Nearly 2,000 women working in the Swedish music industry have alleged that they have experienced sexual assault, harassment or overt sexism during their career – in an open letter calling for drastic change.
The news was broken via Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Friday (November 17).
It has since become a rolling national story in the market, and shaken the Nordic entertainment industry to its core – coming just six weeks after the Harvey Weinstein scandal began to engulf Hollywood.
The Swedish petition is signed by 1,993 women who work as producers, artists, songwriters, DJs, artist managers, A&Rs, booking agents, publishers and more besides.
Their ranks include globally renowned performers such as Robyn, First Aid Kit and Zara Larsson (all pictured).
Others featured amongst the 1,993 signees – who have all given their names – include both junior and senior executives at all three major labels, as well as people working at independent record companies, publishers, live promoters and booking agents.
The most concerning aspect of the open letter: a series of anonymised stories from some of the women containing historical allegations of abuse – not to mention criminal behaviour – by powerful male industry figures.
“These are excerpts from hundreds of testimonies.”
These include allegations of rape and attempted rape, both by musicians and music business executives.
“These stories do not describe a few events distributed over many years,” reads the letter (translated).
“These are excerpts from hundreds of testimonies, all of which took place in what we call the music industry. They depict what is going on every day.”
The letter continues: “In the music industry, we work around the clock, often with unsafe and temporary employment. Being courteous and not worrying becomes extra important… this makes women in the music industry targets for power demonstrations that are often of a sexual nature.
“We live in a life… where we are objectified and where sexual abuse and harassment are more common than [not].
“If we report these events [the result] is words speaking against words… we tie our fists into our pockets and rarely mention [these incidents]. Silence culture prevails. But we will no longer be silent… We demand zero tolerance against sexual exploitation and violence.
“We know who you are.”
“Sexual abuse or violence should have consequences in terms of [employment] termination.”
It ends: “We will support all the stories we have shared with and have learned. We will continue to listen to each other and support each other. We will lay the shame where it belongs – with the perpetrators and those who protect them.
“We speak with one voice and will not comment on the content of this article. A no is a no – respect it!
“We know who you are.”
You can see the names of the 1,993 women who undersigned the letter over on DN through this link.
In a statement handed to MBW, the MD of Sony Music Entertainment Sweden, Mark Dennis, said: “Thank you to those who have dared to share their harrowing experiences of harassment and abuse. This is an extremely dark side of the music industry which has now, thankfully, come to everyone’s attention.
“We promise to make every possible effort to correct the imbalances that are at the root of this problem and, at the same time, we must sadly admit that we have not been nearly quick enough to act upon the glaringly obvious structural problems which are their cause.”
“This is an extremely dark side of the music industry which has now, thankfully, come to everyone’s attention. We promise to make every possible effort to correct the imbalances that are at the root of this problem and, at the same time, we must sadly admit that we have not been nearly quick enough to act upon the glaringly obvious structural problems which are their cause.”
Mark Dennis, Sony Music Entertainment
His words were echoed by the boss of Universal Music in the Nordics, Per Sundin, who wrote on social media yesterday that he “underlines and supports” Dennis’s words. Sundin added: “We have a responsibility and we must act now!”
And Warner Music‘s President in the Nordics, Jonas Siljemark, told MBW: “It’s taken true bravery to step forward and speak up about these terrible problems.
“We must work together to create the changes that will help rid our industry of harassment and discrimination.”Music Business Worldwide