In recent years, the music business has witnessed an important reckoning when it comes to the treatment and respect of women. But have lessons been learned and what processes and systems have been put in place to prevent a repetition of the same mistakes? Have major employers including labels, publishers, performing rights societies and live production companies changed and if so, how? If not, why not?
Recently in Australia a major 61-year-old executive has been in the frame and charged with raping a female artist in 2013. Yet this accused executive has not had to attend court in person instead being represented by his lawyers.
Most importantly, do staff working within the industry feel safer than they did previously? What and where are the areas that still require action to make them feel safe? Going further do young upcoming artists who have traditionally been the prey of these menacing and abusive perpetrators, feel they are supported enough within their roles to not be scared to report inappropriate behaviours?
It is vitally important that sanctions against perpetrators are widely reported and documented so both the industry and the wider community know abuse is not being pushed away under the carpet. In the US, New York State recently passed The Adult Survivors Act (the “ASA”). It is a landmark new law that re-opens the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims in New York, even if the victim was an adult at the time of the abuse. This law, which just recently went into effect, allows for victims to sue their abusers for acts committed years ago. E. Jean Carroll, one of Donald Trump’s many accusers, was probably the first to utilize the ASA and file a suit against Trump.
Dorothy Carvello, Ahmet Ertegun’s former assistant, told her story of extreme sexual abuse in the record industry in her 2018 book, “Anything for A Hit: An A&R Woman’s Story of Surviving the Music Industry”. Ms. Carvello told harrowing stories of the abuse she suffered at the hands of many of the titans of the music industry. She has filed a lawsuit against the Warner Music Group, Atlantic Records, Ertegun’s estate, Jason Flom and Doug Morris, citing years of extreme sexual abuse. She has also recently launched Face The Music Now, a foundation focused specifically on helping survivors of sexual harassment and abuse in the music business get their stories out and report their abuse.
Several music industry figures have been outed as abusers: Ryan Adams, Marylin Manson and R. Kelly alongside powerful executives like Russell Simmons, Charlie Walk and producer/songwriter Doctor Luke have all had their careers destroyed because of their previous behaviour.
No doubt these are steps forward, but will it be enough? In response to the serious abuse of army trainees, our Australian Chief of Defence Angus Campbell stated, “the standard you walk by is the standard you accept”.
In my own view we need to be stronger. Just because you might be scared of losing your job, that’s still no valid excuse for walking by and ignoring sexual abuse, harassment and bullying. If you do not stand up and state very clearly this behaviour is not acceptable you ARE part of the problem and not the solution!
If you have experienced or witnessed such abuse going on please do let us know by providing information on our tips page where you our readers cna tip us off to any news you believe is relevant. We will treat all sources confidentially and you can let us know whether you want your information to be anonymous or named. We will respect your requests and treat the information as determined by you. If needed we are also more than happy to pass it onto investigators and or lawyers etc.