Let’s call #TimesUp on sexism in the music industry

The music industry is being urged to get its house in order and adopt a new Code of Practice designed to call #TimesUp on bullying, sexism and discrimination.

The code has been compiled by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) and the Musicians’ Union (MU) and is an acknowledgement that in some parts of the business the culture is toxic.

A recent ISM survey of 600 musicians found that 60 per cent of respondents had been sexually harassed. The majority of those who reported being harassed were self-employed women.

Due to the freelance nature of their employment, musicians and singers are in a particularly vulnerable position when it comes mistreatment in the workplace. They often don’t know where to turn to if they experience inappropriate behaviour (there’s no HR department when you’re self-employed) and they fear speaking out will impact on their livelihood.

The ISM report found many performers feel particularly at risk when touring and revealed the varied and unusual steps musicians take to protect themselves from unwanted behaviour while on the road.

While the new code isn’t the only Code of Practice available, it’s unique as it has been drafted with freelance workers, performers and students in mind.

Deborah Annetts, ICM Chief Executive, says the music industry was following in the footsteps of the film business on the issue.

We call on all organisations – whether they are a venue, orchestra, school, recording studio or otherwise, to sign up and support this Code and ensure its implementation within the work space,” she says.

Meanwhile the MU says many incidents of sexism and harassment have been reported to the confidential email account it established in the wake of #MeToo.

Naomi Pohl, MU Assistant General Secretary, says: “The many reports we have received have been deeply concerning and range from everyday sexism, which appears rife across the industry, to sexual assault. It is clear to us that the culture of the music and entertainment sectors, as well as drama and music education, need to change radically. To put it bluntly: many workplaces simply aren’t safe for female musicians in particular at the present time.

“We know that many employers, venues and educational establishments are keen to work with us and we believe this new Code of Practice will be widely welcomed.”

CLICK HERE to read the full code of practice.