Major review to be undertaken into culture in Australian music industry

A pioneering review into the culture inside Australian music has been commissioned as the industry faces a reckoning on inappropriate behaviour that has cost several senior figures their jobs.

The national music industry review came about through a working group set up after a series of stories in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age exposed a culture of bullying and harassment inside Australia’s second largest record label Sony Music.

The reckoning began at Sony Music’s Australian headquarters but the stories reach far beyond its walls.Credit:Rhett Wyman

Following inquiries from this masthead and an internal complaint, Sony Music began an internal investigation into the workplace culture at the label’s Sydney headquarters.

The company’s Australian chief executive and chairman Denis Handlin was sacked while three other senior executives, including Handlin’s son Pat, left the business without explanation.

There is no suggestion any allegations against the Handlins or the other executives were made or that their departure was related to the investigation.

In August, the country’s biggest label, Universal Music, also revealed it was conducting a review into its workplace culture following a series of damaging posts on the Instagram account Beneath The Glass Ceiling that detailed allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Universal’s CEO George Ash later acknowledged his own poor behaviour when announcing workplace review to staff.

Deena Lynch, known as Jaguar Jonze, was part of the working group that developed the review.

The industry’s reckoning began when Deena Lynch, who performs as Jaguar Jonze, made public allegations of being sexually assaulted by two producers.

Lynch, who sat on the working group who commissioned the national review, said it was surreal that three years after she first aired her allegations the process of change had finally begun.

“I have been pushing for so long, and today I realised that I was always fighting without realising what the end result was going to be,” she said. “It has led to this moment where we are actually going to see change and have the music industry stop and listen to us and our stories.”

The review will be conducted by cultural change and gender equality leaders Alexandra Shehadie and Sam Turner who have been involved in reviews in the defence force, large corporations like Qantas as well as the NSW government.

The pair will hear stories from survivors of sexual harm, sexual harassment, and systemic discrimination in all facets of the Australian music industry including artists, managers, agents, crew, producers, labels, promoters and venues.

Lynch said the working group, which included seven women from across the spectrum of Australian music, had navigated the intricacies of the extremely fragmented industry to reach a point where the review was possible.

“This incredible group of women have worked tirelessly to ensure the industry is open to conducting this review and is open to pushing for change and creating a safer working environment in Australian music.”

An industry briefing will be held on Monday ahead of the review’s finding being handed down in June.

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