×

I Wrote a Book About #MeToo and the Music Business; Here’s What Happened After (Guest Column)

When I released my book, “Anything For A Hit: An A&R Woman’s Story Of Surviving The Music Industry,” in September 2018, it was a starkly different environment than when I wrote it in 2016. Harvey Weinstein had been outed, Les Moonves was about to be removed from his CBS throne and Matt Lauer was weeks away from his own dismissal. #MeToo had hit the film and TV business, it stood to reason that music was next. But that’s not what happened.

In fact, the industry known for the mantra of turning it up to 11 was all but silent. The response I received for exposing years of systemic gender-based prejudice as an A&R executive was received by the current executives with little more than a whimper. I was supported publicly by two men in the business; Jason Owen of Sandbox Management, whose clients include Kacey Musgraves and Little Big Town and who sponsored my Change The Conversation talk in March 2019, and John Esposito of Warner Music Nashville, home to Blake Shelton and Dan + Shay, who had me speak to his senior staff about sexual harassment. Others have supported me privately. I am grateful to those men!

The women of the former and present music biz flooded me with stories of being sexually harassed, raped, assaulted, and emotional and physical abuse. There were stories of affairs, abortions, and even illegitimate children. Lives changed forever because of a career decision — rarely advanced, more often punished.

In speaking with the men, the common theme is they do not understand CONSENT. Legally, if a woman says yes to sex with a man it’s a legal clearance. But in the #MeToo era, if the man has the power over a woman professionally, there is no consent. That is what all the drama at NBC was about. And it’s what we’re seeing play out in the courtroom as the Weinstein trial progresses.

Sexual harassment is always about POWER, not sex, and shareholders of public companies want nothing to do with this reckless behavior. The common thread is no matter how bad the man is, or how he behaves, he stays. The women are forced out through firings or settlements that include NDAs.

When women in the music business do say something, they are punished. Artists like Lily Allen, and Kesha who have spoken out, their careers seemed to stall. Coincidence? In our latest scandal, the Recording Academy placed Deborah Dugan on leave because she wrote a memo asking for sweeping changes — initiatives suggested by the organization’s own fact-finding Inclusion Task Force report. Dugan was called a “bully” — would that be a liability for the scores of men who became rich employing this exact management style? A double standard.

I wrote a memo in 1990 at Atlantic records asking for equality, and was promptly shamed, and then thrown out the door. Some have suggested that my experience came as the result of having “worked in a different time.” What was different? Time Warner was a publicly traded company. I was a shareholder as well as an employee. There is no difference then or now. The men running the companies protect the men. There are cover ups.

I would like the men controlling this business to protect employees and artists. They need to implement effective executive training for everyone — from receptionist to CEO. And of course, they need to provide equal pay.

No more turning a blind eye to bad behavior. Stop waiting for accusations and firings. Engaging in dialogue rather than denial is the first step. This will alleviate the fear and anxiety that executives are feeling.

The Grammy debacle shows just how ill-prepared and out of touch the business is. We must do better.

More Music

  • Elvis Costello Attractions and Tom Petty

    When Keyboard Worlds Collide: Steve Nieve & Benmont Tench in Conversation

    It’s only natural that the two greatest band keyboard players in the annals of rock would have formed a mutual admiration society. These would be Steve Nieve, of Elvis Costello & the Attractions and later the Imposters, and Benmont Tench, of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers fame. There are other contenders for the aforementioned accolade, [...]

  • Andrew Weatherall at Caught by the

    British DJ-Producer Andrew Weatherall Dies at 56

    British music producer, DJ and record-label founder Andrew Weatherall, who co-produced Primal Scream’s landmark 1991 album “Screamadelica” and helped bring the acid house genre into the mainstream, died Monday in a London hospital from a pulmonary embolism, his management confirmed to the Guardian. He was 56. “He was being treated in hospital but unfortunately the [...]

  • Adele Grammys performance

    Adele Plans to Release Next Album in September

    Adele says her next album is coming in September, according to video footage posted on social media from a wedding that the singer officiated over the weekend. Adele, whose last album, “25,” was released in 2015, officiated a wedding between friend Laura Dockrill and former Maccabees member Hugo White, according to multiple media posts. At one [...]

  • Chaka Khan arrives at the Vanity

    Chaka Khan Joins Fergie in Pantheon of Memorable NBA National Anthem Performances

    It takes a lot to make a performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” before the NBA All-Star Game trend higher on social media than the game itself, but Chaka Khan has managed what Fergie was able to two years ago, with a unique rendering of the National Anthem that threatened to render anything that followed [...]

  • Adam Lambert and Brian MayGlobal Citizen

    Watch Queen and Adam Lambert Reenact Band’s Live Aid Set at Australia Wildfire Benefit

    Queen + Adam Lambert rocked Australian fans with a reenactment of the band’s iconic 1985 Live Aid performance at a benefit aiding those affected by the country’s recent bushfires. The band performed Sunday at a benefit for Fire Fight Australia at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium, raising funds for bushfire relief, and gave concert goers an extra [...]

  • ALTADENA, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Wiz

    Wiz Khalifa Surprises L.A. Middle School Students With Musical Instrument Donation

    Rapper Wiz Khalifa surprised a group of students at Los Angeles’ Eliot Arts Magnet Academy on Feb. 13 with a donation of musical instruments. The Grammy-nominated artist partnered with national music education nonprofit Little Kids Rock for the reveal. Little Kids Rock’s mission is to bring inclusive and culturally relevant music education programs to schools [...]

  • TobyMac, Toby McKeehan. TobyMac performs during

    TobyMac Shares Emotional Tribute to Late Son at L.A. Forum Concert (Watch)

    TobyMac was not about to make anyone wait for him to address the elephant in the room as he started his set Saturday night at L.A.’s Forum. Ten concerts deep into his “Hits Deep” arena tour, the Christian singer-rapper was clearly aware that fans want to hear him speak sooner rather than later about the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content