Victims fear their allegations will end with "few consequences for the perpetrators".
Almost half of all musicians in the UK have faced sexual harassment in the industry, new research has claimed.
The Musicians’ Union carried out a new survey of 725 artists and found that 48% of artists alleged they had been sexually harassed while working.
A further 85% of those victims fear speaking out due to fears their allegations will end with “few consequences for the perpetrators”.
In recent years, the likes of Cardi B, Lily Allen and Madonna have spoken out against sexual abuse in the industry – with Allen alleging in her 2018 autobiography My Thoughts Exactly that she was assaulted by a record executive when drunk at a party.
Now, the Musicians Union claims that most young artists affected by assault ending up leaving the industry. They are calling on the government to introduce tougher legislation to prevent abuse.
Deputy general secretary Naomi Pohl said: “We are aware of far too many cases of talented musicians, particularly young or emerging artists, leaving the industry altogether due to sexism, sexual harassment or abuse.
“Many musicians who have gone public with their story are now being taken to court for defamation – evidence of the situation we’re dealing with. Survivors are often unable to speak out because the consequences for their career or personal life are devastating.
“In most cases we’re aware of, the survivor ends up leaving the workplace or the industry and there are very few consequences for the perpetrator.”
One artist, who wished to remain anonymous, said she had previously reported sexual harassment by a high-profile individual to a major industry employer.
“I understand I was one of 10 women making reports about the same individual and yet no action was taken as far as I’m aware,” she said.
“We are freelance musicians and the incidents occurred when we were performing on tour. I was told this was just ‘lad culture’ by the person investigating my complaint. No wonder such a high proportion of issues go unreported.”
As well as a new statutory code of practice, the union is calling on the government to introduce a mandatory duty on workplaces to take steps to protect people from harassment and victimisation.
The government is yet to respond.