This is an open letter to a good portion of the music industry.
I know that most of you are respectable people. You got into this crazy business because you loved it. Music made your world go round- everything from playing shows and the concert adrenaline to the other side of breaking news and interacting with your heroes. It’s that last part I want to address here, and I’m talking directly to the scene.
Over the last several years- and especially in recent months- our world has been rocked by accusations of misconduct and a vast range of abhorrent acts. Opening social media every morning and seeing the latest wave of abusers to be unmasked on the internet is exhausting. What’s more exhausting is allowing these people to take up so much space in our news cycle and our attention, instead of highlighting those who’ve taken the route of not being the worst human beings alive.
I can’t be the only person to think that it takes minimal energy to not be a scumbag. I’m sure at least 95% of you reading this go about your days being generally good people and it never crosses your mind to screw someone over, express racism or homophobia or solicit underage people for sex (and the list goes on). To a lot of you, this editorial is preaching to the choir.
It’s the other 10% (I’m making these numbers up, do what you will with percentages) that I’m concerned about. How are you the way that you are? How can you live your life knowing that what you’re doing is wrong and continue down that path? And at the end of the day, how can you not expect to get caught and have your career vanish in an instant? How is that point alone not a deterrent for any of this behavior?
Our corner of the industry needs to do BETTER. We should be a compass for good, pointing at artists and creatives that do this for the love of the game and not the love of the fame. We need to call out the bad seeds, cull them from our minds and hearts and go back to pointing at the exemplary ones. There are so many honorable people creating truly awesome things that never get half the attention as the latest scandal, doing absolutely no one any good. The best of who we are gets swept to the side in favor of the cheap thrill that comes with unearthing the rot in our scene.
This editorial is not meant to harangue anyone, rather, I hope it can serve as a call to arms. Speaking for myself and my team, Atlas was created with the mindset of highlighting positivity and honest creative vision. Admittedly, we’ve been wrong in the past, but I like to think that we learn to be better every day. We’re doing our part to shine a light on great people making great things so others can find that out as well.
For artists- get it together. Like I said before, it’s so easy to go about your day not being a bad person. Make good music, tell your stories, express your opinions and do everything with integrity. Don’t allow the “boy’s club” mentality poison our scene any longer- call out your friends and your bandmates when they become part of the problem and if they’re unwilling to fix it, be part of that solution too. We want to support you so please keep giving us reasons to do so.
For fans, publications and beyond, I hope that you too operate under this mindset and can begin to actively purge the drivel from our feeds. Don’t get me wrong- always expose the bad ones. Believe victims. Never cover up a real story. Shout it far and wide so we can collectively and immediately remove this negativity from the scene. Then we’ll all be more aware and we can move forward without the static clogging our heads.
This op-ed has been brought to you by one tired writer who hates seeing the same cycle perpetuated. When I started writing this piece, Twitter was exposing at least one new person a day. In the week since, that number has increased dramatically. I can only hope that those being exposed and those about to be brought to light are profoundly discomfited in the knowledge that their actions will now (hopefully) be met with consequences.
In my line of work, I’ve met so many amazing people, spoken with true artists and watched genuine passion light up everything from shoebox venues to arenas. Together we can make this the industry standard, instead of letting the bad ones run unchecked into oblivion. I hope that you’ll join me in this dream- while it may be idealistic, I also see it as a future we can achieve and definitely one that I want to be part of.
If you’ve been the victim of sexual abuse, you are not alone. There are people and resources to assist those in need.
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255