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One fan told Newsbeat about her experience being attacked by someone in the music industry. On seeing him still working in the sector, she said “There’s absolutely nothing stopping him from doing it again… it’s heartbreaking.”

Musician Janine from Scottish rock band Vukovi also shared her experiences. She was told “Do you even know who I am? I will ruin you” by someone with power in the music industry, and describes stories she’s heard from other women in the industry as “horrific”.

Naomi’s experience

Speaking to BBC Woman’s Hour, Naomi shared her own experience of harassment as a fan. “I actually had an experience as a fan when I was 18. I went on a tour bus of a band I was obsessed with. My boyfriend wasn’t allowed to come on the tour bus with me,” she said.

“They tried to persuade me to take my top off. They had a bag of cocaine there and a bottle of champagne and they were telling me how expensive the bottle of champagne was. And I was a lucky I suppose, I was lucky in that I didn’t really go along with it and I managed to get off the tour bus.”

“It’s only in recent years that I’ve reflected on that and realised actually how close I came to having a really terrible experience.”

Women march - a woman holding a placard "UGH"

Protesters at the Women's March 2018 in London. Photo: Musicians' Union

#MeToo and music

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a trade union issue, and the MU takes up cases for members who wish to pursue them. But the #MeToo movement and cases against high profile people in the entertainment industry have made the topic mainstream – and the drive for change for musicians and fans has never been stronger.

“We are beginning to see a culture change, but we’re talking about wholesale cultural change which isn’t going to happen overnight,” said Naomi. While change in the music industry can be slow, as codes of practice and employment policies trickle down from the big organisations to the small business that make up the sector, she is optimistic.

Together with the ISM, the Musicians’ Union launched a Code of Practice for the music industry to help eradicate bullying, harassment and discrimination in our sector. Organisations are invited to sign up, and the list of organisations who have is publicly available.

Safe Space

No-one should experience or fear sexual harassment, abuse, bullying or discrimination on campus or at work.

That’s why the Musicians’ Union started the Safe Space initiative, including advice and a reporting line for harassment in the music industry. It is open to musicians, the music industry and fans.

Photo ofNaomi Pohl
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Naomi Pohl

Naomi Pohl was elected General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union in March 2022 and is the first woman to take up the role in the Union’s almost 130 year history. She has worked in the arts sector in the UK for nearly 20 years representing creators and performers. Naomi joined the MU in 2009, and has represented and championed the rights of musicians, songwriters and composers working across TV and film, the recorded music industry, in education, orchestras and theatre. Since the Me Too movement started Naomi has been leading the Union’s SafeSpace service and the Union’s campaign to tackle sexual harassment in the music industry. Naomi is currently campaigning for improved streaming royalties for performers as part of the MU’s #FixStreaming campaign, in conjunction with The Ivors Academy.

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