Ty Stiklorius once worked with a young artist who was so traumatized by sexual harassment from music industry executives that she gave up a chance to write a hit pop song and instead walked away from the business.
“It’s a pervasive issue,” Stiklorius said at the Billboard Annual Touring Conference and Awards this week. “She reported it. Nothing was done.”
Stiklorius was one of dozens of speakers to take the stage at the Billboard conference, held Tuesday and Wednesday in Los Angeles. She was joined by moderator Hannah Karp, Billboard’s news director, and Tina Farris, a longtime tour manager who has worked with The Roots, Lauryn Hill, Mary Mary, D’Angelo, Black Eyed Peas and Nicki Minaj,
The three discussed the state of the music industry and the role of women in what is still male-dominated fields. With accusations mounting against powerful men like Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K. and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, the issue of sexual misconduct is top of mind. Some of the women who have come forward have said their careers were ruined after the abuse took place.
Stiklorius, who manages John Legend and Lindsey Stirling and is the former co-President of the Atom Factory, recalled being shocked at an industry dinner when powerful executive reached under the table and started rubbing her leg. She said she was determined to learn everything she could and make it to the top despite such experiences.
“Right now, we are seeing a lot of industries being upset,” by women coming forward with accusations of sexual harassment and sexual abuse. “I think music has its own resounding time and moment. A lot of women in the business, if they are in the business at all, want to keep their jobs. Part of the reason I wanted to get to the top of this business is because I wanted to protect young artists coming up.”
She continued: “It’s sad that it’s (come out) because some very famous actresses have spoken up. What about the woman on the tour bus…or the young intern?”
Farris said that often, subtle sexual harassment can be difficult to address.
Sure, nobody’s supposed to pull their dick out,” Farris said. “There’s an extreme on one hand. Nobody’s talking about raping anyone but there’s also the subtle nuances. Do you speak up? It’s not a crime.”
Stiklorius said she wished that men in the music industry would speak out against harassment and abuse – even if it meant acknowledging their own bad behaviors and apologizing for them.
What’s more, she said, women need to stand together.
“We need to use our voices,” Stiklorius said. “Our voice is our greatest power. In the music business, for me, it means calling it out, telling the truth…and more importantly creating pathways toward supporting each other.”