Tunesmiths and Toxicity: Workplace Harassment in the Contemporary Music Industries of Australia and New Zealand

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The aim of this thesis is to investigate the nature and extent of workplace harassment in the contemporary music industry. There has been no previous research on the types of harassment prevalent and its effects on various music industry stakeholders. To achieve this, a mixed methodology was used, that combined semi structured interviews with 33 participants with an online survey of 145 music industry workers using the Negative Acts Questionnaire. This questionnaire, commonly applied in the field of organisational psychology, was developed to examine the phenomenon of workplace harassment and provides a taxonomy of toxic behaviour types as a framework for understanding harassment in the music industry context. This research finds that workplace bullying and sexual harassment are widespread, and are perpetrated by patrons, peers and power figures. The most common forms of workplace harassment include withholding information, being ignored, unmanageable workload, humiliation and sexual harassment. In comparison to their male counterparts, women experience harassment at more serious levels and with greater prevalence. Furthermore, the research proves that women are sexually harassed in ways that become normalised in the industry. Finally, the thesis demonstrates the serious personal cost to those affected, including career damage, career abandonment, and various psychological after effects. This research concludes that asymmetries of power are pivotal to harassment. Furthermore, a pervasive gendered power order subordinates women professionally, and renders them particularly vulnerable to harassment of all kinds. This research has implications for music industry peak bodies and for music education curricula in terms of ethics training, cultural change and remediation. Reporting harassment is problematic, in part because of a fragmented industry, and also because of the absence of an effective industrial or professional organisation. Government policy in the arts sector should review criteria to ensure that funding recipients operate with effective anti-harassment protocols. Inadequate enforcement of existing workplace safety and sexual harassment legislation also places music industry workers at high risk of harassment.
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