A musician's boots next to a microphone cable standing in front of an outdoor festival audience

New helpline supports those suffering bullying and harassment within the UK music industry 

With the majority of musicians in the UK working on a freelance basis, there is currently no support of this kind available to individuals who are experiencing problems with difficult behaviour. The new helpline, provided by Help Musicians, 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.

Influential organisations including UK Music, The Musicians’ Union (MU), the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), and British Phonographic Industry (BPI) back the launch of the helpline to tackle the issue.

Is this for me? 

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 advisor, who undertakes a risk assessment.

In the first instance, the advisor will talk to you about your situation and offer advice on how best to resolve it, pointing you towards services which may be helpful to you. If appropriate, you will receive guidance in approaching a constructive conversation with the other party in order to resolve the issue. This may include preparation advice and coping strategies to use during the more challenging parts of the conversation.

Raising awareness of the issue 

As well as helping those impacted by bullying and harassment, the new helpline aims to shed more light on the extent of the issue across the industry and inform collaborative, industry-wide efforts for a positive and permanent change 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. 

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 the 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.”