Professional musicians make their money on-stage, but that platform can also put them at risk. They often suffer from hearing loss and other ailments related to their work.
A new effort aims to improve healthcare for Seattle musicians.
“One of the most fundamental problems all musicians deal with is hearing loss, and you don't often realize that until it's too late,” said Ian Moore, who has been touring the globe for more than 30 years. He's performed with the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan and now has a solo career.
Moore recently founded SMASH - Seattle Musicians Access to Sustainable Healthcare. He's trying to help other musicians prioritize their health, without sacrificing the show.
“I've done entirely too many benefits for heart attacks, for diabetes, for things that were totally preventable for musicians that just didn't have access to preventative healthcare,” he said.
SMASH recently worked with the UW Speech and Hearing Department, and the Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center, to provide screenings for Seattle musicians.
“There are people who are half my age who are basically deaf or going deaf,” said Eric Madis, a guitarist, singer, and composer, who had his hearing tested.
Many musicians don't wear ear protection when they are performing. SMASH is helping fit artists with custom earplugs, which cut down noise levels and still allow them to hear a wide range of notes. The devices can cost hundreds of dollars, and SMASH is paying for them.
“This is a huge thing to take care of, and not enough people are doing it right now,” Moore said.
He says he's modeling his group off of a similar organization in Austin, called HAAM - Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, which provides dental work, doctor visits, prescriptions, eye exams, and many other services.
SMASH is mostly funded by small donations. The group says it hopes to secure larger grants and philanthropic funding so it can do much more than hearing screenings.