63 Brave Creatives: The Music Industry & Being Bullied
Updated: Dec 11, 2021
This 100 Magazine op/ed was written by Tiffany Red, The 100 Percenters Foundation, Founder & Executive Director
Photo Credit: Zac Poor
For about a month now, The 100 Percenters board and I have been sharing our anonymous report card for songwriters, music producers, and recording artists to grade the performance of their publishing companies & record labels. We reached 432 creatives, but only 188 of them started the grading process, and just 63 of them completed it. One of the things we encountered quickly was how anxious the community was about giving their feedback. It was a frustrating process, but then it got me thinking. Why are they so worried? That thought led me to the first anonymous survey we did earlier this year that grades the experience of working in the music industry as a creative. Ironically there were 63 responses as well. We ran into that same nervousness with this survey too. This data may help explain the anxiety some of the community is feeling about sharing their experience.
44.4% of the group we surveyed completely disagreed with this statement, "I've never been bullied into doing any business I did not want to do." 49.2% of this same group said they sometimes feel safe in meetings with executives, and 17.2% said they never do. The fear around filling out our report card made sense to me after seeing these numbers.
Unfortunately, hostility is not uncommon in the workplace. USA Today reported in 2019, 'More than 90% of employees say they've been bullied at work'. I did a deep dive on google and found loads of research on workplace bullying and intimidation and how it affects productivity and health.
Phycologytoday.com says, "Bullying has been previously linked to numerous physical and psychological symptoms, including headaches, chronic neck pain, fibromyalgia, type 2 diabetes, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress symptoms, suicidal ideation, and others." They went on to say, "Furthermore, bullying is also associated with negative work-related responses. People who are bullied are more likely to have reduced commitment to work, feel dissatisfied with their job, experience job insecurity, and have a high rate of absenteeism." The music business is not exempt from this toxic culture, but creatives have no protection. We aren't employees of these companies; we're independent contractors signed to them. So that means, even though we have a publishing or recording contract, we're on our own. In an article published on equitablegrowth.org, Corey Husak, senior manager of government and external relations for the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, writes, "there are many reasons why being an independent contractor might not be advantageous for most workers, specifically when: They are denied crucial workplace rights such as 40-hour workweeks, the right to organize, protection from discrimination, and employer-provided health benefits". So how do we make our workplace better without having any workplace rights? If The PRO Act passes, there may be some hope for us independent contractor's soon. What is The PRO act? Here's what Wikipedia says, "The Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act, is a proposed United States law that would amend previous labor laws such as the National Labor Relations Act, for the purpose of expanding various labor protections related to employees' rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace.” Suppose songwriters, producers, and recording artists can get a collective bargaining agreement in place with the labels & publishing companies. In that case, we might be able to get some of those workplace rights after all. We might be able to get paid better and do something about these people bullying us at work. No matter how this plays out, we creatives want a healthier relationship with our publishers and labels, and we can't do that without effort from both sides. So here's our first report card from 63 brave creatives. These grades aren't the best, but I know we can make them better if we all do our part. I hope all the companies that have been graded in our report card take this opportunity for growth and hear us out.