A reckoning is coming for the world music industry and it is about time. After open letters were signed in Sweden and Australia protesting sexual assault in music, a new BBC special report has chronicled the “endemic sexual abuse and assault” across the British music industry.
The program spoke to a number of women who work across music as artists, managers and executives and chronicled their experiences with the “dangerous men” who work in music and regularly abuse their power.
One woman, Yasmin Lajoie, who spent six years working for Sony/ATV in London tells a horrific story of someone working in talent management who molested her in her sleep.
“I didn’t know how long he’d been doing it before I woke up,” she says. “He went back to sleep on the sofa and in the morning he was gone.
It was one of the most horrible experiences of my life – I felt truly violated.”
She adds: “I went to work and I very quietly told people, [but] I was encouraged to keep quiet on the matter, because it would hurt our chances of signing this artist.
“[The accused perpetrator] actually got away with assault.”
Michelle De Vries, a music supervisor spoke to BBC about being manipulated using her work permit when she was just starting out in the business. She was told that her work permit hadn’t come in yet and she would have to stay at an executive’s house until it was sorted out. He started making unwanted advances towards De Vries, including masturbating in front of her.
“I felt ashamed… I felt like a sex slave. That’s the best way to describe it,” she says. She would find out that her permit had actually been approved months before. She had to work alongside him at the same company where he proposed both she and another woman have a threesome with him.
Both women left the company.
“We went to a lawyer and were categorically told that [the exec] had committed a serious crime. But the lawyer said, if you report this, you will never work in the music industry again.”
Chlöe Howl a British singer/songwriter who was nominated for both the BBC Sound Of… longlist and the BRIT Critics Choice Award in 2014, told of a man who was a key part of her early team. He would make unwanted advances, propose they have sex, send her sexual texts and give her drugs while she was a teenager.
“I know girls who’ve been raped, and it’s always a man in power and a girl on the rise who needs as much support as possible, whose career hasn’t started yet – maybe this is her first bit shot,” she says.
An anonymous singer spoke to the program about being “groomed” by her manager who worked for “one of the really big music companies in the UK, starting when she was as young as 15. He forced her to be his girlfriend with the threat of ruining her career and controlled her life.
“He made a list of all the things I was and wasn’t allowed to do. It had things like showing him more affection, talking to my friends and family less, and making sure he was the person I talked to most in my life.”
Watch the full report below.