandemic. It was amazing to watch our community come together to support one another any way they knew how.
The artist you would most like to see live when touring and festivals return?
I’d love to go to a Beyoncé show. I miss that huge energy at her live shows; the combination of theatrics, dance, rabid fans and powerful music.
When it’s safe to do so, will you go back to the office, work remotely or a combination of both? Why?
I’ll do whatever it takes from wherever I am.
How do you think livestreaming will or won’t be integrated into your business going forward?
After the success of our virtual event during GRAMMY Week this year, we are exploring how to have livestream elements during our live Person of the Year event. That is normally a private fundraiser that is tough to get a ticket to, so it is fun to think of the virtual ways we could share it with new audiences.
Zoom, Clubhouse or TikTok? Why?
After a year of every meeting being on Zoom video, Clubhouse audio-only is a welcome reprieve.