the breath of fresh air that women bring to Australian music


Singer Katie Noonan, who was previously signed to Sony Music, said the decision to appoint a woman as chief executive has helped the industry become more like the company she makes music for. This is “another strong and important step in the right direction for our industry,” she says. “Along with the appointment of Annabelle Herd as ARIA’s first female CEO and Natalie Waller as ARIA’s first female President, I believe our industry breathed a collective sigh of relief, that ultimately the upper echelons of our industry are beginning to represent the reality of our modern society. world.


“I hope we continue to see the change we need to see in our industry and that Australian women feel empowered to be who they want to be.”

Music industry veteran Tatiana Marchant worked at Sony Music and experienced first-hand his toxic work culture before leaving. She said Picken’s arrival was the breath of fresh air Sony needed.

“The music industry has been run by dinosaurs for so long, I think it’s an exciting time for Sony,” she says. “Everyone I spoke to said it was a good decision, but I think the most important thing is that the company can move forward. [from the toxicity of the past].”

But, while change is in the air, the dinosaurs are not extinct.

When Herd started her role at ARIA, she says there was a shock that a woman got the job.

“I was a little surprised that in the market and in the industry, people were surprised that a woman was appointed to this position,” she says. “In my previous experience, many industry bodies have been led by women. My management team at Channel Ten was half male, half female, so when people came up to me and said ‘oh my god, a woman’s been appointed to ARIA’, I was surprised.”

Annabelle Herd, CEO of ARIA

She became immediately and acutely aware of the workplace culture issues facing the industry. ” I entered [the music industry] not fully aware of some of the challenges he was facing,” she said. “A lot of these challenges are encountered in every industry, by the way, but I think there are particular structural issues in our industry that make it a little more difficult and maybe there isn’t. hasn’t had the progress we’ve seen. in other sectors”.

Structural issues, such as the fragmented nature of the industry and the transient workforce and immense power that a handful of people wield, are just some of the unique challenges that music must overcome to solve. systemic cultural issues. But change is happening.

“The pace of change has been incredible, really, when you think about what’s happened over the last year and a half. And that’s incredibly positive to see,” Herd says.

She strongly believes that greater diversity in leadership positions can only help the industry take bigger steps towards safer workplaces and a more positive culture.

“Having more women in leadership positions in music is a no-brainer, because there aren’t enough of them,” she says. “And not just women. More First Nations leaders, people of color…diversity in leadership has been proven time and time again, for better decision-making, more innovation and better business.

It’s a sentiment that Dr. Jeffrey Crabtree agrees with. He is an academic at UTS, which teaches music business and professional practice. Last year he published a landmark study on sexual and workplace harassment in the music industry which found that nearly 10% of people working in the music industry had experienced serious harassment. .


He says having more women in leadership positions will be part of the broader change the music industry so badly needs.

“It will help, but it’s not the only solution,” he says. “There is no single solution because there is a set of serious problems.”

However, Crabtree says women in leadership positions can help solve one of the biggest problems. “When women are not in power, older men are much more likely to abuse their position,” he says.

So far, much of the responsibility for calling and making change falls on women in the industry. A meeting held in May last year after a series of negative stories about music industry culture was attended almost exclusively by women. Women constituted the entire working group set up from this meeting. Crabtree says the men have to do the heavy lifting too, and he thinks they will.

“I would also like to think that…younger men in the industry think differently about the relationships they have with women, they grew up with a different set of values,” he says.

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