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#PunksToo: #MeToo moment for Finnish industry

Finland’s major live music companies have condemned all forms of harassment and discrimination following a series of allegations posted on the Instagram account @punkstoo.

The #MeToo-inspired account, which has amassed more than 25,000 followers over the past week, collects anonymous accounts of alleged hate speech, violence and sexual harassment/assault in Finnish punk and rock circles.

Among those to confirm they have contributed their own experiences to the page are Anni Lötjönen from the band Huora, who has spoken of being subjected to violence in the industry, while the band Pää Kii, whose frontman has been linked to some of the allegations, have had a number of festival appearances cancelled.

In a statement, Fullsteam, the leading promoter, management company and record label, thanks those who shared their experiences and linked to a number of resources for those affected by the issues raised.

“The music industry still has a long road to take to eradicate all kinds of discrimination, harassment and violence. It’s overwhelming, but it’s also extremely important to hear how terrible things have been done in our field and how such activities have been repeatedly and constantly made possible,” says the company.

“Thank you to everyone who shared their experience. We hear, see and believe you,” the statement adds. “The problem is deep-rooted and we are not beyond it. We apologise to everyone who has ever been mistreated at our events or otherwise by us, our staff, our audiences, our partners or our artists, and we support every victim.

“Every person must be safe regardless of the situation and the situation, and that’s what each of us must work for. We will be doing everything we can in collaboration with other music industry players to make this happen.”

The company has also provided a link to a Google Form via which people can give anonymous feedback on Fullsteam’s “activities, artists and events”.

The country’s other major live music player, Live Nation Finland, also released a statement in response to the #PunkToo revelations, along with a similar call for feedback: “We would like to thank everyone who participated in the recent discussion and shared their experiences for your courage and openness. [I]t’s time for all of us to act so that nothing like this will happen again in the future.

“We take all harassment cases extremely seriously and will be doing things even better in the future so that everyone can be themselves and enjoy themselves safely at our events.

“It’s obvious that sexual harassment, violence, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia and any other harassment is not acceptable under any circumstances. It’s not part of our events, nor our work environment.

“We are currently working on the prevention of harassment and creating an action model we will introduce in our upcoming events.”

“As a company, we commit ourselves to developing our own understanding and activities, so that we can be a part of a more tolerant and safe future for everyone,” the company adds. “You can leave us anonymously feedback regarding our events or the artists we represent. We will use the feedback we received to improve our activities and raise awareness: https://bit.ly/Avoinpalaute.”


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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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Ben je oké? Biz backs Dutch anti-harassment initiative

To mark 6–12 October’s ‘national action week’ against unwanted sexual behaviour, Dutch promoters’ association VNPF, along with some of the Netherlands’ leading music venues and festivals, have thrown their support behind Ben je oké?, a new campaign taking aim at sexual harassment at night-time events.

An initiative of sexual and reproductive rights charity Rutgers, Ben je oké? (Dutch for ‘Are you okay?’) is backed by VNPF (Dutch Promoters and Festivals Association), Celebrate Safe and No Thanks!, and seeks to raise awareness of sexual harassment in a country where more than half of women and one in five men have been the victim of inappropriate sexual behaviour, according to Rutgers.

The idea behind the campaign is simple: To encourage concertgoers who witness unwanted sexual behaviour to ask the victim, “Are you okay?”. There are videos on the Ben je oké? website showing how to discuss the incident and deal with the reaction of the other person, and people are encouraged to share their stories and photos on social sites such as Instagram and Snapchat to normalise such conversations. “This way we can make it clear that it is okay to discuss inappropriate sexual behaviour,” says Rutgers director Ton Coenen.

“We believe that the Netherlands is ready for a cultural change”

Although sexual harassment is common throughout society at large, Coenen says it’s especially prevalent at concerts, festivals and nightlife events, “where flirting plays a big role, and boundaries blur”.

“These figures are unfortunately not new,” says Coenen. “We believe that the Netherlands is ready for a cultural change. A culture in which everyone realises that sexual [interaction] is only okay if you both want it.”

Other supporters of the campaign include Eurosonic Noorderslag, Welcome to the Village and venues TivoliVredenburg, Melkweg and Luxor Live, as well as several Dutch municipalities.

“It is important that we work together as venues, clubs [and] festivals […] to make going out safer by reducing unwanted sexual behaviour,” says Sandrijn Dekkers, GM of Amsterdam’s Melkweg.

 


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11 accuse former Lumineers manager of sexual assault

Following the accusations of five women last month, a further six have come forward this week to speak out about the alleged sexual assault and sexual misconduct they endured at the hands of former Lumineers manager David Meinert. The reported events, now coming from a total of 11 different women, date from 2001 to 2015.

The alleged events from each accuser were recounted in detail and supported with secondary sources by Seattle-based news organisation KUOW. The accounts include non-consensual genital touching, forcible and non-consenual kissing, attempted forcing of oral sex and even repeated slapping when one woman rejected his aggressive advances. Meinert, 52, is also said to have threatened two other women upon learning they had told friends about their assaults.

Five of the six most recent accusers have come forward publicly – they include musician Erryn Young, Seattle Times food critic Bethany Jean Clement, Umami Seattle (a catering company) founder Elise Ballard, Urban Artworks board chair Rebecca Jacobs and political operative and adjunct Bellevue College faculty member Maria Leininger. A sixth, named only as Jenna, withheld her second name out of fear of the stigma still attached to sexual assault victims.

The KUOW report told of how he acted “contrite” when questioned, and admitted “to being a jerk to women, to making off-colour sexist remarks, to being ‘handsy’.”

Last month, Meinert was interviewed twice by KUOW in response to the initial five allegations. He denied rape and sexual assault. The KUOW report told of how he acted “contrite” when questioned, and admitted “to being a jerk to women, to making off-colour sexist remarks, to being ‘handsy’.” Despite this, he went on to say he didn’t know why the accusations were being made against him, and that he “didn’t recall” any instances of inappropriate behaviour.

In the aftermath of the initial five accusations last month, and the further six this week, Meinert’s Seattle-based businesses have suffered a sharp downturn. Of his management company Onto Entertainment, three acts have left, including – according to their band representative – the Lumineers. Elsewhere, his restaurant and club empire has crumbled. In the cases of Comet Tavern, Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge, Grim’s and Queer/Bar, he has been barred from entering the premises.

Meinert is just the latest name to come unstuck in the music world in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Since last year, repeated scandals have revealed the extent to which sexual misconduct, assault and harassment permeate the entertainment industries. Post-#MeToo, responses have included improved reporting and support services and campaigns to tackle harassment.

 


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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

‘We’ve been stepping up for years’: Brits’ #MeToo moment

Performers and awards nominees used last night’s Brits, the UK’s leading music awards ceremony, to express solidarity with the global campaign against sexual harassment in the entertainment industries, with both male and female artists donning white roses in support of the Time’s Up movement.

Ellie Goulding, who presented the award for best international female solo artist to Adwoa Aboah, summed up the mood when she said: “It’s so amazing to see so many people tonight wearing the rose. We’re very proud to be women, and actually I think we can all agree that we’ve been stepping up for years.”

The “stepping up” comment was a pointed reference to Grammys chief Neil Portnow, who caused a furore last month when he told women they needed to “step up” if they wanted greater representation in the music industry, leading to calls for his resignation.

Dua Lipa, who took home both the best British female and British breakthrough artist prizes, similarly used her acceptance speak to highlight women’s role in music.

“I want to thank every single female who’s been on this stage before me that has given girls like me – not just girls in the music industry, but girls in society – a place to be inspired, to look up to, and that have allowed us to dream this big,” she said. “Here’s to more women on these stages, more women winning awards and more women taking over the world.”

“Here’s to more women on these stages, more women winning awards and more women taking over the world”

Artists of both sexes, including Ed Sheeran, Paloma Faith, Stormzy, Rito Ora, Sam Smith, Little Mix, Rag’n’Bone Man, Cheryl Cole and Liam Payne, Emma Bunton, Jess Glynne and Kylie Minogue, wore the roses on the red carpet (and Faith was later seen berating a confused Royal Blood for their conspicuously bare lapels, telling them, “You should be carrying these, in camaraderie with women”).

Also notable was the level of success for non-white artists, perhaps reflecting the greater number of “BAME” (black, Asian and minority-ethnic) members of the judging panel following 2016’s #BritsSoWhite debacle.

In a surprise result, black grime star Stormzy beat Ed Sheeran to the best British male and best British album awards (for Gangs Signs & Prayer), with Kosovar Albanian-origin Lipa the only other artist to pick up two gong. American rapper Kendrick Lamar, meanwhile – known for his politically charged lyrics dealing with black empowerment – took home the best international male prize.

A full list of winners is below:

British album of the year
Stormzy – Gang Signs & Prayer

British artist video
Harry Styles – ‘Sign of The Times’

British breakthrough
Dua Lipa

British female solo artist
Dua Lipa

British group
Gorillaz

British male solo artist
Stormzy

British single
Rag’n’Bone Man – ‘Human’

International female solo artist
Lorde

International group
Foo Fighters

International male solo artist
Kendrick Lamar

 


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Lyndsay Harding becomes first female major agency CFO

United Talent Agency (UTA) has hired Lyndsay Harding as its new chief financial officer, in an appointment the company says marks the first time a woman has served as CFO of a major booking agency.

Harding (pictured), who starts in her new role on 19 March, joins UTA from Amblin Partners, where she helped broker the Steven Spielberg-founded film company’s strategic partnership with Alibaba Pictures and the recent sale of a minority stake to Universal.

“Lyndsay is an important addition to UTA’s accomplished senior management team,” UTA COO Andrew Thau tells THR. “A highly regarded and respected executive, Lyndsay brings tremendous experience both within the entertainment business and finance. As we continue to take advantage of the tremendous transformation taking place in an increasingly complex industry, Lyndsay’s role will be pivotal to our further diversification and growth.”

UTA recently donated US$1 million to the Time’s Up movement, which provides legal support to people who have experienced sexual harassment or assault in Hollywood, alongside CAA, WME, ICM Partners and Paradigm Talent Agency.

 


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