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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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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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APA execs deny sexual harassment claims

Executives at Los Angeles-based Agency for the Performing Arts (APA) have denied claims made in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee, and claim evidence has been fabricated.

In the complaint, a former APA assistant – named pseudonymously as “Jane Doe” – accuses APA chief executive Jim Gosnell and other executives of nine charges, including sexual harassment and battery, gender violence, retaliation and wrongful termination.

The ex-employee alleges she was “incessantly subjected to sexual advances” and “crude and obscene comments” by Gosnell, Josh Humiston (head of music), Paul Santana (vice-president of talent) and Michael Hammond, chief operating office of APA client Collins Avenue Production.

In a statement made by APA, a spokesperson states that an independent investigation into the allegations, which were previously made internally, found claims to be false. The agency also claims sexually explicit text messages and emails, used as evidence against senior management, are fabricated.

“APA months ago sued the former employee in arbitration for extortion and defamation,” says the spokesperson. “We believe she is now retaliating against APA and its agents through this frivolous public complaint in which she hides her identity.”

“[APA] intends to take all appropriate legal action against her [the claimant] and her counsel”

The assistant was dismissed from APA in August last year, for reasons she terms “trumped up” and “pretextual” with “no basis in fact”.

The spokesperson states the agency intends to “take all appropriate legal action” against the claimant “and her counsel”.

An attorney for the claimant, Michael Popok, says he has confidence in his client’s “veracity”, stating that other witnesses would corroborate with the allegations. The attorney also backed up the validity of the text messages and other evidence.

APA dismissed agent Tyler Grasham in 2017 amid several alleged sexual abuse claims.

APA represents artists including 50 Cent, Kiefer Sutherland, Azealia Banks, Cee Lo Green, Mary J. Blige and Nickelback.

 


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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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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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Swedish govt investigates man-free Statement festival

Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen, DO) has contacted organisers of the new Statement festival as part of an investigation into whether the event violates the Discrimination Act by prohibiting men from attending.

Billed as “the world’s first major music festival for women, non-binary and transgender [people] only”, Statement – set to take place in Gothenburg on 31 August and 1 September 2018 – was conceived by comedienne Emma Knyckare as a “safe space” for female music fans, after several Swedish festivals were hit by reports of sexual assaults. (The most prominent, Bråvalla, was cancelled as a direct result, with promoter FKP Scorpio blaming “some men” who “cannot behave”.)

Knyckare raised SEK 533,120 (US$60,395) on Kickstarter to fund the festival, whose line-up will also be “completely free from cis men” (ie men born men). According to a press release from Sweden’s Kulturrådet (Arts Council), which is providing funding to the festival, “the long-term goal” for Statement is to open up the festival to “cis men”, although year one remains a female, non-binary and transgender only event.

Under the Discrimination Act 2009, it is illegal in Sweden to discriminate against individuals based on their sex/gender, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation or age. The DO, therefore, is investigating whether Statement is “compatible with the prohibition of discrimination related to sex”.

“Shutting out potential visitors based on their gender means that there is reason for us to check they comply with the rules”

“This means,” says the government agency in a statement, “among other things, that we are contacting the organisers of the festival and asking them a number of questions about the information we have received that cis men are not welcome. Then a legal assessment will be made based on the Discrimination Act.”

“It is well known that there are serious problems with sexual assault and abuse at music festivals, and that actions are needed to make sure all visitors feel safe,” says the DO’s Martin Mörk. “But it is important that these measures do not violate the Discrimination Act.

“[Statement’s] completely shutting out potential visitors based on their gender means that there is reason for us, as a regulatory authority, to check whether they comply with the rules.”

Knyckare told the Kulturnyheterna (Cultural News) programme that she has taken legal advice. “You can do it [discriminate based on gender] at a private party, or through a society like men already have, like a gentleman’s club.”

Failing that, she added, “we’ll have to push on anyway and deal with the consequences.”

 


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Festicket teams up with Good Night Out to tackle harassment

Festicket, the world’s largest online community for music festivals, has announced it is teaming up with campaign group Good Night Out in a bid to tackle harassment at music festivals. By working together, the two hope to raise awareness of, and give practical advice on, how to stay safe at music festivals.

The news of the collaboration comes after figures last month revealed one in five UK festivalgoers generally, and almost a third of women more specifically, have experienced unwanted sexual behaviour, harassment or assault at a music festival. After hearing this news, the teams behind Festicket and Good Night Out decided to use their platforms to educate this summer’s revellers on festival safety best practice.

Co-founder and CEO of Festicket, Zack Sabban, says: “We are big festival fans and we always look at ways to help make the festival experience a positive and fun one.

Unfortunately there are a few individuals that can ruin the festival experience and we want to help eliminate that.”

“[The figures] are shocking, but to us it’s not surprising, and we believe it has to change”

As part of the initiative, Festicket have published a series of guidelines  for fans to consider whilst planning their festival experience. The guide includes advice on ensuring you know where your overnight accommodation is and agreeing meeting points with friends and family to ensure you aren’t left alone and feeling vulnerable.

The guide also encourages festivalgoers to become ‘active bystanders’. It says: “Being an active bystander means not standing by or pretending to ignore harmful behaviour when you see it.” The hope is that by being aware of surroundings, bystanders can be ready to check in with neighbours and respond to harassment in an appropriate way, should the occasion arise.

“[The figures] are shocking, but to us it’s not surprising, and we believe it has to change,” explains Bryony Beynon, co-founder and co-director of Good Night Out.

“We are very excited to be working with Festicket to spread our message that planning your festival experience should be simple and hassle-free, and should never involve worrying about sexual harassment or assault.”


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Unwanted sexual behaviour ‘rife’ at UK festivals

Results of a new poll conducted by YouGov for the Press Association suggest some 22% of British festivalgoers have faced some kind of unwanted sexual behaviour at a music festival. This figure rises to almost one in three (30%) for just women, and almost half (43%) for women under 40.

Of those that have experienced sexual assault or harassment at a festival, only two percent go on to report the incident to the police. This severe under-reporting is representative of the issue on a wider level – a crime survey for England and Wales noted last year that 83% of victims do not report their experiences to police.

1,188 festivalgoers were surveyed to find this new information. It is thought that it is the first data of its kind. Tracey Wise, founder of Safe Gigs for Women, says: “We have struggled to find anyone with any definite statistics on this before now.

“It gives us something to show to festival organisers so we can say ‘you need to take this on board’.”

The report is particularly timely after a proposed ‘upskirting’ bill was blocked last week by one Conservative MP vote. Gina Martin, the woman responsible for the bill being put to parliament, was at British Summer Time in 2017 when a man sexually harassed her by taking a picture under her skirt.

“If people don’t intervene, then this behaviour becomes normalised.”

Writing for the BBC in 2017, she explained festival staff and police had been sympathetic to her cause – saying that the incident was harassment – but that there was little they could do because the law made it difficult to prosecute the act.

Though the report has no such data for upskirting, it does note that forceful and unwelcome dancing and sexualised verbal harassment were the most common forms of unwanted sexual behaviour at festivals.

Despite cases like Gina Martin’s and the statistics which suggest reporting of sexual offences is so low, Paul Reed, chief executive of the Association of Independent Festivals says festivalgoers should still report problems. “People shouldn’t feel that they need to tolerate the type of behaviour [at festivals] that they wouldn’t tolerate in the street.

“If people don’t intervene, then this behaviour becomes normalised.”

To try and combat the seemingly ever-present issue of sexual harassment and assault at music festivals, more than 60 members of the Association of Independent Festivals signed an anti-sexual harassment charter last year.

Findings from the survey can be found in the video below:

 


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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.”

 


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‘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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