Most people are good. Flawed, but good. Decent. Upstanding. Respectful.
There are bad apples in every bunch. Disparaging teachers in a world of encouraging mentors. Negligent doctors in an army of healers. Corrupt politicians amidst those whose purpose is to serve.
And there are bad actors in the music business amidst the thousands whose pure intention is to collaborate with others to create inspiring art.
I’m fortunate. Of the many of collaborators I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years no one has ever acted sexually inappropriate towards me (with the exception of a pitiable recording artist who gifted me a vibrator/iPod. I guess that would qualify). I've been flirted with, yes. We’re human. But nobody has touched me out of turn or suggested that they’d record my song in exchange for a blow job.
Maybe I’ve been oblivious or maybe they hesitated because they thought the incident would turn up in a blog someday (like the vibrator/iPod!) In any event, I’m in the minority because most female songwriters can’t say the same.
If you follow me, you might be aware of SONA—the grassroots songwriter advocacy group of which I’m a founding member. Up until now, our mission statement has been solely about advocating for the value of songs and songwriters across digital platforms—an issue that concerns songwriters of all genders.
But recent news stories about sexual misconduct throughout the entertainment industry have given rise to introspection and discussion within the ranks of our organization that we simply cannot ignore.
Ergo, from SONA's current newsletter:
Songwriters are not immune. As sole proprietors and small business owners, we are currently unable to unionize. Songwriters have no HR departments, no sexual harassment protocols, no real recourse. We only have each other. So where does a female songwriter (or artist or composer or producer) go when a line has been crossed? While SONA is not a union, as a 501c6, a non-profit trade organization with a growing membership of working songwriters, we are positioned well to help uphold our industry’s current workplace standards and sound the alarm that our profession is in dire need of new ones.
Here are a few facts of which you may not be aware:
• SONA’s membership is 60% female, 40% male
• SONA’s executive committee is 70% female, 30% male
• SONA’S legal advisement is 100% female
The gender breakdown favoring women makes SONA unique among not only songwriter organizations, but among music business trade organizations in general.
With this, SONA has decided to change our mission statement to include:
1) Demanding and upholding safe and fair work environments for women in our industry and beyond.
2) Providing a protocol for songwriters to use should they choose to come forward with their own stories about misconduct (please see * below).
4) Supporting initiatives to foster gender equality in jobs where men have traditionally dominated (like production and engineering).
* With that, if you have questions about a claim or complaint, please contact Katherine Atkinson and mention that you are a SONA songwriter, composer or friend.
Phone: 202-765-2253 firstname.lastname@example.org www.wilkenfeldlaw.com
We are in for a bumpy ride, but we’re hopeful that the outcome will be a more safe and respectful music workplace for everyone.
In closing, and on a lighter note: