A new helpline that supports those suffering bullying and harassment within the UK music industry has launched today.
The service is provided by independent UK charity Help Musicians. It follows the intervention by Rebecca Ferguson, who spoke out on the need for more to be done to support musicians experiencing difficulties.
The majority of musicians in the UK work on a freelance basis. The new helpline aims to fill a gap in support provision, ensuring that those working in the music industry have a place to turn for advice and practical help.
There is broad support right across the music industry for a range of measures to deal with the issue, with organisations including UK Music, the Musicians' Union, the Incorporated Society of Musicians and BPI supporting the launch of the helpline.
The new service provides support in a number of ways, from guidance on how to raise and resolve issues to advice on rights and avenues for formal action.
The service is not only being offered to professional musicians, but to everyone working within the music industry. Callers are able to immediately speak with a specialist bullying and harassment counsellor, who undertakes a risk assessment.
As a first step, the advisor will assess if an informal resolution of the situation is possible, and offer coaching on how to approach the perpetrator or organisation if suitable. If the assessment finds that a more formal approach is required, the caller will be offered information and guidance on the options available to them.
The new helpline aims to shed more light on the extent of the issue across the industry and inform collaborative, industry-wide efforts to help stamp out bullying and harassment.
Help Musicians will ensure full anonymity for all callers and the service will work alongside The MU’s SafeSpace service, which remains open, and the ISM-MU Code of Conduct. Anyone within the UK music industry experiencing bullying and harassment can call the helpline on 0800 088 2045.
James Ainscough, chief executive of Help Musicians, said: “Bullying and harassment requires a collaborative response across the music industry. The creation of the helpline is a vital next step and Help Musicians is well placed to provide this service, as an independent charity. Anyone who is concerned about a bullying and harassment situation can call the helpline, share their concerns confidentially and receive advice on how to navigate the issue they are facing. We hope in time that musicians and all those who work in music will feel better emotionally supported as well as gaining practical advice on how to resolve any problems.
“The anonymous insight we will gather through this service will shed more light on the issues being experienced and help to target the collaborative efforts for positive and permanent change across the music industry. This is a vital service, and we ask for everybody’s help in promoting awareness of it, to ensure that individuals who need it will know that they can call for support at any time.”
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, chief executive at UK Music, said: “For the vast majority, the music industry is an inclusive, safe and welcoming environment. However, this is not always the case which is why we must work together to urgently address bullying, harassment and discrimination. Help Musicians’ new helpline is a hugely welcome addition to the excellent work already under way to tackle these challenges and will become an invaluable resource. The music industry must take a united approach and keep working to bring about lasting change to make sure every workplace is a truly welcoming and supportive place for everyone.”
Deborah Annetts, CEO of ISM, said: “Like all sectors, music has a responsibility to ensure that it is inclusive, non-discriminatory, and has taken active steps to eradicate all forms of unacceptable behaviours, including harassment. It is great news that Help Musicians’ helpline has now been launched, complementing the work of other organisations such as the ISM, which runs a comprehensive legal service for its members in this field. But we also need to take time to reflect.
“There is no doubt that if we are serious about stopping harassment and other unacceptable behaviours then we must as a sector work together to achieve this. This is why the ISM back in 2018 developed the joint Code of Practice which now has over 115 signatories. To mark International Women’s Day this week, make sure your organisation has signed up to the Code, and if it has not, ask why not.”