Association for Electronic Music Releases Code of Conduct Against Sexual Harassment in the Dance Scene

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General atmosphere at XOYO in July 2019 in London.

In an industry where "going to work" often means going to a nightclub or festival, expectations regarding professional behavior in the dance music space can vary greatly from other more traditional job environments.

But a nontraditional workplace cannot be an excuse for sexual misconduct and gender discrimination, and now the Association For Electronic Music (AFEM) has issued an official code of conduct regarding best practices for preventing and addressing these issues within the electronic music space.

The document outlines the myriad types of harassment and gender discrimination and offers information regarding what employers must do to enforce these regulations. "We all share the expectation that AFEM Members, and all professionals," the code notes, "will refrain from engaging in harassing conduct and support AFEM efforts to eliminate this scourge from the workplace."

Like much of the music industry, the electronic industry workforce is made up of many small operators and freelance employees who don't necessarily have  a particular set of guidelines regarding harassment and discrimination. "There’s no real accountability. We’re freelance," DJ Dani Deahl told Billboard in 2018 of being a female artist in the scene. "If we make the wrong person angry, it can become a difficult situation. There’s the fear of being blacklisted, of having that person tell people, 'Don’t work with her.'"

The hope is that AFEM's code of conduct will offer an industry-wide set of expectations that will help gig workers and those who hire them define, limit and address misconduct and in doing so create a safety net around workers who don't fall under the protection of company HR departments or corporate anti-harassment policies.

And as the code of conduct works to protect female artists and all other vulnerable individuals, so too does it include a special clause outlining expectations for artist behavior, a topic that's been particularly relevant in 2020 as sexual misconduct allegations have been waged against producers including Bassnectar, Erick Morillo and Derrick May.

"Artists and their representatives (not limited to managers, agents, tour managers or production managers) are expected to lead by example," the code states. "The workplace, as defined by the Code of Conduct, includes venues, clubs, tour buses, backstage, green rooms, after parties and on stage; in every environment of electronic music, sexual harassment and gender discrimination are unacceptable. There is no grey area where such behavior is deemed acceptable. Artists and their representatives must address any known instances of sexual harassment by their clients or members of their team and take necessary action."

The Code of Conduct is launched with support from more than 200 AFEM members including Amsterdamn Dance Event and SheSaid.So, an organization of women and gender minorities within the music industry.

"Our hope is that this document will dissipate any uncertainties in regards to the type of behavior that should be encouraged or, conversely, penalized," SheSaid.So Founder Andreea Magdalina says in a statement. "For women and other gender minorities these lines are clearly distinct, although we understand the nuanced scenarios in which they take place and the necessary education required to reinforce them."

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