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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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It’s Your Choice: Aus biz unites against harassment

Promoters, festivals, agencies, venues and managers have thrown their weight behind Your Choice, a new campaign that aims to raise awareness of and combat the “growing cultural issues around behaviour and lack of personal accountability” in Australia’s live music industry.

The issue of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviour at concerts has become a cause célèbre in Australia in recent months, with assaults reported at a number of high-profile shows and festivals (the most recent example being an incident in which US rapper YG encouraged a largely underage audience to expose their breasts at a show in Brisbane).

Central to the Your Choice initiative is a charter, dubbed House Rules, that supporters hope the industry will adopt as a recognised code of conduct. Among its provisions are that “you don’t have the right to touch someone without their permission, respect their personal space”; “no means no”; “if someone’s doing something [dodgy], call them out [and] report it”; and that “it’s important we all feel comfortable; everyone is welcome here”.

It follows the adoption of a similar charter of best practice by more than 60 festivals in the UK.

“It’s incredible to already see the industry really getting behind this fantastic cause”

Those backing Your Choice include Live Nation Australasia, Secret Sounds Touring, Lunatic Entertainment/St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Groovin the Moo, Byron Bay Bluesfest, Unify Gathering, 123 Agency, Select Touring/Oztix, Handshake Management, collection societies APRA AMCOS and artists The Avalanches, Bernard Fanning and The Jezabels.

While Your Choice acknowledges that “these issues are not exclusive to the music industry” – or, indeed, to Australia, as evidenced by recent events in Sweden – the organisation says it falls to “festival promoters, venue owners, artists, promoters and managers, labels, publicists and more […] to work together to raise awareness of this important cultural issue, encourage a more positive conversation with our audiences and come up with preventative strategies to support and enhance those already in place”.

Michael Coppel, chairman of Live Nation Australasia, says his company’s priority is “to ensure that everyone involved has an inclusive, supportive, safe and fun time. Accordingly we are happy to support the Your Choice initiative. Anything that shines light on these issues, encourages open, honest discussion and assists with the development of measures to prevent or minimise harm in the live performance environment is a big step in the right direction for all of us.”

“Anything that shines light on these issues … is a big step in the right direction for all of us”

Laneway co-founder Danny Rogers adds: “Laneway Festival supports and encourages any positive initiatives that open up a conversation that encourages awareness, education and a creation of safe spaces for artists to perform for their fans. Respect for everyone is a mandate of the Laneway team, and we believe that Your Choice is a positive message that reflects our core values.”

To mark the official launch of the campaign, Your Choice is asking supporters to change their Facebook profile pictures to the Your Choice logo (available from your-choice.net.au) next Tuesday (18 July). Anyone interested in joining Coppel, Rogers et al in getting involved the initiative can also do so on the Your Choice website.

Jaddan Comerford, founder and CEO of Unified Music Group, which promotes Victoria festival Unify Gathering, comments: “Unified completely supports the Your Choice campaign; through our collective network we will continue to promote positive behaviour at live music events. It’s incredible to already see the industry really getting behind this fantastic cause.”

 


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