As accuser after accuser joins the chorus revealing movie mogul Harvey Weinstein's decades of misogyny, women around the world are stepping forward to share their own stories of harassment and abuse. In recent days, a growing number of women are reminding us that the music industry has its own equally pervasive problem.
Recounting a time early in her career when, after Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun fondled her in public, Dorothy Carvello complained to other label executives. Rather than being supported, Carvellio was told she was free to leave the company. "I thought this was the price of admission to fulfill my dream of working in the music business," the 20 year A&R veteran wrote in an op-ed for Variety.
Her essay came with a call to action. "The music business, like the Catholic Church, moves its abusers around from label to label. The only way this will ever change is if the heads of Vivendi, Sony and Warner Music Group all start vetting the men running their companies," wrote Carvello." And not by the entertainment lawyers that own this business but by white-shoe law firms that engage in complete transparency. I call upon Vivendi [CEO Arnaud de Puyfontaine], [Sony CEO] Kaz Hirai and [Warner Music Group owner] Len Blavatnik to do the right thing."
UK-based artist manager Sarah Bowden says that sexual abuse in the music industry is "as bad, if not worse” than in Hollywood. “I’ve been in situations with men more senior to me, who have tried to use that position of power in order to garner some sort of sexual favour with me”, she told the BBC. “The most obvious one I can think of is, I was at a festival and somebody who is a promoter came up to me and took me back to a caravan and basically exposed himself to me”.
Anyone reading this who has ever been backstage at a concert or in the backrooms at almost an music company knows that the stories that these two women recounted are all too common. Some of the same men who write, perform and promote music that often objectifies women have abused their positions of power; and too many of the rest of us have allowed and sometimes enabled a culture of acceptance.
It's time for the abuse and complicity to end, both institutionally and one music man at a time.