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Australian music biz launches equality commitment

The Australian music industry has united to launch The Music Industry Collaborative Commitment, a new resource dedicated to tackling the systemic and harmful power imbalances within the sector.

The Commitment provides guidelines that aim to create “a level of security and confidence in entering collaborative situations,” using the broader directive “Don’t be that guy”.

The agreement puts forward a number of commitments regarding discrimination, harassment and abuse related to gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age, ability and minority status.

Mick Walsh, a Sydney-based artist manager, and co-founder of the Music Industry Collaborative Commitment, says: “In a matter of mere days, we’ve received overwhelming support for the Commitment. It’s a shame that we even need something like this, but this is an industry that is committed to change.”

“We’ve made a conscious decision to use the word ‘guy’ in this context. This is largely a men’s issue, and we’d be remiss not to acknowledge that.”

The initiative was developed through consulting with several marginalised and underrepresented groups, including women, disabled people, people of colour, indigenous Australians, LGBTQI people, transgender and gender non-binary people.

“We’re all aware change is needed. We’re all aware change is coming. I just hope this plays a part in that”

Though the guidelines were created with artists in mind, the organisers hope the agreement will be adopted by the wider industry in collaborative environments such as writing or recording sessions, photoshoots, rehearsals.

“This is inclusive and it’s backed by our music industry community,” says Poppy Reid, managing editor at The Brag Media, and co-founder of the commitment. “As a whole, we are now offering both a resource for meetings and gatherings, and a commitment to respect our peers. We’re all aware change is needed. We’re all aware change is coming. I just hope this plays a part in that.”

Australia has had an ongoing problem with sexual harassment which came to the fore in 2017 with two major campaigns.

Industry-backed initiative Your Choice aimed to raise awareness of and combat the “growing cultural issues around behaviour and lack of personal accountability” in Australia’s live music industry.

Central to the campaign was a charter, dubbed House Rules, which organisers hoped would be recognised in the industry as a code of conduct.

Shortly after, more than 350 leading female figures in Australian music signed an open letter calling for “zero tolerance for sexual harassment, violence, objectification and sexist behaviours” in Australia’s music industry.

The letter, which contains multiple anonymous accounts of alleged sexual harassment and assault launched the #meNOmore movement.

It was signed by agents, managers, label staff and artists including Courtney Barnett, the Veronicas, Tina Arena and Missy Higgins.

 


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Australian ministers raise concerns over harassment allegations

Two Australian ministers have written to industry association Aria regarding “recent allegations of [sexual] misconduct, harassment and assault in the media, entertainment and arts industries”.

According to Aria (Australian Recording Industry Association), Mitch Fifield, the minister for communications, and Michaelia Cash (pictured), minister for jobs and innovation, sought assurances the recorded music body is doing everything in its power to create “safe workplace cultures” for its members, in the wake of recent allegations of sexual harassment in the Australian music industry.

More than 350 leading female figures in Australian music, including top artists Courtney Barnett, the Veronicas, Tina Arena and Missy Higgins, in December signed an open letter calling for “zero tolerance for sexual harassment, violence, objectification and sexist behaviours” in Australia’s music industry.

#meNOmore: Aus artists and pros rally against sexual harassment

The letter, which also contains multiple anonymous accounts of alleged sexual harassment and assault, launches the #meNOmore movement, follows the similar #närmusikentystnar (‘when the music stops’) campaign in Sweden and a previous industry backed initiative in Australia, Your Choice, which aims to combat the “growing cultural issues around behaviour and lack of personal accountability” in the live music industry.

In addition to raising the Australian government’s concerns, the letter to Aria also draws attention to the resources available to music businesses from a number of public bodies, including the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission and Australian Public Service Commission.

Aria responded with a letter to its members, obtained by TMN, which is reproduced below:

Dear members,

We are writing to advise you that ARIA has recently been contacted by Senators Cash and Fifield, in their Ministerial capacities, in relation to ‘recent allegations of misconduct, harassment and assault in the media, entertainment and arts industries’. Assurances have been sought that every effort is being made by ARIA members to ensure safe workplace cultures with robust policies and procedures to deal with instances of misconduct and harassment.

ARIA supports diversity in the workplace, and promotes a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all employees.  As members would know, ARIA does not support or condone any form of illegal, abusive, discriminatory or unlawful behaviour in relation to its own employees or those of its members.

ARIA is committed to ensuring that our working environment is safe for everyone, and will work with its stakeholders and the broader music community to promote a music industry that is safe, diverse and non-discriminatory.

Ministers Cash and Fifield have noted that the Commonwealth has a number of institutional resources which are available to ARIA members to draw upon, to ensure that appropriate policies and procedures are in place to deal with these matters, both contemporary and historic. They have advised that resources available include both the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Commissioner (Kate Jenkins) and the offices of the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Australian Public Service Commission (ASPC) and the APSC and its Commissioner (John Lloyd).

It is ARIA’s expectation that the majority of its members will already have well established procedures and policies in place, but we note that the resources outlined above, perhaps in conjunction with external direct advice, may be useful for a review of existing policies and practices, or their development.

Please don’t hesitate to contact ARIA if you would like to discuss any of the issues outlined above. ARIA is happy to assist any members who are looking for more information or assistance on these issues.

Thank you.

 


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Oz promoter axed over sexual misconduct claims

Australian concert promoter Dave Cutbush, a director of independent touring outfit Life is Noise, has been let go by the company after multiple allegations of sexual harassment emerged overnight.

Perth-based Cutbush’s employment was terminated this morning by fellow director Jack Midalia, who runs the Melbourne arm of the business, following a social media post by Sydney-based musician Jason Higson, citing “insidious sexual misconduct and abuse towards women” by an unidentified individual, calling for a boycott of Life is Noise. Screenshots later emerged purporting to show Cutbush asking to hook up with a 16-year-old girl, while another woman – who says she boycotted all Life is Noise shows between 2014 and 2016 – accused the promoter of using “his position of power to his advantage”, including making “inappropriate and sexual comments about me” and behaving “extremely inappropriately to an underage friend of mine”.

Several artists and venues condemned Cutbush’s alleged actions, with US metal act Sleep cancelling an upcoming Australian tour with Life is Noise, saying they “hope to arrange another tour with a new promoter or touring company” in future.

The allegations come just days after more than 350 female artists and industry figures, inspired by the #MeToo and Sweden’s #närmusikentystnar movements, penned an open letter calling for an end to what they call a culture of “sexual harassment, violence, objectification and sexist behaviours” in the Australian music industry.

#meNOmore: Aus artists and pros rally against sexual harassment

Responding to the reports, Midalia says he “deeply apologise[s] for not providing the safe space that the women in our industry deserve” and confirms Cutbush (pictured) “will no longer have any involvement or association with Life is Noise”, including financially, “effective immediately”.

“I want to respectfully acknowledge my wrongs and educate myself to be a more compassionate human and show more respect to women”

Cutbush has since released a statement saying he is “genuinely and deeply sorry” for his behaviour, saying his “inappropriate and sleazy” actions took place in the context of problems with drug abuse and confirming his departure from Life is Noise. He does, however, deny any claims of sexual or physical abuse.

The full statement, supplied to WA Today, is reproduced below:

To everyone this may concern,

I would like to address the accusations levelled in social media and beyond about my conduct. It is true that in the past I have acted poorly and in a manner that is inappropriate and sleazy.

Using my male privilege to gain sexual favours has been disrespectful towards women. I have used my position in the music industry to my advantage. I have propositioned women much younger than me and have behaved creepily in person at music events and online.

I wish to apologise to the many women I have hurt. However, I don’t expect forgiveness. It has taken me too long to realise I have created situations which made women in the music community and beyond feel uncomfortable or unsafe. I’m now committed to examining my actions and learning ways to change.

The #metoo campaign and more recently the #menomore campaign has been weighing heavily on my mind. I thought this day would come when my actions and behaviours would be exposed, and I deserve to be found out.

Specifically, I would like to apologise to the young girl in Sydney I asked out for a drink. This was a few years ago and she was 16 at the time, and this proposition was not appropriate as I was almost 20 years older. I am sorry for that. It was entirely out of line.

Whilst I have acted shamefully and said things I regret, I have at no stage physically or sexually abused anyone. This is something of which I am certain. Any allegations to the contrary are untrue.

I have been removed, effective immediately as a director of Life Is Noise and will have no future involvement in the company. I would like to offer my sincere apologies to my former business partner, whom is in no way responsible for my actions and behaviours.

I humbly acknowledge these mistakes have not just affected the many women I have hurt but everyone around me, my family, friends and colleagues who have stuck up for me over the years. I sincerely apologise to you all.

But most of all I am sorry to the many women I have treated inappropriately, hit on, been sleazy towards or any other negative, disrespectful behaviour. Should anyone wish to speak with me in person, I am here to offer you my apology face to face. There are no excuses for what I have done.

I am also seeking treatment for substance abuse problems which is not an excuse for my behaviour but an explanation of the context surrounding such poor actions.

I want to respectfully acknowledge my wrongs and educate myself to be a more compassionate human and show more respect to women.

I will be taking time to deeply reflect on ways to change and be a better person. None of these words makes this right. But I am genuinely and deeply sorry.

 


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#meNOmore: Aus artists and pros rally against sexual harassment

More than 350 leading female figures in Australian music, including top artists Courtney Barnett, the Veronicas, Tina Arena and Missy Higgins, have signed an open letter calling for “zero tolerance for sexual harassment, violence, objectification and sexist behaviours” in Australia’s music industry.

The letter, which also contains multiple anonymous accounts of alleged sexual harassment and assault, launches the #meNOmore movement, follows the similar #närmusikentystnar (‘when the music stops’) campaign in Sweden and a previous industry backed initiative in Australia, Your Choice, which aims to combat the “growing cultural issues around behaviour and lack of personal accountability” in the live music industry.

Swedish industry hit by new sexual harassment scandal

Some 360 women have signed the #meNOmore letter, including artists, agents, managers and label staff.

The stories shared in the letter, the authors note, range “from the tragic to the horrific to the everyday norm”: one female road crew member describes how a “huge international act’s” tour manager “looked me in the eyes and as he told the room there were only two types of women: bitches and sluts”, while another writes of a “well-known music manager who has a wife and kids [who] would constantly insist that I have sex with him. When I finally stood my ground, he stopped working with me and stopped talking to me.”

“My head has been pushed towards a colleague’s crotch and held there despite me saying no,” says another; another writes simply: “I am unable to reveal the details of my experience due to a confidentiality agreement which I was forced to sign.”

“In recent weeks, as Hollywood carried the torch of Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement and stories started breaking around the world, we found ourselves offering strength to our friends and colleagues who had their own stories to share – both publicly and in whispered circles,” write the #meNOmore letter’s authors. “It’s become clear that the magnitude of #MeToo extends to our own shores and to our own industry.

“It’s become clear that the magnitude of #MeToo extends to … our own industry”

“We are women who work in the Australian music industry. We are artists, musicians, managers, lawyers, booking agents, record label employees, publicists and more.

“We all have our own stories, or know someone who does. We are not whingers or vibe-killers. We are passionate people dedicating our lives to music. In the face of uncountable discrimination, harassment, violence and the general menace of sexist jargon, we have gritted our teeth and gotten on with the job. But today we say, no more.”

The issue of sexual harassment in the international music industry was first brought to light in October, after IQ discovered many women in live music have been subject to inappropriate behaviour from male counterparts, ranging from unwanted comments to physical sexual assault.

Representatives of the ‘big four’ multinational music agencies told IQ last month they are stepping up their efforts to protect clients and employees, as fresh allegations continue to surface across the entertainment world.

 


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