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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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