Sexual harassment and racism ‘rampant’ in the UK music industry | Sexual harassment


Sexual harassment, racism and bullying are rampant in the music industry on a ‘devastating scale’, according to a survey of professional musicians.

It paints a picture of “unsafe workplaces where perpetrators face no repercussions” and where “a number of sexual assault allegations…would constitute a criminal matter.” However, the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) said fear of retaliation prevented victims from filing complaints. Many of those working in the sector are self-employed and self-employed and cannot afford to lose their jobs.

While concerns were raised in a 2018 ISM report, new research shows the problem has worsened: “The prevalence of discrimination and inappropriate behavior in the music industry has increased,” says he.

Assured of anonymity, professional musicians shared their first-hand horrors of discrimination, from sexual harassment to bullying and racism.

One of them remembers: “I was told that as a musician, I would only advance my career if I was ready to grant sexual favours.

Another said: ‘I was sexually assaulted on a show and felt unable to tell anyone as we still had three months of work together. It was one of the hardest times for me. »

Among many others, a performer revealed, “The conductor said he wanted to kiss me and when I refused, he didn’t hire me back.”

The musicians described the discrimination as “endemic throughout the music profession”, lamenting that such incidents “on the basis of gender and ethnicity” create feelings of victimization and damage professional careers.

One said: “Even when inappropriate and unfair behavior was reported, the focus seemed to be on ‘no fuss please’ and ‘who knows about that? “”

Vick Bain, ISM President and co-author of the report, said of the findings: “They are incredibly appalling and depressing because when we released the latest report and called on the industry to take action, we truly believed that “there would be a movement. Nearly 700 brave people took the survey. To see things getting worse was really quite shocking.

“Everyone deserves to be safe at work and it’s an outrage that our brilliant musical workforce is let down in this way.”

In 2018, the first ISM Dignity at Work Report found that 60% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment.

The 2022 report, titled Dignity at work 2: Discrimination in the music sector, and commissioned by ISM, the UK industry body, found that “the prevalence of discrimination and inappropriate behavior in the music sector n ‘only got worse’, with 66% of survey respondents experiencing some form of discrimination.

Its researchers concluded: “The survey results clearly showed that the self-employed and freelancers are unprotected at work as they often have no one to report discrimination to and also fear that filing a complaint will prevents them from being excluded from future work opportunities.. Those who are employed also do not file complaints – and when they do, many are victimized or punished for it.

ISM is calling on the music industry to promote a code of conduct and on the government to amend the Equality Act 2010 “to ensure that everyone working in the music industry is protected”.

Dr Aoife Monks, Director of Arts and Culture at Queen Mary University of London, said: “The vital research ISM has carried out for this report clearly shows that urgent action is needed… Until As the inequitable conditions of a largely precarious independent workforce in the music industry are confronted, challenged and legislated, arts workers will remain vulnerable to the frankly horrific experiences recounted in this report.


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