Abuse problem in the music industry

A few weeks ago The Spinoff exposed claims about “how a prominent New Zealand music identity conducted a troubling series of relationships with young women, including girls as young as 12” – ‘I will come forward’.

Today in the Herald Lizzie Marvelly writes ‘The music industry has a problem’

The man who’d just molested me spent the next half hour interrupting our conversation, trying to coax me into sitting on his knee. I left the party.

This was just one of a number of examples of her personal experience that Marvelly detailed.

The music industry has a problem.

A problem I’ve been too scared to talk about. Recent events, however, here and overseas, have shown me that I need to join the voices that have come before me to help to shine a light on the culture of sexual harassment that infects our industry like a cancer.

People in the music industry, mostly many, have substantial power over the future prospects of artists.

New artists, especially female artists, are keen to get somewhere, are usually quite young, and are very vulnerable to abuse of power and straight out abuse.

Claims by Marvelly and others add weight to claims that some many have been abusing this power in abusing women.

Statistically, the industry is still dominated by men.

Men decide whether or not your song gets played on radio. They decide whether they’ll promote your tour. They decide who gets a record deal, who plays a festival, and even who receives a New Zealand On Air grant.

Over the last five rounds of music funding, only eight women have served on the panel tasked with deciding which songs to fund. Compared to 21 men.

And even when women do call the shots, as a woman in the industry it’s hard to speak up.

Especially when the people doing the abusing are your friends. It’s much easier to stay quiet. I know. I’ve kept my mouth shut for years.

But that culture of silence enables abusers to prey on their victims with impunity.

Enough is enough. It’s time for us to say, loud and clear, this has to stop.

The best place to start may be for men and women in the music industry who are not involved in abuse to speak up in support of those who claim abuse and speak up in support of cleaning up the music industry.

And it’s especially important for those who have witnessed abuse to stop remaining silent.

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66 Comments

  1. Pickled Possum

     /  1st May 2016

    Yes Abuse should be spoken about freely with out fear from the ‘Not my Problem’ ‘Nothing to do with me’ ‘I don’t Care’ gang.
    Secrecy is the abuser’s friend Suppression is the abuser’s friend
    The children of today of being given a voice now thru new developments in Cyf and more awareness of procedure within the Law and a lot more people are having the 1million candle spot light shone on them,
    The music industry always ‘appeared’ to be more sleazy than other’s say …. the designing industry … the refridgerator industry

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  1st May 2016

      Sex sells much more in the music industry than in say the designing industry or the refrigerator industry. It’s a difficult genie to keep in its bottle.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  1st May 2016

        The abusers are your friends ? Strange friends.

        Strange party, too, where someone is supposedly abused unnoticed. Could she be cashing in on the abuse in music industry thing ?

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  1st May 2016

          If people don’t speak up, how can anyone else know ?

          Nothing will convince me that a tour will be a success if the person isn’t what the public want to hear, or that records will be, either.

          Reply
          • jamie

             /  1st May 2016

            These two comments may be your most naive to date. And that’s quite a high threshold to meet.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  1st May 2016

              Don’t be absurd. People can’t hear what other people don’t say, unless they are psychic and can read minds.You may have the gift of hearing what others don’t say, most of us don’t.

              And if you think that people will go to concerts of people they don’t want to see or buy their records, you must be very naive. How do you suppose that they are persuaded to do this ? Do you do this ?

              The winners of shows like NZ Idol have a habit of fading into obscurity after possibly one successful song or CD. If it was possible for record companies and tour organisers to make fortunes from these people, they’d be doing it. You must have seen CDs in bins at rock-bottom prices because people don’t want them and won’t buy them.

            • jamie

               /  1st May 2016

              Oh for god’s sake.

              The point being made (and this is so blatantly obvious I can’t believe you’re not trolling) is that if you don’t “juggle balls” you’re a lot less likely to get the opportunity.

              And yes, abusers tend to be known to their abusees. Shock horror.

              “Strange party, too, where someone is supposedly abused unnoticed. ”

              A quick scan of the article would have cleared that one up for you.

              Pathetic effort all around.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  1st May 2016

              No, it wouldn’t. It simply said that the man who’d just molested her wanted her to sit on his knee and kept breaking into the conversation.

              It is unclear whether the friends who were abusers were abusing THEIR friends or someone else.

              Can you tell me how (even if one assumes that this is the way to GET the opportunity (rather unflattering to women) that this will make them be popular enough to keep a career in this field going ? How many of the widely publicised NZ Idol winners have great careers in music ? Any at all ? Opportunity isn’t enough, I’m afraid.

              Can you also tell me how other people are supposed to hear what isn’t said by anyone ? You seem to find it odd that someone would question this.

              Do learn basic skills of actually reading what people say instead of leaping in, trying to make someone look silly and making yourself look absurd and tiresome in the process.

        • Pickled Possum

           /  1st May 2016

          Kitty No! Abusers are NOT my friends Secrecy is there friend ……. oh never mind did you hear that? ….. WHOOOSH!

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  1st May 2016

            Not you, Lizzie M said that the abusers were friends-she must have some odd friends.

            Reply
            • Pickled Possum

               /  1st May 2016

              @Miss Sorry for the jump of the gun about thinking you were meaning ME and you know what …
              But friends have been known to be mean and abuse friends.
              Sometimes wives and husbands who profess to love one another greatly abuse each other and sometimes a very good boss has been jailed for abusing his secretary and sometimes …….

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  1st May 2016

            I presumed Kitty was referring to this from Marvelly, Possum, not you: “Especially when the people doing the abusing are your friends.”

            Reply
            • Yes, and I think Lizzie worded it rather badly. I think she really meant “industry colleagues, associates and acquaintances” as opposed to close friends?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  1st May 2016

              She said ‘friends’, not the other things. That would not have sounded so victim-making, I suppose.

              I think that she may anger young women in the music industry who are making it/have made on merit. as well as the men whom she seems to present as abusers just for being there.

              Now Jamie will make one of the remarks that he fondly imagines to be cutting sarcasm rather than the ill-natured, ill-considered spite that they are, I suppose. Too yawn-making and predictable.

            • jamie

               /  1st May 2016

              No sarcasm from me kitty.

              My reaction to your ridiculous comments is entirely sincere.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  1st May 2016

              No knowledge of punctuation, either.

              If those remarks are sincere, you are even sillier than I thought that you were-if that’s possible.

      • Gezza

         /  1st May 2016

        Sex sells much more in the music industry than in say the designing industry or the refrigerator industry. It’s a difficult genie to keep in its bottle.

        Lorde went for the goth/vampire look & was about as sexy as a corpse. It can be all about the music now, with the internet, twitter, facebook & YouTube for exposure.

        Reply
  2. Corky

     /  1st May 2016

    “People in the music industry, mostly many, have substantial power over the future prospects of artists.”

    If you travel through America you will hear acts that never receive air time; who are never discovered for a variety of reasons. They leave the likes of Beyonce and Lord in the dust.
    In Little Rock we heard a great band, and when a companion asked the lead singer why they hadn’t tried for a record deal she replied” we don’t suck enough, honey”. That jibe didn’t sink in until Odessa. What sad losses to human enjoyment these musicians are, simply because the music industry decides who makes it, and who doesn’t.

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  1st May 2016

      Well, if they hadn’t even TRIED for a record deal…

      If one accepts that that sort of thing opens the door, for argument’s sake, one would then have to assume that it will also sell the person or band’s records & videos and make people come to concerts, Which it won’t. There will always be also-rans. There is only room at the top for so many, alas. It used to be said that a very popular American television show (American Grandstand ?) could make records into hits just by playing them-as if this would make people like and buy them. The presenter disproved this by taking a song and playing it enough times to supposedly make it a hit. It didn’t become one.

      Reply
      • @ Miss Kitty – “… one would then have to assume that it [dum de doo] will also sell the person or band’s records & videos and make people come to concerts,”

        No. This doesn’t follow. I certainly don’t assume this at all.

        Having a record & video is what sells a person or band’s records & videos. Having records & videos is what makes people come to concerts …

        Paradoxically, if ‘that’ is what it takes to get a record & video, it actually will achieve these things …

        I hope that’s perfectly clear now?

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  1st May 2016

          It may, but unless the record and video are liked by the customers, they won’t succeed. Look at the bins of CDs that are almost being given away in shops selling them, CDs made by people you’ve never heard of. .

          It’s hard to believe that many people are so talented at ‘that’ that someone will risk the costs of making records, videos and tours to get it. I’d have thought that if anything, it’d be more likely that once the person’s been given what they wanted, the giver would be dropped. ‘Next, please !’

          Reply
          • jamie

             /  1st May 2016

            kitty, this idea that you are disagreeing with, that someone thinks that talentless people are becoming successful simply by way of “favours”, could you indicate where it has been expressed?

            Because as far as I can see you are reacting to an idea that is entirely of your own construction.

            Who is saying these things and where? It’s not in the article. It’s not in Pete’s post. It’s not in the comments except for yours.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  1st May 2016

              If your reading skills were greater…but they are not.

              The great band who hadn’t even tried for a record deal were blaming their own failure on their supposedly not giving favours.

              My point-for the last time, if you can’t understand this time, too bad-is that favours, even if one believes that these are used in this way, won’t make the public buy the records and go to the concerts if they don’t like the artists. I merely used the untalented person as a hypothetical (you won’t know this long word, but other people will) example of this-they can be given the opportunity, but if someone hasn’t got what the public want, they will fail.

            • jamie

               /  1st May 2016

              Kitty, that is discussing the idea that talented people potentially miss out on certain opportunities for promotion if they are unwilling to “play the game.”

              You- and ONLY you – have turned this completely backwards into talentless people succeeding simply by playing such games.

              You have totally and REALLY obviously misunderstood this and you attack my reading abilities?

              Amazing.

          • Lizzy M

             /  1st May 2016

            kitty, you clearly have no idea how a record contract works, or publicity, or where the financial risk falls in the music business. This hasn’t stopped you contributing, but it has made you look like a fool.

            Reply
            • patupaiarehe

               /  1st May 2016

              That is an interesting pseudonym. IMHO it is very poor form to impersonate someone else, and opine on their behalf. It could even have legal consequences. If that is what you’re doing, ‘Lizzy’…
              Personally, I think it takes a truly brave soul to write a column like that, and put their name to it. It is not a work of fiction, it is an honest account of her experiences, and how they made her feel.
              She would have been fully aware of the consequences of writing what she did. Countless retards, with nothing more than a keyboard & modem, giving an opinion on her. Some of the slurs on Ms Marvelly’s character I have read on social media today, are nothing short of despicable.
              “Why not name names or complain to the police?”, to paraphrase a lot of them.
              I suspect because a sneaky touch on the backside doesn’t seem worth it. Especially several years after the fact. It is still inappropriate, and makes the person on the receiving end uncomfortable.
              “Why did she wait until she was out of the industry to say something?”.
              The answer to that is pretty obvious IMHO…..
              “She is putting a cloud over the head of all men in the industry”.
              Nope. She is ‘firing a shot across the bow’ of all men in the industry, in the hope that other young women won’t have the bad experiences she did. The only guys who will have ‘clouds over their heads’, are the ones that should.
              If that really is you Lizzie, much respect. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

            • Agreed Patupairehe. FWIW 😉

      • Gezza

         /  1st May 2016

        a very popular American television show (American Grandstand ?)
        That would be American Bandstand. It was probably the equivalent of the UK’s Top of The Pops when it started in 1952 – ran till 1989. Getting airtime on the show was generally great for the profile the single & album sales and agents & record companies would make that a priority. At the start they’d generally pick photogenic artists and groups, and the songs were pretty formulaic though most were tuneful classics & have become iconic for the period.

        It was especially big I think around the time when Buddy Holly & Elivis, The Platters, The Supremes, The Ronettes, Chubby Checker, Beach Boys etc were all exploding onto the music scene. It was a great show. Pretty much any group or artists who could crank out a good, simple tune or fashionable style of music right up until 1989 seems to have been on the show at some time or other.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  1st May 2016

          I thought the Ed Sullivan Show played that role?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  1st May 2016

            Yup – it did too, Alan. The US was a great place to be to get your music out to the people via TV in those days. There were probably other state-based variety shows that also hosted these artists as well. Those old shows are still great to watch. The poms like the stones and the beatles are funny the way they handled interviews in the US at that time.

            Reply
          • Gezza

             /  1st May 2016

            I have a feeling Ed Sullivan used to pick artists who were already doing well in the charts but American Bandstand maybe took a punt on new artists more often. Could be wrong.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  1st May 2016

              Ed always reminded me somewhat of Tricky Dicky Nixon and he seemed to have no neck.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st May 2016

              Yes to both! Lol.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  1st May 2016

          Bandstand ! Grandstand didn’t sound quite right. The presenter wanted to make the point that it wasn’t possible to create a hit just by playing it enough times.

          You’re right about the two shows-they were for different audiences, I imagine.

          Reply
      • Lizzy M

         /  1st May 2016

        “we don’t suck enough”. Suck, here, means ‘bad’, not a physical sexual act.
        This is a common saying among musicians, meaning that the top 40, or mainstream music is rubbish and we are better than that.
        You’re way off the mark tonight kitty (with a small K).

        Reply
    • Gezza

       /  1st May 2016

      “If you travel through America you will hear acts that never receive air time; who are never discovered for a variety of reasons. They leave the likes of Beyonce and Lord in the dust.”

      You’re right Corky it’s a matter of not just persistence but luck. Even those artists who do make it to the top and get record deals have often spent years even decades cranking their stuff out at small venues all over the place before they got heard by someone who was so impressed they took them on and negotiated deals with record companies and promoters.

      Nobody in the record business was interested in the Beatles, who had a small but growing band of dedicated fans, until Brian Epstein heard them & realised they’d put in some hard yards & for their tenders years were actually brilliant. Then suddenly every scouse with a guitar who would hold a tune was getting record deals for a while.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  1st May 2016

        For a while being the operative words, I think. But it would be fun doing it. My brother had a band that actually made a record. They were called The Streets and their posters said ‘The Streets-don’t cross them !’

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  1st May 2016

          Getting the band name right can be a winner in itself. It never really shot to fame but one of my faves was the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. There’s tons of memorable & interesting names – Led Zeppelin, Crowded House, INXS, Def Leppard … you’ll all have hundreds of names that stick in the brain.

          Reply
  3. Nelly Smickers

     /  1st May 2016

    I remember reading Joann Rivers fab book a little while back, ‘Diary of a Mad Diva’…….

    Joan said something like, “A lot of stars only do one thing well. Many of them got a whole career by being able to juggle a directors balls” 😮

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  1st May 2016

      That’s easy to say, but it wouldn’t make the public like you, and they are the ones buying the records and tickets to shows. It wouldn’t matter how much of that sort of thing I did, I’d never become a star because I can’t sing well enough to be one and nobody would want to buy any record made by me.

      There are only so many at the top of any such industry-whether it be writing, singing, acting, designing; the public buy what they want to buy.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  1st May 2016

        I would guess that one downtick was from Jamie, who’d do it if I said that the sea was wet and the sun hot, but four others ? Do people think that tuneless wonders like me can be made into singing stars despite having no talent ? What is there to disagree with ?

        It’s ridiculous to think that people can become stars for any reason except that they have great talent and are what the public wants at that time. They may be in the right place at the right time, but they need talent to keep them there.

        Reply
        • Nelly Smickers

           /  1st May 2016

          Have you considered combining your singing with some sort of Juggling act Kitty?

          Reply
        • jamie

           /  1st May 2016

          “Do people think that tuneless wonders like me can be made into singing stars despite having no talent ? What is there to disagree with ?”

          What is there to disagree with? Just the idea that anyone but you has said any such thing.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  1st May 2016

            Get stuffed, jamie. You are too stupid to even know that proper names take a capital, so you must be very stupid about other things. Trolls like you add nothing to any discussion. [Deleted – please don’t allege identities (and you are probably wrong) – PG] Your level of erudition and charm are the same, as is your obsessive trolling of one person who, alas, happens in this case to be me. Go and squash yourself under the troll stone.

            Reply
            • jamie

               /  1st May 2016

              I’m not trolling you, neither am I voting your comments down. If one of us is obsessed it isn’t me.

              I have been trying to point out to you that you have been stubbornly repeating an obvious falsehood all evening.

              I think I have given my view as clearly as I can so I will leave it there.

  4. Pantsdownbrown

     /  1st May 2016

    Has Lizzie Marvelly actually named anybody? Or is it ok now for a whole industry to be shamed and for a large portion of males in that industry to now be under suspicion as being the one’s involved in her particular case?

    That’s not right – and unfair on the men in the industry that are not like that.

    Reply
    • Somewhat unfair Pantsdown, IMHO, although there is a fine line involved. Marvelly is sharing her personal experience of being and feeling abused. If anyone doing so must also name names then we are in big trouble regards uncovering, sharing and ‘healing’ this blight on our society.

      I think there are questions of greater-and-lesser personal and common good here, and more-or-less allusion to identity. Personally I think she’s walked that fine line quite well, quite ethically. I won’t be going in search of who she ‘might’ be refering to. I wonder if anyone else will?

      ‘Tainting’ is fairly common, after all? Evidence gangs on another topic here today.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  1st May 2016

        “I wonder if anyone else will?” I can’t imagine industry insiders won’t. The question is only when and how much of that speculation becomes public.

        Reply
    • Gezza

       /  1st May 2016

      No she’s doing the right thing. What she talks about is pretty rife. There’s a lot pubs n clubs stuff getting started & when music industry wallahs and even male artists get a few beers inside them the inhibitions go out the window. Lizzie’s telling young female artists you don’t have to put up with this shit.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  1st May 2016

        Not really. Actually she is telling them they do have to put up with it until they make it like she has.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  1st May 2016

          “Enough is enough. It’s time for us to say, loud and clear, this has to stop.”

          It’s her last line. I wonder if we’ll end up seeing a few more females getting involved in sisters, doing it for themselves in the future. You can make your own recordings, with all the effects you want & that a studio might add, on your computer in your bedroom these days. And marketing you can also probably do a lot of yourself too.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  1st May 2016

            You’ve only got to trend on Twitter or facebook with two decent songs & the industry can come looking for you. You can probably call the shots more now than ever.

            Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  1st May 2016

            This makes women seem like victims because they are women, which is insulting. It assumes that no girls or women ever offer a favour for another favour-what was known as ‘an A for a lay’ at university. It goes both ways. It’s also not very flattering to imply that successful singers have become so on their backs. How do young men make it into the industry ? There can’t be that many gay producers and record company owners.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  1st May 2016

              Anyone who thinks that they will become a star THAT way would have to be very naive.

              Are there still groupies around ? I bet that there are.

            • Gezza

               /  1st May 2016

              Of course there are. And the more beers you have during set breaks, and the longer you play for, the more good-looking they get.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  1st May 2016

            Yes, but it’s do as I say, not as I did. The subliminal message is that it is too dangerous to your career to do it too soon.

            Why is the industry male dominated? Until that is properly analysed and answered I doubt we know whether it might change. Glib answers won’t cut it.

            One answer might simply be the male propensity to take on risk rather than the female preference for security and safety. Another might be male-female attraction relative to female-female. I wondered what the gender preferences in music might show and this is interesting:

            https://musicmachinery.com/2014/02/10/gender-specific-listening/

            Click on the chart to see all the details.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  1st May 2016

              I’m not interested in the chart. I’m more interested in what I saw when I played in bands and hung around the fringes of the industry when younger. Sounds like it hasn’t changed. Girl singers were often really good, very trusting, and hopelessly naive.

    • Hall

       /  1st May 2016

      She didn’t name the person for legal reasons.

      Reply
    • Blazer

       /  1st May 2016

      same justification..different topic..do you think…she’s making it up…just wants attention…or is a serial liar?

      Reply
  5. Ratty

     /  1st May 2016

    Fucking hell Pantsdown…. You are sounding like Slater

    Reply
    • Pantsdownbrown

       /  1st May 2016

      That’s a bit extreme Ratty – what if Bill Cosby’s accusers all mentioned a ‘top’ male celebrity rather than the fact it was Bill Cosby. Do you think it fair on all other ‘top’ male celebrities to be tainted and looked at differently by people because they might also fit the profile.

      If you are going to speak out name the culprits otherwise you are still condoning such behaviours.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  1st May 2016

        heres something for you to defend pantsdown…allegations about pedophile priests have been made for decades, even categorically naming them …and what was the course of any justice?

        Reply
  6. Traveller

     /  1st May 2016

    Sex and the music industry – the whole casting couch scenario – now there’s something we didn’t know. I have to admire Marvelly’s bravery as there will be many who know exactly who the men she speaks of are.

    She’s going to need friends, and I hope she has some. I’m not talking the usual feminist network ready to jump in the bandwagon – I’m talking music industry friends. I don’t know whether or not she actually still aspires to a career in NZ, her voice doesn’t move me. I see her as belting out a decent National Anthem at the Rugby or giving a tearjerker of a “How Great Thou Art” at a funeral. It’ll be interesting to see whether other women come out in support of her allegations.

    Reply
    • Nelly Smickers

       /  1st May 2016

      Ive heard Wayne say in the past, “that he would”

      Reply

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