In a frank, freewheeling and intense hour-long discussion, the subject of Sexual Misconduct in the Music Industry took center stage at SXSW on March 15. The talk came on the day that panelist Andrea Domanick, west coast editor of Noisy, published a two-years-in-the-making article on the subject culled from interviews with dozens of women in the business.
Moderated by Danger Village founder Beth Martinez, herself a whistle-blower of accused abuser and former publicist Heathcliff Beru, the panel took on a slew of serious topics in an open, illuminating way. “I don’t think #metoo has touched the music industry yet,” said Uproxx editorial director of music Caitlin White. Fellow panelist Peggy Hogan, an artist on Art Not Love records, agreed. “Overall I think the music industry hasn’t found the right man to out yet [for the problem to become more public], and that’s a strange feeling,” she said, clarifying that she doesn’t think the solution to the problem is singling out a specific person, but working on the culture as a whole.
That was a running theme of the conversation — both in how to fix systemic misogyny immersed into a business that has, for decades, dismissed “rock star” behavior (“That’s clearly sexual misconduct,” said Domanick), and in American culture in general. “Where does sexual liberation and expression end,” asked Domanick, “and where does misconduct begin?” Like many questions posed, there was no direct answer.
Also discussed: the difference in reactions to claims against Hollywood titans like Harvey Weinstein versus stalwarts like R. Kelly and Chris Brown. “R. Kelly was not our Weinstein because of systemic racism,” said Hogan. “It’s almost expected for black men to be this way.”
White responded: “We need black women and trans women [in positions of power]. I want there to be more diversity in who tells the story. We have to do more on our end.”
Kesha’s case against Dr. Luke — and the frustration many shared with the way she was treated by the industry — was also discussed. “People love to hate on her music and the type of womanhood she represents,” said Hogan. “That speaks to misogyny.”
The panel also focused on call-out culture, and at what point someone who’s been accused needs to be disengaged from the business — and whether they should be allowed back in, eventually. “Call-out culture was the first step,” Domanick said. “But it’s not the solution. It’s a complicated thing.”
One thing that all seemed to agree on — and which was also discussed during the Q&A portion of the panel — was the need for everyone, regardless of gender, to check themselves — and each other. “It has to do with trust and relationship building,” said Domanick. “It’s on us to call out our friends.”