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Survey: Harassment in the Music Industry

With #metoo, #menomore and #timesup galvanising public desire for change, one Sydney based researcher is seeking to create a platform for positive change by conducting original research on the scale and nature of workplace abuse in the music industry. 

UTS PhD candidate Jeff Crabtree is looking for participants from the popular music industries of Australia and New Zealand who are willing to confidentially and anonymously tell their stories of workplace harassment. Despite the recent publicity, there has been no independent academic research that examines this problem and Crabtree wants to change that. The aim of this research is to discover the detail and extent of what’s going on and to provide the credible basis for informed decision making and policy making.

Tina Arena is one of nearly 400 music industry professionals with a story of harassment. Most speak on condition of anonymity, so hard data is scarce. Crabtree pitched the idea of researching this issue to Professor Mark Evans, Head of the School of Communication at UTS 18 months ago. The study is now a part of Crabtree’s PhD, supervised by Evans. 

“The music business is wonderful and amazing and yet somehow still functions like the wild west. After 30 years of involvement in the industry, I felt like I just had to do something.”

Jeff Crabtree

The project has been opened up for input from those working in the industry to get their story on the record. “We are careful to protect everyone who participates. We make it impossible for anyone to trace back and identify who said what," Crabtree said.

"What people have experienced is hurtful and distressing, so they need safety to do that, but getting this stuff on the record is what we all need to make real change. Governments have to act on hard scientific data.”

Crabtree makes a point of drawing attention to how much things have changed. “One of the by- products of the digital revolution is the shift in the burden of risk. Young artists carry most of the risk now. Artists now are far more vulnerable in every way, not just financially. The institutional support available to any other workers in this country doesn’t exist in the music industry, so there’s no accountability."

The timing of the research is also serendipitous. “I had no idea this issue was going to hit the front pages when I started this research,” Crabtree remarked. “Sometimes events seem to conspire for the common good.”

Music Industry Harassment Research is open to any Australian or New Zealand citizen, (or permanent resident) who works in the music industry and has received support from music organisations around the country including APRA AMCOS, Support Act, QMusic, Music Australia, Association of Artist Managers and NZ Music Foundation.

To find out more or to participate in this study, click below and access the convenient and confidential online survey. You can also register for a confidential interview that will help build an in-depth picture of the state of the industry.

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