In every career path, whether it be centered in the STEM fields, or in the Arts – one of the most important resources working individuals should always have access to is a professional whom they can reach out to in case of workplace issues: every employee deserves an HR department. Every voice in the workplace, whether it be an office job, or in the performing arts deserves to be treated equally and professionally: unfortunately, this is not a reality for many working in creative industries.
For those working in what is typically considered a ‘professional environment’ (more often than not, STEM fields), employees rights are usually taken a lot more seriously than those in other industries: such as those in teaching, video game development and of course, the music industry.
That’s just to name just a few, of course. While this differs from company to company, employer to employer: it’s imperative that we recognise the disparities when it comes to the working rights of those in different environments. In the music industry, despite the serious need for HR support: there seems to be none, leaving performers and creatives at a loss when it comes to their working rights. The lack of support unfortunately comes with the misconception that these industries are less professional than others, which is extremely harmful to those involved: leaving individuals open for extreme exploitation with no legal support.
Musicians such as Lily Allen and Kate Nash have been vocal about mistreatment in the industry. In a 2018 interview with Newstatesmen America, Lily Allen referenced the lack of support in the industry:
“There isn’t a HR place to go to because everyone’s self-employed. You can’t go to the record company, nobody there’s looking after you. Management’s not looking after you. You’re all on your own.”
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Kate Nash stated, in reference to acting in the Netflix series GLOW and her experience in the music industry:
“As many problems as there are with Hollywood, I feel so much more protected because if there’s a serious issue, I have someone I can talk to. Where’s that in the music industry? We need it. Because our lifestyles are associated with partying, it hasn’t had to be professional. But you’re like: ‘Where’s HR?’”
Working in the music industry is a highly stressful career despite its association with partying – especially for those who have achieved fame, being in the public eye can severely affect one’s mental health – whether it’s travelling or constant media attention, it’s a lot of stress to place on one human being without the resources to tackle these issues. Feeling alienated and exploited in the workplace is awful enough as it is, but without the resources to protect oneself it can leave a serious impact on individuals and their careers. This lack of support for creatives is extremely unethical, and needs to be tackled immediately. Whether it be in an office or on a festival stage: the right to be treated fairly and equally as a working professional with appropriate resources needs to be afforded to everyone.