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I am very interested in the issue of mental health in the music business and the role that pets play in promoting better mental health. This comes not only from my own personal experience, but also as a music coach and educator during lockdown when I became acutely aware from my students of the wellbeing link between mental health and pets. Many of my students, who were focusing on creative arts and song-writing, battled with mental health - but they often had a more positive outlook during lockdown if they had a close bond with a pet. As a result, I decided to test this idea more broadly through national research.

The findings from a national survey of 2,000 adults commissioned by our company found that 50% of pet owners say their beloved four-legged friends get excited by music. Some dance around, some jump up and down or just get over-excited – just like humans! It seems that dogs are born to be wild for classic rock (37%), classical cats like to curl up with orchestral sounds (31%) and those hipster hamsters love a bit of rap (42%).

Whilst the research showed people’s pets reacted positively to different genres of music, the data also polled musicians and found that 76% struggled with mental health - but a huge 94% of those that had pets said they brought positive wellbeing and creative influence into their creative routines. And the most popular choice of pet for musicians was a dog.

So where in the UK are you most likely to find the UK’s rock dogs?

Rock venues and festivals in Scotland, Wales and Humberside may want to start thinking about making their venues pet-friendly – because that’s where the nation’s ‘rock dogs’ live. In these regions, around one in four pet owners said the soaring guitar anthems and catchy choruses of rock music made it the music of choice for their four-legged friends:

· Yorkshire / Humberside - 27%

· Scotland - 23%

· Wales - 23%

· North East - 22%

· London - 21%

· East - 15%

· North West - 14%

· South West - 14%

· West Midlands - 14%

· East Midlands - 13%

· South East - 13%

And a final twist from the research, at a time when more women are shaping the rock genre today, the output also corrected the old adage that a man’s best friend is a dog. In Britain today, it is women that are more likely to have a dog (31% Vs. 28%) and are also more likely to cite wellbeing benefits of owning one (91% Vs. 84%).

The research was conducted for Rebecca Downes Music Ltd among a national representative sample of 2,000 adults in February 2023.

As a songwriter, music coach and teacher, every day I see the mental health challenges that young musicians face. The succession of lockdowns, which threatened the very existence of live music – coupled with the current cost of living crisis – makes the life of a musician today precarious. A strong connection with animals does help, I experience it myself with my beloved dog Ralph, who brings a loving smile to my face whatever kind of day I’m having. From our research, it’s great to see dogs also love rock music - it is, after all, a genre of music that’s deeply rooted in British culture. Even today we’re seeing the rock genre rise again, with a new generation of British bands crashing back into the charts. Ultimately, whether a human or a dog, who can’t react to a great anthem, a singalong chorus or an infectious guitar riff to lift the day?

There’s more to come from this research – so keep looking out for further updates.

And if you want to know more, please email us.

Rebecca xx

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