As the #MeToo movement exposed the alarming prevalence of sexual harassment in the film industry, it wasn’t long before similar stories in other industries also emerged.
While it hasn’t experienced quite such a seismic event as the Harvey Weinstein scandal, a number of high profile cases in the music industry have demonstrated a similar strain of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Instances such as Kesha vs. Dr Luke, which left the singer tied to a recording contract and unable to release music for four years after she accused the producer of rape and assault, while he waged a defamation lawsuit against her. Or Ryan Adams being accused of sexual misconduct and emotional abuse, Taylor Swift winning a civil lawsuit against a DJ who grabbed her behind, to the increasing and increasingly bizarre cases against R Kelly. It seems the music industry is potentially as riddled with inappropriate actions as much as the film industry, and the stories are continuing to reveal themselves.
Bebe Rexha, for example – a musician who has been in the industry for the best part of a decade, but has only found household recognition in the past couple years – has recently spoken out about a number of instances in which she experienced seriously inappropriate behaviour from people she was working with.
Speaking to Cosmopolitan, the 30-year-old singer-songwriter revealed several occasions of uncomfortable experiences with producers and songwriters, one of which left her secretly ordering a taxi and fleeing the studio.
There was one night. I was alone in the studio and a [different] producer had a group of five or six guys with him. I had heard things about him from his past and I just couldn’t take it any more. I felt like I was going to get raped. I quietly called myself a taxi from the recording booth, which was enclosed, and I got the fuck out of there. It was the worst night ever.
While, in another story, Rexha revealed:
There was a producer who would come into the studio and massage my feet. One time he tried to go above my knees and was getting a little rough, [so] I pulled my feet away. He said, ‘Nah, I’m going to do what I want’. But I was raised to never let someone touch my body if I don’t want them to.
However, the producer persisted later on, with his assistant reportedly phoning Rexha in the middle of the night to tell her he wanted to buy her a sundress to wear with ‘no underwear’.
Rexha added: ‘He’s really famous. My former managers said, ‘Just work with him, you need a hit song.”
The singer also recalled an encounter which took place at Dr Luke’s house, who had flown Rexha to LA early on in her career for her ‘big break’.
When I first got to LA, I worked with a very big producer. He put me in a room with lots of other songwriters and engineers who all seemed high. One writer walked in and said, ‘Listen – you have no hits, but I have loads, so I’m going to go downstairs and party with my friends and you’re going to write a song, record the vocals and edit it. That will be our song that we wrote together.’
Noting that what happened to Kesha could have easily happened to her, Bebe added:
I was scared that could have been my situation. I remember being at a dinner party with [Kesha and her mother, Pebe Sebert]. Her mom came up to me and whispered, ‘Don’t do it.’ She was talking about working with Dr Luke.
The music industry can be a dark place, and she could have been trying to stop me from getting in her daughter’s way. But I listened and honestly? Trusting her was the best thing I ever did.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.