International

Warner Music Dismisses A&R Executive Who Discovered Lorde Over Sexual Harassment Claims

Warner Music Group
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Scott Maclachlan, an exec at its Australasia office, admits to the “harmful impact” of his past behavior, including sexual harassment.

Warner Music has dismissed Scott Maclachlan, the former senior vice president for A&R at the label’s Australasia office — who is best known for discovering singer-songwriter Lorde — over sexual harassment allegations involving a co-worker.

The label terminated Maclachlan after he admitted to years of harmful behavior and said he was in intensive psychotherapy. Maclachlan, who joined WMG in May of 2018, confirmed to Stuff magazine in an article published on Sunday (Jan. 24) that he lost his svp position at Warner Australasia — and that Warner banned him from visiting its Australia offices and shows — after the company commissioned a sexual harassment investigation late that year.

“I do accept the harmful impact of my past behavior and I try every day to repair the damage and prevent it happening again,” Maclachlan told Stuff. (Billboard could not reach Maclachlan for comment on Sunday.)

A Warner Music spokesperson said Sunday that the label had terminated Maclachlan’s employment contract “with immediate effect” as a result of “additional incidents” it learned of since it investigated him in 2018 for what it believed to be an isolated incident.

“Our Code of Conduct is very clear regarding harassment of any kind,” the WMG spokesperson said. “All allegations are treated seriously and action is taken if any employee’s behavior has breached that code.”

The October 2018 incident involved Maclachlan and one female employee who worked for Warner Music at the time, one person familiar with the matter tells Billboard. In text messages to Amy Goldsmith, an employee at Saiko Management, the boutique artist management firm Maclachlan co-founded, he admitted he had been “very drunk and obviously crossed some boundaries,” according to Stuff.

After the Warner employee complained internally, Warner employed an external expert to investigate. The label “went further than they advised with disciplinary actions,” the Warner spokesperson says. The label demoted Maclachlan to an A&R specialist. The label sent him back to the Auckland, New Zealand, office, and told him not to come to Warner’s offices in Australia, in an apparent move to separate him from the woman complainant, according to the person familiar with the matter.

Goldsmith alleged to Stuff that Maclachlan’s inappropriate behavior extended beyond Warner. She said there had been multiple incidents of sexual harassment, including insinuations that “he wanted more” and comments about her body.

Maclachlan told Stuff that he deeply regretted how he treated Goldsmith, confirming he had made comments about employees’ bodies, and had asked them whether they wanted to have sexual contact with him. “Yes. Stupid, insensitive and ignorant comments,” Maclachlan told Stuff.

“There’s not a day goes by that I don’t regret the harm I have caused people around me and most importantly the pain and embarrassment I have caused my wife and children,” he told the magazine. “I have to live with that guilt, knowing that people I worked with have also endured pain and stress because of my actions."

Maclachlan told Stuff he was receiving treatment for alcoholism and was trying “to live a simpler, less egotistical life.”

Warner’s dismissal was a dramatic fall from grace for Maclachlan, who gained notoriety as an A&R executive at Universal Music Group after he discovered a 13-year-old Lorde in 2009. He signed her to a development deal and then guided her to global stardom. (Saiko, which has offices in Auckland and New York, managed Lorde and the operatic pop group Sol3 Mio.)

Warner touted Maclachlan’s hiring in 2018 as a coup, with Niko Nordstöm, the then-president of Warner Music Australasia, calling him a “legend in the music industry.”

Originally from the U.K., Maclachlan spent 20 years in the music industry there before relocating his family to his wife’s native New Zealand in 2008. He spent five years working for Universal Music New Zealand, overseeing A&R and new business activity, before concentrating full-time on Saiko Management beginning in 2013.

The sexual harassment allegations in Australia and New Zealand come as a #MeToo-inspired movement in France has caused ripples in the French music industry in recent months. French authorities are investigating several artists — including Warner/Elektra Records rapper Moha La Squale — for alleged sexual assaults.

An anonymous #MusicTooFrance collective has been working with journalists to expose inappropriate sexual behavior in the industry. Some labels, including Universal Music and Because Music, have cut ties with executives after they allegedly made inappropriate sexual, homophobic or racist comments.

“Over the last few years we’ve significantly stepped up our investment in training around tackling all forms of harassment and discrimination," Warner says in a statement sent to Billboard. "We’ve strengthened our internal policies and procedures to better protect people who come forward, refreshing our Code of Conduct and communicating it clearly and regularly to our organization.”