‘I’m constantly on guard’: From Rina Sawayama to Nova Twins and Self Esteem, women share damning tales of misogyny in the music industry

From Rina Sawayama (centre) to Self Esteem (bottom left) and Nova Twins (top right), women are sharing their accounts of misogyny in the UK music industry (Getty / Press)
From Rina Sawayama (centre) to Self Esteem (bottom left) and Nova Twins (top right), women are sharing their accounts of misogyny in the UK music industry (Getty / Press)

In January this year, a damning report exposed the misogyny and abuse still rife in the UK music industry.

Despite increases in representation both in the charts and at awards ceremonies, it was found that female artists are still routinely undervalued and undermined, receiving fewer opportunities than their male peers.

The report also exposed the culture of silence that prevents survivors of sexual harassment, assault and abuse from speaking out, either out of fear of repercussions for their career or that they will be met with disbelief.

After The Independent reported on the findings, musician Chloe Little of the indie rock band Wings of Desire began reaching out to her friends and peers, to ask about their personal experiences of misogyny in the music industry.

She soon found herself inundated with responses from artists, managers, photographers, agents and major label employees, who shared their devastating accounts of sexism, racism, abuse, sexual assault and coercion.

Prominent British talents, such as critically adored artists Rina Sawayama, Nova Twins and Self Esteem, along with rising stars such as Lily Fontaine of the rock band English Teacher and Heather Baron-Gracie of Pale Waves, detailed their encounters with men who have gaslit them, assaulted them, patronised them, or punished them for attempting to call out the misconduct of other men.

The music industry has yet to face its MeToo moment. The Independent is sharing these stories – some on record, some anonymous, all brave – in the hope that it encourages more women to speak out, and that the British music industry will wake up and start holding those who abuse their power and influence to account.

Chloe Little – artist, Wings of Desire

Chloe Little, singer in rock band Wings of Desire (Press)
Chloe Little, singer in rock band Wings of Desire (Press)

When the WEC’s report into misogyny in music was released, the findings were not surprising. I was disturbed that the culture has been deemed ‘endemic’, and yet I doubt you’d find any woman working in the music industry who hasn’t experienced some form of misogyny. From personal experience I know it’s an industry rife with discrimination, yet any conversations around what many women have endured always seem to be quashed.

The music business is a notoriously difficult industry to get into, and women face an entirely unique set of challenges. Women are discouraged and bullied out of what has been described as a ‘boys club’. As a teenager I tried desperately to form a band with boys at school, but none of them wanted to play music with a girl. Surprisingly it didn’t deter me and I continued with incredible naivety that things would change. Later on, I spent years being sent to writing sessions with “up and coming” producers in their forties, who often had studios in remotely located flats or even bedrooms. There was no safeguarding, you are gaslit into thinking this is how you prove you are worthy enough for a label to invest in.

There was no safeguarding

On one occasion, aged 19, I sent an award-winning producer some of my demos and he said that he’d love to work on them. This guy, a man in his fifties, called and said he had a song for me – but if I wanted it, I needed to visit his Mayfair hotel room that night to collect it. I was too scared to confront him, I just made a polite excuse as to why I couldn’t go and then I never heard from him again. The shame I felt for luxuriating in the fantasy that I was good enough stuck with me. It took years, but I finally found a support system and I now have a healthy creative partnership without compromise.

The visibility of female artists may be at an all time high, but this does not mean that women are not subjected to gross misogyny at every turn. We are expected to feel fortunate when we are thrown a few scraps. The power dynamic between female artists and the industry is often degrading, while male artists (specifically those that bring in huge profits for their major labels) seem to be protected and encouraged. Especially, when it comes to allegations of abuse of power towards their young female audiences. Change is desperately needed.

I wanted to speak to as many women in the UK industry as I could, and try to paint the most accurate picture of what it’s like for female artists, managers, agents, marketing executives, tour managers and more. The response has been overwhelming, I could not believe so many women were ready to talk to me about their experiences.

Rina Sawayama – solo artist

Rina Sawayama (Charlotte Rutherford)
Rina Sawayama (Charlotte Rutherford)

Since summer last year, I’ve felt intense racist misogyny in a way that I’ve never felt before. In public and private I feel as though I’ve been repeatedly gaslit, disrespected, ignored, even cyber-bullied for calling out blatant racist and sexist behaviour. It’s horrifying seeing how the forts around men get built overnight and the techniques used to try to discredit and confuse the narrative. It’s been wild to see men and women around me turn.

I just want to leave this world a fairer, safer and kinder place for future generations to live in. That’s always been my mission from the start and I’ve always used my voice for this, but time and time again, women are punished for inconveniently holding a mirror up to men who were not willing to be held publicly accountable. My peers and I share stories and it’s clear there are a lot of men working in this industry who continue to get away with awful behaviour.

People feel like they can’t speak up. I don’t blame them – we’ve all seen what happens to women who do. But something needs to change.

The industry has improved since the days of Britney Spears and the UK tabloids of the Nineties and Noughties. That’s because of two reasons: powerful people have taken legal action and changed the landscape, and because the public has changed. The public has a much more sympathetic view on artists’ mental health and personal space. However, within the industry, behind closed doors, I’ve noticed how men are now weaponising the language of women’s mental health to masquerade misogyny. It’s unacceptable to say a woman is “crazy”, but I’ve heard phrases like, “I’ve heard she’s going through a really tough time, and she’s not acting like herself”. Often those very men are the ones causing the women distress.

I’ve been repeatedly gaslit, disrespected, ignored, even cyber-bullied for calling out blatant racist and sexist behaviour

Rina Sawayama

Language like this allows misogyny to hide behind seemingly caring words. The problem is not that we are unwell, the problem is that the industry is unwell. I think we need to ask why that woman is unwell, and actively try and change the source of that distress. Often people don’t realise, or see what they are doing as misogyny.

Because it usually comes from us having to pretend that everything is ok and that the industry we work in is a fair one. What you might perceive as “acting out” is very likely caused by the fact that, for years, we have been forced to internalise the effects of this distress, instead of speaking out about it. But people are scared to lose their jobs on all levels of the industry, so most choose not to question it or even try to change it. Pretend it isn’t there. But if enough people have their eyes open, and enough people are willing to take the risk and use their voice, then the industry will change.

One thing that I want to see changed is this constant competition for relevance and being at the top. Being motivated by those things destroys one of the best bits about being an artist: the community. When you see other women as competition (and of course I’ve been guilty of thinking like that at times too) instead of a source of strength and support, then it fragments collective power and knowledge. Recently I’ve started reaching out to other artists more, and had younger artists reach out to me, and I’ve been loving the support I’ve received and am able to give back. I urge any artist to dedicate a portion of their time to help building that community. Ultimately, it protects us from the wild west of the music industry.

I don’t know a single woman in the music industry who has not experienced either misogyny or racism or both. Let’s take a second to digest that. I don’t know a single woman who has not experienced any or some of the following: sexual harassment, sexual assault, abuse of power, grooming, casual or systemic racism, causal or systemic sexism, gaslighting, being taken advantage of, inappropriate touch, unwanted sexual advances. This is just scratching the surface. Remember: this is our workplace. It’s absolutely unacceptable and needs to change for good - and I am determined to use my voice to make this happen.

Rebecca Lucy Taylor – artist, Self Esteem

Rebecca Lucy Taylor, aka Self Esteem (BBC/Sarah Louise Bennett)
Rebecca Lucy Taylor, aka Self Esteem (BBC/Sarah Louise Bennett)

I desperately wanted to get Slow Club signed to an American label. After we played, the usual extreme drinking ensued. By the end of the evening the boss of the label grabbed me between my legs and asked if I would show him a “good time in London”.

It took many years to realise I did not “lose” an opportunity because I didn’t oblige. I cannot stress enough how much that this is one of many, many incidents in my 15 years in the music industry. The majority of this time has involved a vast power imbalance, and consequently the sustained threat of my career being in jeopardy, along with a near constant underscoring throughout my career that my worth is based solely on my appearance.

Lily Fontaine – lead singer, English Teacher

When I was at university, aged 20, I did a freelance shift as a member of a local crew for a load-in at Leeds First Direct Arena. I was exploring different areas of the music industry to see what I’d like to do after university, and the flexibility of the role really appealed to me. I was excited. I was assigned the role of helping to construct the video wall, as part of a team of maybe five or six people, led by a member of the artist’s touring crew – a white man in his mid to late-fifties.

English Teacher’s Lily Fontaine (Press image)
English Teacher’s Lily Fontaine (Press image)

The comments began immediately, from more distanced flirtatious comments like, “Is your mum single?” to more serious and direct sexual objectification, and with no let-up. The point where I decided I was never going to work there again was after the performance, when I was loading back into the lorries. The man decided to make a sexual comment in front of the rest of the male touring staff, all of whom watched and laughed at me while I continued to push flight cases around, holding back tears. I was told this was normal for women in the crew industry and the best thing to do was keep my mouth shut. That’s what I did, but every time I see a woman on load-in as a performing artist, I regret that decision, so it means a lot to talk about it now.

My ideas have been dismissed and then resold as someone else’s, and my concerns gaslit into thin air

Lily Fontaine, English Teacher

In recent years, as a Black female musician, I’ve been patronised consistently despite over a decade’s worth of cross-industry experience. My ideas have been dismissed and then resold as someone else’s, and my concerns gaslit into thin air. Often these things happen publicly and no one says anything about it. That’s when you just want to throw your hands in the air and scream: “Am I crazy or is this industry a mess?” Of course, we all know the truth. I’ve heard more and worse stories from friends. This industry – like most industries operating under capitalism – financially and emotionally devalues its hardest working members and I believe that women, and especially working-class women and women of colour, feel that weight more than anyone.

Heather Baron Gracie – lead singer, Pale Waves

I find that I’m constantly grappling with the insidious presence of misogyny that taints the music industry; I’ve experienced a relentless onslaught of discrimination that makes it impossible to ignore. Men in positions of power seem to believe they have unrestricted authority to exert control over me, subjecting me to harassment and belittlement as if it’s their inherent right. Their abuse of invisible power dynamics is not only infuriating but deeply unsettling, creating an environment where I’m constantly on guard, feeling like I have to go above and beyond to prove myself.

Even within the studio, where creativity should flourish, I’ve found myself locked in a perpetual battle for respect and recognition. Despite being the driving force, I’ve been forced to fight for my ideas to be heard and considered by producers and collaborators. It’s been enraging to have seen my vision diluted or dismissed in favour of male perspectives, as if my voice is somehow less valid simply because of my gender. Every note, every lyric, every aspect of my art stems from my mind and my experiences, yet I’ve been forced to defend my right to creative autonomy at every turn.

I find myself locked in a perpetual battle for respect and recognition

Heather Baron-Gracie, Pale Waves

Misogyny isn’t just a minor inconvenience in the music industry; it’s a pervasive and deeply ingrained systemic issue that threatens to overshadow the talent and creativity of countless female artists. I’ll continue to speak out against the sexism and discrimination that seek to diminish my voice and undermine my artistry. It’s time for the industry to reckon with its deep-seated misogyny and create a more equitable and inclusive space for all musicians, regardless of gender.

Rakel Mjoll – lead singer, Dream Wife

Rakel Mjoll, Dream Wife (Supplied)
Rakel Mjoll, Dream Wife (Supplied)

When Chloe asked me to write about misogyny in the music industry, my mind went blank. Not because of any lack of lived experiences, but because of the overwhelming task of pinpointing it in separate threads. My experiences of misogyny are a tapestry of destructive socially accepted norms and behavioural patterns that I’ve encountered since my teenage years entering into the music industry. So I’ll start with the feeling of always feeling lesser to my male counterparts, despite my many accolades, achievements and education.

From my guitar teacher telling me, aged 12, that I should study violin because “girls don’t play electric guitar”, to my first teenage bands with men where comments about my appearance on stage were regularly discussed in band meetings, to being told by a male booker that we filled the one female/queer slot of his festival. So many times, I have been told – even by romantic partners working in music – that my youthful appearance and the fact that my music was “riding the feminist wave” (as if equality was a fad), were the reasons why a spotlight was briefly shining on me. Not the endurance, the hundreds of DIY shows or relentless work of my band and everyone we work with to get us an inch closer to our goal. That goal being a sustainable career.

Amy Love – singer/guitarist, Nova Twins

Before Nova Twins, I went to meet a male producer alone – something I would not do now. When I arrived, he was watching a previous music video I’d made. He was commenting on how “sexy” I looked in it. “Why don’t you want to look sexy again?” he asked. He told me I was too thin now and kept telling me I needed to eat a biscuit. I declined; I wasn’t hungry. But he persisted and it was easier to eat something in front of him than not.

He was too close to me... it was intimidating

Amy Love, Nova Twins

After being grilled on my weight and being forced to eat, I had to go into the vocal booth feeling very uncomfortable, self-conscious and not in a good place to perform. At one point between takes, he came into the small booth to say something: he was too close to me and it felt intimidating. The energy felt wrong with him in my space.

On the train home, I pulled my jumper over my legs to cover them. I felt that the strangers around me were judging my body, as he did in the studio. I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable in my own skin, all because some producer thought it was OK to body-shame me.

Nova Twins (Federica Burelli)
Nova Twins (Federica Burelli)

Georgia South – bassist, Nova Twins

When I was 16, I had to help pack down a studio after a session. I was alone with a much, much older man, who told me I should put the mic head on like it was a condom. I remember feeling very uncomfortable and frozen, thinking how there was no one here but this man and me. Luckily a friend of mine came back shortly after, so I was able to leave quickly.

Izzy Bee Phillips – lead singer/guitarist, Black Honey

Izzy Bee Phillips, Black Honey (Hattie Neale)
Izzy Bee Phillips, Black Honey (Hattie Neale)

It starts with everyone questioning your ability to have platonic relations with your male band members, and really it’s kind of unending from there. On a casual level I have had tea served to me by young girls in a manager’s office meeting, run by all men, where the dialog was not dissimilar to that of a stag do. As they proceed to list me the reasons my first album “failed”. I had one of the best managers in the industry (who is female) tell me “to not get mixed up in all that feminism nonsense”, before also telling me her story of how she got made to sit on a radio pluggers lap when she started.

My personal experience with sexual assault is not something I am ready to talk about publicly, but I will say that it has scared me permanently and affects every working and romantic relationship with men. I was assaulted by both the music industry and by men working at the music university I went to. I have been bounced by security at my own shows because they don’t believe I am a frontperson. I have been watched getting changed in a dressing room by a promoter who was wolf-whistling at me while I was changing. I have been told by a male label head that I was too emotionally unstable to sign.

Most importantly, we know these experiences to be even harder for our intersectional minorities and women of colour. The endemic misogyny is very real.

Daisy Carberry – marketing manager, EMI / Activist Artists Management

Daisy Carberry, manager (Supplied)
Daisy Carberry, manager (Supplied)

I juggle a job at a major label with my work setting up a non-profit organisation aimed at getting gender minorities into music. I was once headhunted by a male director at a company I’d dreamed of working at. We met for a couple of informal interviews over coffee and I told him of my non-profit work. This was met with gushing enthusiasm and the promise of introductions to a host of incredible women he knew.

The director then offered me the position, requesting that I come and meet him and the team at an artist’s gig before I gave my final answer. I arrived already sensing red flags, feeling uncomfortable at the idea of a dark, sweaty, alcohol-fuelled environment accompanied by a man who was, ultimately, a stranger.

My suspicions proved correct – he spent the night with his arm draped round my shoulders, his face pressed against my ear as he proceeded to tell me why I should take the job. Unsurprisingly, I left and declined the position, and the man then rescinded his interest in helping my non-profit and all of his promised introductions.

It is the subtlety of misogyny that makes today’s industry more dangerous than ever before. Though pay gaps are published and festival lineups form viral conversations, who is there to protect us against the everyday dangers? Is anyone there to speak up when a male manager only addresses my male colleagues in a meeting? Or when a male artist invites me up to his hotel room after a promo trip? How far must they go for you to notice?

Louise Latimer – manager

When I was in my early twenties and working my first job in management, the head of a major publishing company asked me to meet him after work one day. I was thrilled and flattered, as I thought he was going to offer me a job. We went to a fancy hotel and he ordered rounds and rounds of martinis.

It was only when he tried to kiss me did I realise there was no job offer. I felt stupid and embarrassed. I told myself I’d been stupid to think I was desired for my talent, and that confidence kick had long-term consequences.

Katy J Pearson – solo artist

Katy J Pearson (H Hawkline)
Katy J Pearson (H Hawkline)

I welcome the recent Women And Equalities Committee report, as it fosters a sense of support, acknowledgment and validation for our experiences. As someone who has been part of the music industry since my teenage years, I have often been in uncomfortable working environments with people – many of them complete strangers – who have made me feel unsafe as a young woman. Furthermore, the constant assumption that, as a woman, I don’t play my own instrument or write my own songs has been exhausting, frustrating and demoralising.

Charlotte Patmore – photographer

Charlotte Patmore, photographer (Supplied)
Charlotte Patmore, photographer (Supplied)

When I was starting out in the industry, I got to shoot a festival abroad with a high-profile magazine. This was a huge opportunity for me, however the deal was I wouldn’t get paid a flat fee and I had to cover my own expenses (flights and accommodation). I would only be paid if the shots I took made it into the magazine. I knew at the time this would be financially crippling, but the incentive of national coverage made the offer appealing and I would have to work hard to do the best job if I were to be financially rewarded.

One evening during the festival, a man from the magazine made a move on me. I was completely shocked, and when I said no he became angry. The punishment for rejecting him was that he cut the big feature I had been working on, so neither me or the journalist I went with got paid. The band we had worked with didn’t get any coverage. The repercussions for me saying no to his advances penalised everyone involved. I hated that he could use his power to hurt us all.

Sarah Joy – agent, ATC

Sarah Joy, music agent (Press)
Sarah Joy, music agent (Press)

From my experience, being a woman in the “back office” of the music industry often means being the only woman in the boardroom or backstage. The underrepresentation of women in general, but especially at the top end of the industry, is still a massive problem. While there are a few heavyweight female agents, managers, promoters, label reps, and a lot of up-and-coming ones, it still is very much a boys club, and all too often you are the only woman in that room. Often, this creates a power dynamic that is unhealthy for women to work in, whether from the threat of sexual assault to having people look down your top at conferences, to simply fighting to be taken seriously or having to be “aggressive enough” to be heard in a male-dominated space.

I find support from the other women around me, as well as from my supportive male colleagues. There is a great camaraderie between music professionals of both sexes who mentor and support each other through the unregulated murkiness of this industry.


When I was 22, I was given a job as a tour coordinator on a tour with a popular rock band. The band and crew were all male – I was treated like their assistant and made to do whatever they wanted. One of those tasks was to go to a band member’s hotel room after the show, and “hang out” with him, which involved giving him a shoulder massage and sitting with him on the bed, until he told me I could leave.

Once, after a bad show, the singer asked me to go back to his hotel room, as per usual, but this time he was in a real state. He tried to kiss me, and when I rejected him, he locked his hotel room door and said I couldn’t leave until I did. I said no to kissing because I didn’t “feel well”, so he made me lie next to him and give him a hug until he fell asleep. The door was still locked. When he eventually fell asleep, I unlocked the hotel room door and ran as fast as I could to where I was staying.

He said I couldn’t leave the room until I kissed him

The following day, I had to pretend like nothing had happened, and he ignored me for the rest of the tour. The male tour manager then sent me an email accusing me of getting too close to the band members and told me that I wasn’t good at my job but because I am ‘too close’ to the band and wouldn’t be invited back. The band member never spoke to me again despite seeing him multiple times.

Amy Walpole – lead singer, Witch Fever

Many things have happened to us over the years as a result of the music industry being patriarchal and a boys club, from being patronised and disrespected to more sinister incidents like upskirting, sexual harassment and assault.

Witch Fever (Sarah Akomanyi/Press image)
Witch Fever (Sarah Akomanyi/Press image)

One thing that is a constant that happens at a lot of gigs is the male crew members’ assumption that we don’t know what we’re doing. One moment that stands out for me took place during a soundcheck: the sound guy was struggling to get my vocal mix right. He proceeded to lecture me about the vocal pedal and mic I was using, throwing loads of technical jargon at me and questioning me in front of everyone. He then asked me if I’d ever played a gig this size before (assuming that I hadn’t). The whole crew that day continuously referred to us as “young ladies” and “young girls”.

Our talent is constantly downplayed, with doubt thrown over whether we are worthy enough to be on the stage. We’re treated like kids and patronised. It’s a symptom of the music industry being so straight white male centric that anyone that isn’t a straight white male has to push very hard to be listened to. We’re forced to prove our worth to be on those stages just to gain a basic level of respect that most men get without even trying.

Laura Mary Carter – lead singer, Blood Red Shoes

Laura Mary-Carter (Press)
Laura Mary-Carter (Press)

Before my band was signed, an A&R representative from a major label pulled me aside, suggesting I didn’t need my bandmate and should part ways with him. Subsequently, he began sending inappropriate texts, mentioning his children would love me and making unwelcome suggestions about visiting his house. Ultimately, it became clear he had no genuine intention of signing my band.

Alice Johnson – lead singer, Swim School

My first experience of playing a show was Swim School’s first ever support slot. As someone who had never played a gig in their life, never mind sung in front of anyone before, I was extremely nervous. As we took the stage to play to a sold-out room, we started tuning our instruments when I noticed a man trying to get my attention at the front of the stage. I panicked, thinking something had gone wrong, so I asked him if everything was OK.

Alice Johnson, Swim School (Press)
Alice Johnson, Swim School (Press)

“Make sure your g-string is tight enough for me, love,” were the words that came out of his mouth, before he laughed and waltzed off back to his group of mates, who found it just as funny. I remember having to carry on playing the show as if nothing had happened, which would’ve been easier if he hadn’t heckled me all night with further inappropriate comments. I somehow managed to finish the set before I broke down in tears backstage, consumed by a heavy feeling of dread that every show was going to be like that. That this was going to be the reality of being a woman in music.

Five years on, I still experience incidents like this. The only difference now is that I don’t let them get away with it. As frustrating as it is, there is no greater thrill than standing up for yourself and putting someone who tried to intimidate and humiliate you in their place.


I had just accepted a new job at a label that exists within a bigger company. Before my start date, I was invited to drinks with the wider company: I knew no one except one person, my new boss. As the night progressed, I ended up sitting next to a man who was 40 years my senior, and who through conversation I learned was a notorious artist manager.

I was joining in on the conversation and asking him questions, until at the end of one of his stories he turns to me and openly says in front of all the other men in the conversation, “We should have sex.”

It felt like such a ridiculous statement in the moment that I laughed it off, but he kept going, saying “no really we should” and bringing it up again later in conversation multiple times, embarrassing me and making me feel so uncomfortable, in an environment/group of people I was totally new to. The other men in the conversation just laughed; I told him to f*** off in a lighthearted way and tried to change the subject.

I dreaded the moment he would come into the office

Once I’d started the role, I began to feel extremely uncomfortable every time he came into the office. I dreaded seeing him there because it was so awkward and I felt so creeped out by him. This manager is someone who is currently managing a young female artist, which fries my brain. Whenever the subject of this man’s behaviour is raised, the response is always: “Yeah, he’s gross but that’s just how he is and no one is gonna do anything about it.” I know this reaction will be alarmingly familiar to other women in the music industry.

Maria Torres – artist management, Mother Artists

Throughout my seven years in the music management sector, I’ve navigated countless situations where presumptions about my role were based solely on my gender, particularly within the dynamics of band and touring scenarios. Frequently finding myself as the lone female during soundchecks and load-ins, assumptions that I must be a band member’s ‘girlfriend’ persist, diminishing my professional standing. Even in recent encounters at music festivals, derogatory comments were directed at me while spending time with a male musician friend, highlighting the enduring prevalence of misogyny.

Maria Torres, manager (Supplied)
Maria Torres, manager (Supplied)

These experiences, though sadly familiar, prompt reflection on the absurdity that such biases persist. Despite the respect and recognition I’ve earned through hard work as an artist manager, these assumptive attitudes linger, unfairly affecting not just me but many women in the industry. It’s a frustrating reality that underscores the considerable distance we still have to travel for women to be acknowledged as equal counterparts in this field. The multitude of stories I hear regularly makes my blood boil. Let’s keep this conversation alive to shed light on the severity of misogyny in the music industry and work collectively for change.

Jessica Winter – solo artist

Jessica Winter (Press)
Jessica Winter (Press)

The most significant thing to say is that every negative experience I’ve had during my time as a musician has been a result of a gendered power dynamic. My examples come from male music managers and producers. I’m now a music producer myself, often running one to one sessions from a home studio and I’m fully aware there is a power dynamic when working with a young artist and I don’t abuse that.

One of the biggest strains misogyny has caused me is that as a woman you are taught you will expire at the age of 30.  I found there was an inordinate amount of pressure on the shoulders of a 17 year old aspiring pop star with a future lying only in the hands of older male producers, managers and record label execs. This resulted in feeling obligated to stay in dangerous and sexual environments like being obliged to go for drinks with someone after sessions to stay in the fold and then it ultimately leading to sexual advances, where you feel like you can’t say no without offending them and then never getting to work with them again.

Dodie – solo artist

Dodie (Greta Isaac)
Dodie (Greta Isaac)

Even the fact that I don’t feel as if anything I write about matters is a telling thing. We’re all aware by now that the world of music especially the touring industry is a boys world. I keep stickers in my bag that say “no bin by a toilet is sexist!” for the venues where I’m left sat on the toilet wondering whether I should just leave my items in protest or carry the thing around with me. I got so tired of breathing through the shriek that builds up in me whenever I am not listened to that I learned to shout a little more, and I don’t like it... but what are we supposed to do when no one is listening?

Chloë Black – solo artist

Chloe Black (Paul Mauer)
Chloe Black (Paul Mauer)

My experience of misogyny in the music business began with the very first demo I ever sent out. I’d been working two jobs to pay for these recordings and the only feedback I got from the A&R in question was that I was “too ugly”. He saw my photo and dismissed me out of hand. This would be the first of many comments like that and so much worse. One producer I got to work with was married with children. We would work together and he would often try to kiss me whilst I was playing piano and his wife was nearby. I was terrified.

I’ve been abused, raped and threatened

What followed was a slew of predatory men making false promises and knowingly abusing their power. When I did my first big label showcase, the A&R who had brought me in kissed me on the lips in front of my manager right before I had to sing in front of LA Reid. A music publisher once spent an entire evening telling me about how he had elaborately proposed to his new fiancé only to later (completely out of blue) start masturbating in front of me. I was horrified and never told anyone because I knew that I likely wouldn’t be believed and would end up being the only person to be punished by saying something. I still see him to this day at Grammy parties and various music events where I have to try to hide my body’s uncontrollable shaking response.

I was drugged by an A&R exec who I later found out has had other allegations and was fired from his most recent label job for sexual misconduct. My physical appearance was constantly picked apart even by women in the industry. I’ve been called “too old” since the age of 25. I’ve been called ‘aggressive’ for emails so benign they could’ve been written by a toddler. I have spoken to label HR and ended up in tears after being repeatedly asked, “Are you sure?” I was abused, raped, had my life threatened and have been victim-blamed relentlessly. I now have very debilitating diagnosed PTSD that makes every aspect of my daily life incredibly difficult, and it is thanks to a business where rape culture is not only normalised but expected.

Rape Crisis offers support for those affected by rape and sexual abuse. You can call them on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, and 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland, or visit their website at www.rapecrisis.org.uk. If you are in the US, you can call Rainn on 800-656-HOPE (4673)