The Brag Media
News September 1, 2022

‘Music Industry Review’ Presents ‘Compelling Evidence’ of Abuse, Calls For Reform In the Workplace

‘Music Industry Review’ Presents ‘Compelling Evidence’ of Abuse, Calls For Reform In the Workplace

“High rates” of bullying, sexism and harassment continue to plague the music industry, though the vast majority of incidents go unreported, a damning new report has found.

The review into sexual harm, harassment, and systemic discrimination across the contemporary music industry is now published in full.

It paints an ugly picture of predatory actions and unacceptable behaviour in the spaces where the music industry gets work done, and unwinds at the end of the day.

The long-awaited study, Raising their Voices, captured insights and experiences from 1,600 people from across the industry, including 1,300 surveys and the stories of over 300 music industry people.

The content of it “may be distressing,” reads the introduction.

What the months-long review found was that sexual harassment, sexual harm and bullying is rife in the workplace, with many incidents occurring in the past five years.

Among the key findings are:

  • Of those surveyed, 55% have experienced some form of workplace sexual harassment and sexual harm in their career. This includes 72% of women surveyed and 39% of men surveyed.
  • In the past five years, 33% of those surveyed said they had experienced at least one incident of sexual harassment.
  • 74% of perpetrators of sexual harassment were men, and 25% were women.
  • Sexual harassment occurred mostly at music venues (45%) followed by the office (21%) or a work-related event (17%).
  • Bullying was experienced by 76% of survey participants at some point in their career in the industry.
  • Women were more likely to be bullied than men. In the past 5 years, 81% of women surveyed were bullied, compared with 67% of men surveyed.
  • The perpetrator of bullying was more likely to be a man (67%) than a woman (28%).

The effect of these behaviours can be “severe and long-term,” reads a summary from the report’s authors, with many of those who experienced or witnessed harm ultimately silenced out of concerns on the repercussions for their careers and health should they speak out.

The report doesn’t identify individuals, the victims or advocates, but instead creates a blueprint for action.

And from it, 17 recommendations for change are made which, combined, amount to sweeping reforms for the industry. 

Among them, the creation within the next 3-6 months of a “Contemporary Music Industry Cultural Reform Council” to address sexual harm, sexual harassment, bullying and systemic discrimination,” plus a zero-tolerance approach by employers.

The Council should, within 12 months from launch, roll out ongoing education and awareness industry-wide campaigns, the review suggests. 

“We want to acknowledge the courage of those victim survivors and everyone who shared their stories as part of this review,” comments Emily Collins, managing director MusicNSW and a member of the temporary working group set up to oversee the review.

“Bringing this information to light is a critical first step in understanding not only the extent of harm that has occurred but also setting out a clear path for the music industry to improve and strengthen its workplace culture for everyone.”

Adds Julia Robinson, outgoing managing director Australian Festivals Association and temporary working group member, “Leaders in the music industry have a collective responsibility to use their influence to drive widespread change and create a safe and inclusive workplace built on respect.”

The Review into Sexual Harm, Sexual Harassment, and Systemic Discrimination in the National Music Industry was announced late last year, the goal of which is to learn and talk with all communities and roles within the music industry to understand what the sector looks like right now.

Authored by consultants Alexandra (Alex) Shehadie and Sam Turner, the project is a broad review of the workplace culture of the music industry “through the lens of sexual harm, sexual harassment and systemic discrimination,” collecting comment from across the business, including songwriters and composers to artists and performers, crew, agents, members of the live touring companies and record labels, promoters, employees of record companies, managers, publishers, venue managers and staff and company execs.

The publication of the report today (Sept. 1) caps a comprehensive six-month consultation process.

The review, auspiced by music industry charity Support Act, was unveiled with support from lobby bodies APRA AMCOS, ARIA, PPCA and Australia Council, and a total target budget of $400,00.

“The Raising Their Voices Report marks a watershed moment for all of us in the music industry. It provides compelling evidence of the hurt and suffering that persistent bullying, sexual harassment, sexual harm and exclusion in our industry has caused,” reads a statement issued early Thursday from APRA AMCOS.

The PRO “accepts the findings of the national Music Industry Review and is committed to considering the recommendations and working with our colleagues in the industry to implement those recommendations. We support the accompanying Music Industry Joint Statement issued today that acknowledges the hurt and the harm. It is right to say sorry: we have all been part of an industry where people have been hurt and have caused hurt.”

In that joint statement, the music industry welcomes the review, thanks its contributors and calls for change. 

“Everyone has the right to work in an environment free from bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault and discrimination. As disturbing and confronting as the findings are, the Australian music industry is committed to change and to rebuilding trust,” reads a message, signed by dozens of music companies and organisations.

“The music industry should – and will – foster safe, welcoming, respectful, creative, and fun environments.”

By issuing a joint message, the music industry address one of the 17 recommendations, a “statement of acknowledgement” which contains a commitment to implement the recommendations from the report.

The message continues, “We have been listening and have heard your calls for change. We can and will continue to do better. We all can.”

Award-winning artist and temporary working group member Deena Lynch wants action to follow.

“It has taken a lot of sacrifice and energy from survivors to establish awareness but it can’t stop there,” she explains.

“Awareness is just a first step, there is much more work to be done to address specific issues, bring about a cultural shift and begin to reform.”

Lynch, who performs as Jaguar Jonze, adds, “We now require commitment to change and action. I hope that with the Music Industry Review report, industry leaders will commit to and implement the recommendations to begin the process of creating safe arts workplaces.”

Read the report in full here

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