News May 18, 2021

Industry bodies respond to backlash about ‘closed door’ #MeToo meeting

Industry bodies respond to backlash about ‘closed door’ #MeToo meeting

Industry bodies and have responded to the frustration and criticism about its forthcoming meeting to address the music industry’s catastrophic sexual assault, harassment and abuse problem.

The meeting between a few select industry representatives is due to take place next week as a “first step” to addressing the problem, before further, wider initiatives are rolled out.

News of the meeting emerged this week following a string of allegations from artists and people working in the industry alleging a culture of cover-ups, rape and legal threats.

Since then, a number of people have spoken out criticising the meeting, noting that those who put their names and careers on the line by making allegations against the powers that be are yet to be included in the discussion. Others felt that only having high-powered industry organisations involved, rather than the individuals affected and those pushing for change, could be a performative action which only acts as a further protection racket for perpetrators.

Australian artist Ash Waterman, who performs as Azure, is one such voice. Waterman alleged she was sexually assaulted and shared her story in The Industry Observer’s explosive expose on the industry’s nefarious underbelly.

She has since questioned why, when she and fellow survivors are the ones taking all the risks, they are not being included in the discussion.

“I want to be at the Sydney meeting or, at the very least, I want to know someone I trust is there to represent me and the other people who have come forward and taken the brunt of the initial response,” she said.

“We took the risk. We deserve to be in the room. How could the people who support so many of our abusers possibly know what we are fighting for?”

TMN reached out to both ARIA and APRA AMCOS for their responses to the accusations that the meeting was performative and problematic because it involves some of the very people it should be holding accountable.

The full exchange, including a joint statement from APRA AMCOS/ ARIA as well as a separate comment from ARIA CEO , is below so as not to remove any information or context from the discussion and provide full detail’s of the meeting’s agenda and next steps.

Enquiry from The Music Network to ARIA and APRA AMCOS: 

Hi,

There’s been quite a mixed response to the move by ARIA, APRA AMCOS and PPCA to gather to discuss cultural change in the music industry amidst all the #MeToo allegations.

I know there are intentions to open the discussion up to a broader range of participants down the line, however there are concerns (from some) at the moment that this initial gathering is too “closed door” and perhaps part of the protection racket that is a key part of the problem.

Some people see this move as “performative” and involving some of the very people who need to be held accountable.

Can I please have a response from APRA AMCOS/ ARIA on these frustrations from some in the industry who feel not enough is being done?

Would also be good to get a picture of what success will look like for this initial meeting. What does APRA AMCOS/ ARIA want to achieve/ what is the ideal outcome from the first meeting next week?

Would be great to have something on the record so that the people contacting us in distress/ confusion have a better/ clearer picture of the wider plan and how they can get involved/ have their voice heard down the line.

Thanks.
Viv

The joint APRA AMCOS, ARIA and PPCA response: 

Next week we’re having an initial conversation to start the ball rolling. The purpose of this first meeting is scope out the logistics and to explore some baseline questions including:

  • How will we resource this work?
  • How will we fund it?
  • How do we enable the broadest participation from interested parties across our industry? What approaches do we need to take? (Several roundtables? Written submissions? A combination of strategies?)
  • Who should facilitate the discussion across these multiple stakeholders?
  • What external expertise do we need to engage to ensure the conversation is held in a safe and inclusive way, where people can talk openly?
  • What governance frameworks do we need to establish to ensure oversight and accountability?

SoundCheck Aotearoa and the New Zealand music community have been engaging widely on this same topic and a representative will join the discussion to share some of their experience so it can inform the approach we take to pulling together the roundtable.

This meeting is just a starting point that we hope will be a gateway to a much wider discussion including many voices and perspectives from across our industry which are integral to identifying the issues, the solutions, and developing a plan for change. We know there are many people who will want to be a part of this discussion and change and we welcome their participation and contribution.

A further statement from ARIA and PPCA CEO Annabelle Herd:

The meeting next week is just a very small first step toward a much greater reckoning that must, and will, occur within the music industry and will involve many people from across the sector and its communities.

The meeting, for which invites were sent on 4 May, was simply intended as a discussion and a starting point, for a broad spectrum of industry figures to begin to understand what a plan to enact real change would look like.

With the saddening findings of Dr Crabtree and last week’s reporting, the broader industry discussion surrounding this issue has progressed significantly and, with it, our sense of urgency has increased significantly. We plan to move, and we plan to move fast. ARIA and APRA have made an official statement outlining all we are determined to achieve from this kick-off meeting.

I completely understand the frustration and the sentiment that some are expressing. There are many passionate and dedicated people in music who have been working on these issues for years. The voices of those involved in this initial discussion are definitely not the only voices that must be heard in this initiative, but this is the first step to bring the threads together into an industry-wide movement for lasting change.

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