Skip to main content

48% of musicians have faced sexual harassment at work, research finds

And 85% have never reported it... 

48% of musicians have faced sexual harassment at work, according to new research by The Musicians' Union. 

The statistic emerged during a survey involving 725 members of the organisation, which represents 30,000 artists. Over four in five (85%) of survivors never reported the situation at the time, primarily 'due to the culture of the industry'. 

61% of respondents believe they are more at risk because they work on a freelance basis, leading to The Musicians' Union encouraging the public to back a petition for stronger legislation to protect freelancers from sexual harassment. 

“We are aware of far too many cases of talented musicians, particularly young or emerging artists, leaving the industry altogether due to sexism, sexual harassment or abuse," said Naomi Pohl, Deputy General Secretary at The Musicians’ Union. 

“Many musicians who have gone public with their story are now being taken to court for defamation — evidence of the situation we’re dealing with," she said. “Survivors are often unable to speak out because the consequences for their career or personal life are devastating. In most cases we’re aware of, the survivor ends up leaving the workplace or the industry and there are very few consequences for the perpetrator."

One anonymous case study said: 

“I reported sexual harassment by a high-profile individual to a major employer in the industry. I understand I was one of ten women making reports about the same individual and yet no action was taken as far as I’m aware.

“We are freelance musicians and the incidents occurred when we were performing on tour. I was told this was just “lad culture” by the person investigating my complaint. No wonder such a high proportion of issues go unreported."

Read our feature on the We Have Voice Collective, which is working towards a Code of Conduct to prevent sexual harassment in dance music, and the stories of five women with first hand experience of this. Keep up to date with The Musicians' Union campaign by becoming a supporter, free of charge.