There have long been rumours that the Australian music industry is in dire need of reform as allegations of sexual assault, abuse, and discrimination appear to be rife within the sector. Now, the music industry may finally be about to get its long-overdue #MeToo moment.
The secretive Instagram account Beneath the Glass Ceiling has been cataloguing and documenting reports of inappropriate behaviour amongst employees at high profile music labels, venues, labels, and amongst promoters, managers, agents, and musicians themselves for over a year now, revealing the extent and severity of the issue.
In addition, Ruby Jones of the popular 7am podcast spoke with us earlier in the year to describe the impact that Australia’s defamation laws have in stopping victims from coming forward and perpetrators from being named. This is something Jones spent months uncovering and documented the whole process on her podcast, Everybody Knows.
It appears that those warnings have finally been heeded with the news that a national Music Industry Review on sexual harm, harassment, and discrimination will be launched covering all sectors of the music industry.
The review will involve listing to stories from music professionals, undertaking focus groups, interviews and information gathering through surveys. It will be headed by cultural change and equality leaders Alexandra Shehadie and Sam Turner who have been involved in similarly large reviews of organisations such as Qantas, the defence force, and the NSW government.
Deena Lynch, otherwise known as Jaguar Jonze, was part of the working group that commissioned the review after she made public allegations of sexual assault by producers.
“I have been pushing for so long, and today I realised that I was always fighting without realising what the end result was going to be,” Lynch said.
“It has led to this moment where we are actually going to see change and have the music industry stop and listen to us and our stories.”
Industry heavyweights have been drawn into controversy in recent years, including Sony Music and Universal. Sony underwent an internal investigation into its workplace culture after reports of discrimination were made public and the company’s chief executive, Denis Handlin left the business without explanation.
This was something that Jones covered in her podcast, reporting that Handlin later acknowledged there were bad actors and poor management at the company but that he himself had not done anything wrong.
In a statement, the working group commissioning the review said: “It is time to hear the voices of our most vulnerable members of our music industry.”
“It is only through this survivor-centric approach can we understand the problems that allow for systemic abuse and sexual harassment to occur in our industry. The journey to appoint independent consultants Alex and Sam has been immense, and is a big step in pushing for real change.”
“This requires an industry-wide commitment – financially and emotionally. It is not about blame but about how we can come together to grow into a safe industry we all deserve to work in.”
The report is due for release in July of next year.