Musician on stage performing with hearing protection to protect against tinnitus and hearing loss.

If you’re a professional musician, your hearing is your living. So protecting their hearing should be a high priority for every musician. But in general, that’s not the case. In fact, there’s a pervasive culture of fatalism when it comes to hearing in the music business. The predominant attitude appears to be: “it’s just part of the job”.

But various new legal legislations and a focused effort to confront that culture finally seem to be changing that mindset. It should never be regarded as just “part of the job” to cause hearing loss. When there are proven ways to safeguard the hearing, that’s particularly true.

When You Are in a Loud Environment, Protect Your Hearing

Of course, musicians are not the only people who are subjected to a noisy workplace environment. Nor are they the only class of workers who have developed a fatalistic approach to the injury as a consequence of loud noise. But other occupations, such as construction or manufacturing, have been faster to embrace basic levels of ear protection.

There are most likely a number of reasons for this:

  • Musicians need to be able to hear rather well while performing, even when they’re performing the same material regularly. There can be some resistance to hearing protection that seems as though it might impede one’s hearing ability. This resistance is commonly rooted in false information, it should be mentioned.
  • In many artistic industries, there’s a feeling that you should feel lucky just to be given an opportunity, that no matter how harshly you’re treated, there’s someone else who would be happy to be in your position. So some musicians might not want to rock the boat or whine about inadequate hearing protection.
  • A construction or manufacturing environment is replete with hazards (hard hat required, as the saying goes). So construction workers, site foremen, and managers are likely more accustomed to donning protective equipment.

This “part of the job” culture impacts more than just the musicians, unfortunately. Others who work in the music business, from roadies to bartenders, are implicitly supposed to buy into what is essentially an extremely damaging mindset.

Changing Norms

There are two reasons that this is transforming, thankfully. A landmark legal ruling against The Royal Opera House in London is the first. A viola player, during a performance, was subjected to 130dB of sound when she was placed directly in front of the brass section. That’s about the sound equivalent of a full-sized jet engine!

Hearing protection needs to always be provided when someone is going to be subjected to that much noise. But that wasn’t the situation, and the viola player suffered severe hearing damage because of that lack of protection, damage that involved long battles with tinnitus.

When the courts handed down a ruling against the Royal Opera House and handed down a ruling in favor of the viola player, it was a definite message that the music industry would need to take hearing protection regulations seriously, and that the music industry should commit to hearing protection for every employee and contractor and should not think of itself a special case.

Hearing Loss Shouldn’t be The Fate of a Musician

In the music business the number of those who have tinnitus is mindblowingly high. And that’s why there’s a campaign to boost awareness worldwide.

Everyone from wedding DJs to classical music performers to rock stars and their roadies are in danger of experiencing “acoustic shock,” a response to very loud noises which includes the onset of tinnitus, hyperacusis, and hearing loss. There is an escalating chance of having irreversible injury the more acoustic shock a person withstands.

You can be protected without limiting musical abilities by wearing earplugs that are specifically manufactured for musicians or other modern hearing protection devices. You’ll still be able to hear what you need to hear, but your ears will be safeguarded.

Changing The Culture in The Music Industry

The correct hearing protection hardware is available and ready. Changing the mindset in the music business, at this point, is the key to protecting the hearing of musicians. This undertaking, though it’s a big one, is one that’s already demonstrating results (the judgment against the Royal Opera House has definitely provided some urgency for the industry to pay attention to this problem).

In the industry, tinnitus is extremely common. But it doesn’t need to be. It doesn’t matter what your job is, hearing loss shouldn’t ever be “just part of the job”.

Do you play music professionally? Contact us to find out how to safeguard your hearing without hurting your performance.