Dear SONA Members and Friends of SONA,
Here are a few facts of which you may not be aware:
SONA’s membership is 60% female, 40% male
SONA’s executive committee is 70% female, 30% male
SONA’S legal advisement is 100% female
The gender breakdown favoring women makes SONA unique not only among songwriter organizations, but among music business trade organizations in general. Up until now, our founding principle has always been advocating for the value of songs and songwriters across digital platforms—an issue that concerns songwriters of all genders.
But recent news stories about sexual misconduct throughout the entertainment industry have given rise to introspection and discussion within our ranks that we simply cannot ignore. Every day, we hear stories from women in the music business about their harrowing experiences of sexual harassment, intimidation, and even assault at the hands of male executives, collaborators, and colleagues. Whether we hear these stories through the media, or across the lunch table, what’s very clear is that the effects are as far-reaching as they are devastating.
Songwriters are not immune. We know this because we ARE the songwriters.
As sole proprietors and small business owners, we are currently unable to unionize. Songwriters have no HR Departments, no sexual harassment protocols, and as result, no real recourse to hold those perpetuating sexual harassment accountable.
But what we do have, is each other. So where does a female songwriter (or artist or composer or producer) go when a line has been crossed? While SONA is not a union, as a 501c6, a non-profit trade organization with a growing membership of working songwriters, we are positioned well to help enforce our industry’s current workplace standards, while sounding the alarm that our profession is in dire need of new ones.
Ongoing internal discussions within our leadership have resulted in significant additions to our directive, including:
Changing the SONA mission statement to include demanding and upholding safe and fair work environments for women in our industry and beyond.
Providing a protocol for songwriters to use should they choose to come forward with their own stories about misconduct. (please see * below)
Supporting women songwriters, composers, producers and engineers and respecting their right to have their stories heard.
Supporting initiatives to foster gender equality in jobs where men have traditionally dominated (like production and engineering).
We are in for a bumpy ride, but we’re hopeful that the outcome will be a more safe and respectful music workplace for everyone.
Kay Hanley, Michelle Lewis – co-executive directors
And the SONA Executive Committee
* If you have questions about a claim or complaint, please contact Katherine Atkinson and mention that you are a SONA songwriter or composer. In addition to assisting Time's Up, her firm represents the woman whose complaint resulted in Lauer's termination and women who worked for Harvey Weinstein. She can talk through the viability of potential sexual harassment claims as well as pros/cons of making a public, confidential, or anonymous complaint.