The Swedish music industry is taking a stand against sexual abuse within its ranks. And it’s doing so with a united front as almost 2,000 professionals, from hit-making pop singers to A&Rs, promoters, indie reps and senior execs at the market’s three major label affiliates, signed an open letter calling for the abuse and harassment to stop.
The message, it would appear, is already getting through. A major label executive has been suspended following multiple serious allegations of sexually harassment, MBW reports. Though the offender hasn’t been identified, the Stockholm-based exec is recognised as one of the most powerful figures in the market’s record industry, according to the U.K.-based title.
The development comes after some of the Scandinavian market’s biggest musical exports, from Zara Larsson, Robyn, Nina Persson of The Cardigans and Bebban Stenborg of Shout Out Louds, are among the 1,993 signatories of the letter, published late last week in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
The signees, which can be seen here, call for “zero tolerance” against sexual exploitation and violence, and demand an end of the “culture of silence” in which abusers operate. Advocates of change also demand consequences for sexual abuse or violence. Perpetrators should face the sack, at the very least. “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 continues. “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 letter is accompanied with a range of accounts, from incidents of sexist language to intimidation, assault and rape.
The letter concludes with a string of pledges. “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.”
Sweden, a decades-long juggernaut in pop music, has had to face some grim truths about the conduct of some individuals. Organisers of Bravalla, the country’s biggest music festival, axed the 2018 event after 27 sexual assaults were reporting from its 2017 event. Mumford & Sons headlined the fest in Norrköping in 2016 but vowed never to return following five rapes and, as the band pointed out at the time, a “disgustingly high rate of reported sexual violence.” Comedienne Emma Knyckare recently launched a Kickstarter for a women-only fest, Statement Festival, as a reaction to those assaults and, in recent months, a collection of power-players in the Swedish business, from Spotify execs to master songwriter Max Martin and others, joined forces on The Equalizer Project, created with a mission to promote tolerance and equal opportunities for all creators, regardless of gender.
Closer to home, a cadre of Australian music industry professionals came together in July to stamp out sexual assault and anti-social conduct at concerts and festivals under the banner of the Your Choice campaign.