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7/10 women in Indian biz have been harassed – report

Nearly 70% of women working in India’s music industry have experienced some form of sexual harassment, according to a new nationwide survey.

The poll, conducted by Indian-American artist Amanda Sodhi, found some 69% of women working in the Indian music business had been subjected to sexual harassment, including inappropriate comments and touching, with nearly 7% of those having also been sexually assaulted.

“Having faced sexual harassment within the music scene, several times, over the past few years, I felt it was important to collect data regarding the experiences of other women,” Sodhi tells RadioandMusic.com, which has the full survey results. “There haven’t been any numbers on the table about how rampant sexual harassment really is within the Indian music scene.”

The survey, of 105 musicians, lyricists, managers, engineers and other industry professionals, also discovered 72.6% of those women who faced harassment did not report it, either because they thought it wouldn’t make any difference or it would negatively affect their career or personal safety.

Some 97% of women in music think the Indian business needs more initiatives, organisations or committees to handle “#MeToo incidents” – referencing the global movement against sexual harassment, including in the live music industry, that emerged after the Harvey Weinstein scandal in 2017 – and take action, the survey additionally found.

“When I was conducting extensive research to administer this survey, I could barely find 400–500 names of women active in the music scene, nationwide, to send the survey link to,” continues Amanda Sodhi (pictured). “It’s sad that we can’t even offer a safe work environment for such a tiny group. Fear of losing out on work opportunities was one of the top two reasons to not report incidents of sexual harassment.

“I hope female artists who are doing hundreds of shows each year can perhaps pledge to employ X number of women in the year for X number of shows, whether it be as opening acts, musicians or sound engineers – in essence, affirmative action that empowers women to speak up without worrying about losing all employability in an industry that is dominated by men.”

Sodhi adds that she plans to launch a closed Facebook group for Indian women in music to discuss instances of harassment and women’s responses.

 


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Gender: The power of equality

Does the live music industry have a gender problem?

The brutal truth is: yes, it does. But we suspect most people already knew that.

We interviewed a number of women for this article and all of them report an industry wide culture that can be sexist, predatory and unequal. However, things are changing for the better, and there are a number of industry initiatives that set out to tackle inequality. Let’s look at the stats.

While there are a handful of women excelling in the modern live music business, that number pales in comparison to men at the top. In Billboard’s Power 100 list for 2018, there are over five times as many men (33) who work in live music as there are women (six).

In the UK live industry, men in senior leadership roles far outnumber women. The UK Music diversity survey in 2016, which included responses from those working in the live sector, revealed that between the ages of 25 and 34, women account for 54.5% of the overall music industry workforce. However, that number dropped to 41.4% in the 35–44 age range and to 32.7% between 45 and 64.

French music venue federation FEDELIMA will publish a report in May that shows women count for just 10% of music club directors, 12% of artist managers and 3% of technicians.

Achieving equality in the workplace isn’t simply a case of doing the right thing for its own sake – there are business advantages to such an approach

Why are there so few women in charge?

According to those interviewed, there are a number of reasons, including the late nights and demanding nature of a job in live music making it difficult to manage with children; a lack of female role models who inspire and encourage young women to believe they can become a promoter or an agent; and last but not least, a boys’-club mentality that is not inclusive and respectful of women – and which can result in sexual harassment and sexist attitudes.

These issues aren’t unique to the music business, of course. But, as seen in Hollywood, any close-knit industry that is social in nature – especially one with fierce competition to advance careers – can make it easy for bad behaviour to continue without repercussions.

The recent #MeToo movement on social media highlighted multiple reports of a situation where men in senior positions are repeatedly protected – while those lower on the ladder who are brave enough to raise a complaint are silenced.

Achieving equality in the workplace isn’t simply a case of doing the right thing for its own sake – there are business advantages to such an approach. A study in 2015 by McKinsey consultants surveyed more than 350 large public companies in North America, Latin America and the UK. It found that those with the most gender-diverse staff were 15% more likely to produce better returns than other local companies.

“Male promoters are seen as the gods of the company. If you’re bringing in money, no one can touch you”

Firms that were racially and ethnically diverse performed even better, while less diverse companies were less likely to do well.

McKinsey’s UK managing partner, Vivian Hunt, told the FT: “For every 10% improvement in gender diversity, you’d see a 2–4% increase in profits.” Considering half of music ticket buyers are female, it makes business sense to have equality among the people who are booking the bands, and promoting and marketing the shows, to ensure that all tastes are catered for – and that includes making sure the environments they’re working in are safe and respectful.

Gender isn’t the only sticking point, of course, and there’s an equally strong case for having a workforce that represents different backgrounds, ethnicities and abilities in the world at large. However, it’s gender that’s on the agenda at ILMC on Wednesday 7 March, when Coda Agency’s Natasha Bent leads a discussion with senior industry figures on some of the hot-button issues currently dominating headlines.

It’s reigning men
Women across the live music business have told us their experiences for this article. We’ve heard multiple reports from women who feel they have been ignored while male colleagues are listened to and consulted; instances of people assuming they are their firm’s secretary; and women who have been explicitly told to keep quiet in meetings, excluded from staff days out and even accused of “knowing nothing” when suggesting that sexual harassment at festivals is an issue worthy of attention.

Considering half of music ticket buyers are female, it makes business sense to have equality among the people who are booking the bands

Says one female agent working in Europe: “Our office meetings are often quite chaotic, in which the men tend to shout to say something and most women just don’t say anything at all.

“I’m the kind of woman who always voices her opinion but at one point my boss told me he didn’t like how I behave. So I did an experiment where over a month I didn’t say anything in meetings. He called me into his office after the month and told me that he liked my behaviour in meetings much more now.

“So, as a woman, you’re supposed to shut up or not voice your opinion because no one wants to hear it, but it’s totally fine if the men are loud?”

At one UK live music company, a female employee says: “The majority of promoters in my company are male. I’ve seen them display sexist behaviour in the way they talk about women, which is demoralising to hear. They’ve openly mocked female promoters in the industry who are doing well and said it was because they’ve slept their way through the business and not got there on their own merit.

“We also have a senior male staff member who has groped a younger female colleague and is known as a bit of a creep. The culture is very ‘laddy’ and it’s all about protecting the promoters; if anyone did have a bad experience with one of them I don’t think they’d be comfortable going to HR or our CEO because they [male promoters] are seen as the gods of the company. If you’re bringing in money, no one can touch you.”

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 76, or subscribe to the magazine here

Agency powerhouses respond to harassment allegations

Representatives from four major multinational booking agencies have told IQ they are intensifying their efforts to ensure the safety of employees and clients amid ongoing allegations of sexual harassment in the music industry.

Following accusations of rape against powerful Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, IQ revealed last month that many women working in live music have experienced inappropriate behaviour from male counterparts, ranging from unwanted comments to physical sexual assault. In the weeks following, allegations of sexual misconduct have claimed the scalps of several high-profile music industry figures, including country music publicist Kirk Webster, Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile, rapper Kodak Black and, most recently, Fyf Fest founder Sean Carlson, who has been let go by promoter Goldenvoice.

Since publishing that article, IQ has been in touch with representatives of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), United Talent Agency (UTA), WME Entertainment and Paradigm – all of whom stressed their respective organisations’ ongoing commitment to keeping their staff and clients safe and fostering an environment where victims feel confident in reporting incidents of sexual assault.

Immediately after the Harvey Weinstein allegations hit, WME’s Ari Emanuel, CEO of newly formed parent company Endeavor, sent an email to the company’s nearly 6,000 employees denouncing the behaviour and reminding them of the resources available if they or a client are faced with sexual harassment.

WME also reveals it has had several meetings with staff to reaffirm its policies and procedures, while an anonymous hotline for employees with complaints, centred on the company intranet, predates the Weinstein scandal.

“Fear and silence is never the answer – you will be heard”

Paradigm’s chairman and CEO, Sam Gores, similarly addressed employees in an all-agents company-wide meeting shortly after the allegations broke.

An official statement from the company says it “supports and endorses the statement made in your previous article by our UK partner Coda”. (Coda director Rob Challice said last month his agency believes in “the importance of open conversation, ensuring that if somebody does feel they have been a victim of sexual harassment, no matter where or when, that they can report in confidence and with no fear for their position”, adding that the music business “has some way to go in getting its house in order”.)

Also addressing the issue head on is CAA, says a spokesperson, who echoes her counterpart at WME by saying the agency is bulking up its already significant guidelines to ensure best practice when dealing with sexual misconduct.

In a statement provided to IQ, the agency says: “We take seriously the responsibility of serving our clients to the best of our ability and providing our employees an environment in which people are treated with dignity and respect. We continually evaluate our company policies and practices to strive to achieve these goals.”

Finally, a source close to UTA directed IQ to an internal memo sent by the company’s CEO, Jeremy Zimmer, on 11 October, in which Zimmer expressed his disgust at the allegations surrounding Weinstein, who “earned his demise”, and said UTA clients and employees should feel confident reporting sexual abuse.

“We take seriously the responsibility of … providing our employees an environment in which people are treated with dignity and respect”

“Let me be crystal clear about who we are – and what we stand for: UTA respects and protects the boundaries of our colleagues and clients,” the letter reads. “UTA does not tolerate behavior [sic] that crosses those lines. UTA will never be silent or complicit. From leaders to assistants, our behaviors must model the highest ethics and standards. Because our values matter.

“If you feel uncomfortable, threatened or exposed, if a client feels that way, if a colleague does – you are safe to come forward. Go to your leaders and mentors. Go to our human resources team. There are always things we can do better – to learn and grow in our choices and behavior. But fear and silence is never the answer… you will be heard.”

And as the entertainment industries continue to be rocked by an almost daily stream of allegations against actors, directors and musicians, it seems female execs increasingly agree with Zimmer: Many say while once there was a culture of silence, the so-called ‘Weinstein effect’ has emboldened them to speak out against harassment in the workplace.

As one high-profile victim of abuse told IQ said last month: “If this was to happen today, I would speak up louder – and wouldn’t worry about the consequences.”

 


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New season to celebrate “remarkable women” in RAH history

The Royal Albert Hall has announced a new season of concerts, talks, comedy and networking events which hopes to celebrate the role of women in the London venue’s storied history – and help future female industry leaders succeed in an “unequal, male-dominated” music industry.

The 5,272-capacity concert hall – the site of 20 suffragette rallies, 100 years of Women’s Institute (WI) meetings and Janis Joplin’s only UK solo show – will “examine the roles of women in Britain, past, present and future” in Women and the Hall, which runs from January to April 2018.

Among the highlights of the season will be:

Women and the Hall will also include live music programming, with the venue’s regular regular Late Night Jazz, Live Music Brunch and Classical Coffee Mornings slots given over to female performers.

“We want to … engage with the critical issues facing women in Britain today and look to the future, celebrating the artistry and creative energy of up-and-coming female voices in music”

Artists playing the season include Emma-Jean Thackray, Nérija and Vula Viel (Late Night Jazz), Deelee Dubé (Live Music Brunch) and the senior girls’ choir from the National Youth Choir (Classical Coffee Mornings), with more to be announced soon.

“The hall has been at the centre of British cultural life for nearly 150 years, and in that time has played host to an extraordinary number of remarkable women, whose talent, determination and vision has helped to shape the country, and the world, as we know it,” comments Noble.

“On the centenary of the Representation of the People Act [which enfranchised women], we want to mark that legacy, engage with the critical issues facing women in Britain today and look to the future, celebrating the artistry and creative energy of up-and-coming female voices in music, and – through our Industry Insights event – helping them forge a path through an industry that’s unequal, male-dominated, and contains particular and ongoing challenges for women.”

In addition the widely publicised gender imbalance in live music, IQ revealed last month that many women working in the industry have been subject to inappropriate behaviour from male counterparts, with most agreeing on the need to create a culture when women are given equal opportunities to succeed – and aren’t scared to speak out against the perpetrators of abuse.

Tickets for Women and the Hall go on sale at 9am on Friday from www.royalalberthall.com.

 


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Does live music have a Harvey Weinstein problem?

As Hollywood reels from the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and thousands of women globally report sexual harassment or assault under the #MeToo campaign, the music industry may need to get its own house in order.

The first allegation surfaced earlier this week on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, when artist manager Sarah Bowden alleged a “major promoter”, who still works in the industry, had exposed himself to her, expecting her to perform a sex act. She further alleged she had once been sacked after refusing to sleep with a colleague in return for a promotion, and spoke of a “senior figure” regularly promising young women jobs or tours in exchange for sexual favours. This man, too, still works in the industry and is “brazen” about his behaviour, she added.

Yet after asking several female live music industry figures whether music has its own Harvey Weinstein problem, the picture painted suggests Bowden’s allegations are not isolated.

With most speaking on the condition of anonymity, all say they have been subject to, or witnessed, inappropriate behaviour or sexual assault working in the live business. While several emphasise that such incidents are infrequent, they describe instances where male execs have used their status and power to exploit women. Most incidents go unreported for fear of reprisals on the part of the victim.

“I’ve seen it from promoters, venue bosses, agents – it’s everywhere,” says one individual who over ten years working in the industry has had male colleagues expose themselves to her five times. “There are booking agents who are really high up in the industry expecting things from younger [female] promoters and managers,” she explains. “They trade on their reputation… name-dropping, using their power and status.”

Another says she has been forced to leave a job because of inappropriate comments and behaviour from a male boss, and has witnessed a female colleague being assaulted. She says it didn’t go any further because another friend, who works for a rape crisis service, told her it’s not her place to report it: “I can only offer support,” she explains. “If the victim doesn’t want to come forward, you can’t force them to.”

A common theme is being afraid to report any unwanted advances for fear it will hurt women’s careers. A third woman describes being too scared to report an incident that occurred two years ago at a music industry conference: “I thought, ‘If I raise this, I’m going to be blacklisted, I’ll never get another job,'” she says.

“The industry has some way to go in getting its house in order”

“I remember thinking, ‘I don’t know who this guy’s connected to, how it will affect my position in the industry’… There are so many situations where people feel they can’t talk about it because it might put their careers in jeopardy.”

Two other women – one an agent and one working in communications – tell IQ they have also experienced sexual harassment from artists they were working for.

“I had an incident at a festival with a member of a well-known band trying making inappropriate comments and trying to persuade me to go to the tour bus with him,” says Nikki McNeill, founder of music PR agency Global Publicity, which recently celebrated ten years in business. “In a club situation, you’d just say ‘fuck off’, but in a work environment, you’re always thinking, ‘Will I lose my job, will I lose my job, will people believe me…?’

“Generally I try and dissipate the situation as calmly as possible – suggest we find someone else or go to the bar and get a drink, where there will be other people. But afterwards you think, ‘Why should I? I should be able to tell them to clear off.'”

The agent describes how she was subject to inappropriate behaviour from an artist but let it go due to financial considerations – something she now says was a mistake. “He made a couple of very indecent comments and suggestions and I just ignored them,” she explains. “When it’s an artist that brings a lot commission to the company, you’re thinking, ‘Oh well, he or she is a douche but I’m just going to zip it and let it slide.’

“That happened two years, but if it did happen again I feel like I would say something. We’re in a business where it’s not really part of the culture to give people a slap on the wrist. […] But we, as women, need to stop fearing the idea of getting fired because we said ‘no’ to someone.

“If this was to happen today, I would speak up louder and wouldn’t worry about the consequences.”

“I’ve seen it from promoters, venue bosses, agents … it’s everywhere”

Crosstown Concerts co-founder Paul Hutton says that while he’s never seen any inappropriate behaviour first-hand, he’s “disappointed to find out there is a problem” in the live industry and says he believes more women will now come forward. “I don’t want it in our world,” he comments. “Other people need to get their houses in order.”

Like McNeill, Claire Singers – who was for 30 years a leading music publicist and now serves as a gender diversity consultant and an associate consultant for the EDGE foundation for gender equality – waived her right to anonymity to speak to IQ about what she sees as a major industry issue.

She tells of her experiences as a tour publicist in the ’90s and in one example, she says, “I, too, had an artist expose himself to me in his dressing room. The head of the French label was in the room and he just laughed – he thought it was hilarious. It really is very unnerving and frightening; it makes you feel extremely vulnerable.

“The next day we had a band dinner. The German promoter arrived with a prostitute on each arm for this French rocker. It sounds awful, but I’ve honestly never been so relieved to see two prostitutes.”

In a more current incident, Singers adds that she heard last week of a former senior label head “who would quite regularly force himself on female execs”, with one woman being “thrown onto the bed”. “She mentioned it to another senior person at the label,” Singers explains, “and was told not to make a fuss.

“I am pretty sure the music industry has many of the same problems as Hollywood.”

Alluding to Weinstein (pictured), she says “there isn’t this one person” responsible, “but it has always been part of the culture.

“I think it’s great we’re having this conversation. It means people will be a bit braver next time”

“If this discussion causes [these men] to start looking at themselves, it might get them to start thinking about their actions. The next time they think about lunging at a publicist, hopefully it will give them pause for thought.”

While Singers says the debate over sexual harassment in the music business is long overdue, “the onus should be not be on the women to come forward – other men should be calling out their colleagues. Men have a big responsibility to clean up the industry.”

While most of the women spoken to by IQ agree on the need for more gender diversity in live music – one says she felt she could report an incident of harassment as she had a female line manager, while another spoke of her desire for more female mentors – all agreed that doesn’t go far enough, highlighting the need to create a culture when women aren’t scared to speak against the perpetrators of abuse.

“It is partly about gender balance,” says one, “but more than that, we’ve got to be able to open up and talk about it”, while another speaks of the importance of people no longer just “laughing off” sexual harassment or assault and “thinking, ‘Oh well, it happens'”.

Coda director Rob Challice, speaking on behalf of the agency, agrees, saying recent reports “have led us at Coda to stress the importance in open conversation, ensuring that if somebody does feel they have been a victim of sexual harassment, no matter where or when, that they can report in confidence and with no fear for their position”.

“We do not tolerate harassment of any form,” he adds, “and we do acknowledge that the industry has some way to go in getting its house in order.”

“I think it’s great we’re having this conversation,” concludes one of the women. “It means people like me will be a bit braver next time.”

 


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