Marilyn Manson, R. Kelly, Ryan Adams: MeToo cases have long shaken the music world. In the summer there were major debates about sexual assault and structural problems in the German music industry for the first time – specifically in German rap. The two major German music associations have now taken a step to address these issues.
From January 1, 2022, the Federal Association of the Music Industry (BVMI) and the Association of Independent Music Entrepreneurs (VUT) will be members of the Themis Trust Center. Employees will be able to turn to the independent and supra-company trust center for legal and psychological advice.
Don’t let the subject slip under the table
“We want to close a gap that was previously open,” says Florian Drücke, BVMI’s CEO, the Tagesspiegel. “Sexual harassment is a social, systemic problem.” The music industry wants to make a contribution to combating this. Birte Wiemann, CEO of VUT, has a similar view.
“I would very much like that sexual harassment and sexual violence are not an issue in the music industry,” said Wiemann. “But that’s it, like in the rest of society.” The aim of working with Themis is to make a statement. “We cannot work on the one hand in mentoring programs on empowering women, and let this other side slip under the table.”
Deutschrap-MeToo was a catalyst
In June, the model Nika Irani accused the rapper Samr of rape, sparking a debate about sexual violence and images of masculinity in the German rap scene. Numerous young women have reported anonymously on the Instagram account Deutschrap-MeToo to describe their experiences with rappers, from insulting slogans to rape. “With MeToo in Deutschrap it became clear once again that our industry is not immune to this problem either,” said Wiemann. Both she and pressures emphasize that the debate wasn’t the only factor.
Themis was founded in 2018 by industry institutions in the theater, film and television industry in response to the MeToo movement, with financial support from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. Themis was recently in the headlines because the advice center played an important role in the MeToo allegations against Volksbühnen director Klaus Dörr.
Right from the start there were discussions about whether the music industry should become part of Themis. This summer there were again discussions, through the mediation of the MaLisa Foundation of Maria and Elisabeth Furtwängler. At the end of November, the music associations submitted their application for membership. Starting in February, another part-time employee with experience in the music industry will work for Themis as a consultant, financed by the associations.
Consultants work at the limit
Florian Drücke often sees communication with the various subsectors of the industry – from the live sector and labels to publishers and sales – as difficult. “We can’t allow any blind spots,” he says. “Because then a lot of suffering can happen.” Working with Themis also means more transparency – which might not necessarily be beneficial for the image of the music industry. Press is aware of this. It is about the questions where the problems lie, how the sub-sectors differ, how many cases there are at all. “We face the problem,” says Drücke.
So far, those affected in the music industry could only go to the company’s own contact points – if they existed at all. At Themis, advice is possible anonymously, which means a lower inhibition threshold. “Freelance workers in particular often do not dare to complain for fear of losing their job,” says Eva Hubert, board member of Themis. By the end of September alone there had been 184 new cases and 423 consultations.
The counselors would work to the limit, so Hubert – also because of the emotional strain. “This year alone, eleven cases of rape have been reported.” 85 percent of those affected are women. 60 percent are verbal or digital harassment, and almost 40 percent are physical attacks. There are rarely any letters of complaint. “The fear is too great that there will be professional disadvantages.”
Equal opportunities are also related to it
Related to this is a lack of equal opportunities, a major problem in the music industry. Until recently, for example, there was no woman on the board of the BVMI. According to the Keychange study, which was presented at the Reeperbahn Festival in September, only 15 percent of women in the German music business rate the chances of men and women as equal.
“Of course there are also many men who want to change something,” says Eva Hubert. “But because almost all women have experienced harassment themselves in the course of their lives, they have a different awareness, a different sensitivity.” That is why it is important that women also get involved at management level.
Florian Drücke is also aware of this and emphasizes that the industry will change. With Themis, another instrument has now been added to check whether these promises are being kept.
Source From: Tagesspiegel
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