Just shy of 2,000 women working in the Swedish music business, from internationally known artists to managers to CEOs, have signed an open letter alleging widespread sexual abuse and harassment in the Scandinavian country, and calling for major changes across the industry.
The letter, published late last week in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper, was signed by 1,993 women including Robyn, Zara Larsson, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Bebban Stenborg of Shout Out Louds and Johanna and Klara Söderberg of First Aid Kit, among many others. Included are short testimonials that range from accounts of being sexualized by executives to intimidation to assault and rape.
“In the music industry, we work around the clock, often with unsafe and temporary employment. Being courteous and not worrying becomes extra important in order not to be [fired],” the letter reads. “This makes women in the music industry targets for [interactions] that are often of a sexual nature. We live in a life where the law of consent is still far away, where we are objectified and where sexual abuse and harassment are more common than [not].”
The signees demand “zero tolerance against sexual exploitation and violence. Sexual abuse or violence should have consequences [such as termination of employment].”
The letter ends with a list of promises. “Musicians in the music industry – it is your responsibility to ensure that no-one is sexually [harassed in] the workplace. We will support all the stories we have shared with and have learned. We will continue to listen to each other and support each other. We will lay the shame where it belongs — with the perpetrator and those who protect him. We speak with one voice and will not comment on the content of this article. A no is a no — respect it! We know who you are.”
In response to the open letter, the three major labels have all chimed in with words of support, including Sony Music Entertainment Sweden managing director Mark Dennis. “Thank you to those who dared to share their stories during these days,” Dennis wrote on Facebook. “This is an extremely dark side of the music industry which now, thankfully, comes in the light it should be. We will put all the effort to correct these distortions and, at the same time, note with great sadness that we have taken far too easy on what has proved to be a frightening structural problem.”
“We have a responsibility and we must act now!” added Per Sundin, CEO of Universal Music Group Sweden.
Warner Music’s president in the Nordics, Jonas Siljemark, told Music Business Worldwide that “It’s taken true bravery to step forward and speak up about these terrible problems. We must work together to create the changes that will help rid our industry of harassment and discrimination.”