The New York Times‘ Ben Sisario has published a scathing report on the business culture of Billboard, both before and after the exit of chief John Amato. The expose comes just as the trade is feeling increased pressure from online outlets and a well financed effort to challenge its dominate music charts.
Fifteen current or former employees talked to the New York Times about Billboard under condition of anonymity for fear of retribution or to avoid problems at new jobs. In complaints submitted to company investigators, Amato was accused of unwanted sexual advances and salacious comments at company events, according to the Times.
Billboard’s parent company had to settle a past harassment allegation against Amato, according to two people with knowledge of the agreement.
At a recent company town-hall style meeting, an executive from parent company Valence tried to allay employee concerns, saying management was closely studying a survey that showed women have a more difficult time succeeding at the company than men.
Amato had been accused recently of interfering with the integrity of the reporting process, attempting to influence stories regarding his friend, Charlie Walk, and allegations of sexual misconduct against the record company exec. The complaints apparently grew louder after the exit of fellow editor Janice Min, who had joint control of Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter.
“We are well into broad reviews of company policies – including investigative processes, training, human resources and editorial integrity, and are fully committed to this effort,” Valence told the Times in a statement. “In working towards achieving our goal of workplace safety, we have dedicated significant resources and have begun to implement changes.
“To that end, two months ago Billboard’s human resources began reporting directly to Valence,” the statement continued. “It is imperative that leadership heal the issues in Billboard’s culture through clear, consistent and sustained action.”
The Times noted that Billboard’s charts are facing competition from a “flood” of online sources like Spotify, Shazam and YouTube, plus Penske Media’s recent investment in competitor BuzzAngle Music, which supplies chart info for Penske properties Variety and Rolling Stone.