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NZ’s top artists speak out about sexual harassment

A slate of New Zealand’s top female artists including Lorde and Bic Runga have co-signed an open letter urging professionals across the music industry to assess their own behaviour.

The letter – penned by musician Anna Coddington and co-signed by the likes of Bic Runga, Lorde, Anika Moa, Tami Neilson, Hollie Smith and Mel Parsons – arrives after a report by Stuff detailed allegations of sexual harassment and exploitation experienced by women and non-binary artists in New Zealand’s music industry.

The investigation prompted an admission of guilty and an apology from former Lorde manager Scott Maclachlan who told Stuff: “I do accept the harmful impact of my past behaviour and I try every day to repair the damage and prevent it happening again.”

Maclachlan confirmed he lost his position as SVP at Warner Australasia and was banned from Warner Music’s Australian offices and gigs, after the company commissioned a sexual harassment investigation in 2018.

“The onus for change can’t sit with those of us who don’t hold that power”

Benee manager Paul McKessar was the second big name in New Zealand’s music industry to step down after he admitted “crossing professional boundaries” with artists he represented.

McKessar, who was last year awarded Manager of the Year at the Aotearoa Music Awards, resigned as a director at CRS Music following his implication in the exposé.

The group’s letter, also signed by Tami Neilson, Mel Parsons and Hollie Smith, says: “Men in the music industry have been operating in a safety-in-numbers scenario since forever. Young women, LGBTQ+ people, and other minorities stepping fresh into the music industry do not have that safety.

“We don’t want to be writing open letters about inappropriate behaviour. We want to be working on our music”

“We need better behaviour from those who hold power now, but ultimately we need more diversity in those positions of power so that the music industry as a whole can thrive and reap the benefits of different perspectives.

“The onus for change can’t sit with those of us who don’t hold that power. Everyone should want a better, safer, more productive industry. Artists are not here to help you make these changes. We don’t want to be writing open letters and talking to the media about the inappropriate behaviour of others. We want to be working on our music.”

The letter makes a number of suggestions such as “learn about boundaries and consent”, “diversify your workplace” and “do not accept the transgression of those boundaries from anyone you work with”.

Read the full letter here.


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