Report reveals high levels of harassment in the music industry

Report reveals high levels of harassment in the music industry

The reports of harassment came from all corners of the industry including orchestras and music schools

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A survey has revealed new figures about the level of sexual harassment in the music industry.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), which offers legal and practical support to professional musicians, surveyed 600 people from various sectors within music including orchestras, music schools and session players, with 60% of respondents reporting they’d been sexually harassed.

Of those people who reported experiencing harassment, 82% were female, and 37% said the perpetrator was a fellow musician.

Other perpetrators included colleagues, teachers, bosses, and members of the public.

The report also revealed that the alleged victims of harassment were reluctant to report the behaviour, with 77% saying they didn’t.

The reason for this could be that a high proportion (72%) of respondents were self-employed, and therefore not entitled to the same protections in the workplace as full-time contracted staff.

One anonymous music professional said they were “told that if my complaint was made formally, it would follow me around and threaten my career.”

Other accounts from the people who took the survey included a music student being kissed against their will by a teacher, a famous musician exposing themselves to someone, and one person describing how they were “expected to engage in ‘casting couch’ or flirtatious behaviour so many times I have lost count.”

86% of respondents wanted an industry-wide code introduced to crack down on inappropriate behaviour.

“Our research has revealed a worryingly high level of discriminatory behaviours and practices, including sexual harassment, inappropriate behaviour and discrimination relating to all nine protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010, in our music sector,” said Deborah Annetts, the ISM’s chief executive.

“The music sector has a high level of self-employed workers which makes them particularly vulnerable.”

The music industry has come under fire since the Harvey Weinstein scandal for being slower than other major entertainment industries to combat sexual harassment.

Earlier this year, the BRIT Awards was criticised for having attendees wear white rose pins to show solidarity with the Time’s Up movement – the US-based collective working to combat workplace sexual harassment – but not addressing the topic at all during the ceremony.

Several major label executives have been accused of inappropriate behaviour, including L.A. Reid, former chairman of Epic Records and one-time US X Factor judge, and Charlie Walk, former president of Republic Records.

Both were reported to have ‘parted ways’ with the labels following the allegations.

The Musician's Union has set up an anonymous inbox for people to report incidences of harassment.