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Activist shareholder calls on Warner Music to hand over files on sexual misconduct allegations

By | Published on Wednesday 14 September 2022

Warner Music

Former Atlantic Records A&R Dorothy Carvello has used her status as a shareholder in Warner Music to try to force the music major to share any records it has on sexual misconduct allegations – and other claims of bad practice – that have been made within the company.

In a letter sent to the major earlier this week, according to Billboard, Carvello’s lawyer states that there are “concerns that WMG’s management is not doing enough to investigate and act upon allegations of sexual misconduct at the company, and not monitoring the distribution of artist royalties in a manner that ensures sound accounting and payment”.

“Both issues”, the letter adds, “have the potential to expose the company to substantial liability and cause great reputational harm to WMG … [and] raise serious concerns about the truthfulness and accuracy of the company’s statements to investors”.

The letter then details a number of specific allegations and also requests documents relating to internal investigations, as well as information on any settlements and non-disclosure agreements that were made.

Carvello’s request for information is being made using a statute in Delaware’s company laws, which requires a company incorporated in a state to share requested information if a shareholder has a “proper purpose” that is “reasonably related to such person’s interest as a stockholder”.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Carvello says: “I want to see what the actual investigations, if any, were against these claims. We need more transparency from Warner Music Group. I don’t want a board that rubber stamps this behaviour”.

Commenting on Carvello’s letter, a spokesperson for Warner told reporters: *“*We take allegations of misconduct very seriously and enforce policies that respect and protect people that raise concerns”.

“WMG has an employee code of conduct designed to reinforce a safe, inclusive environment, and we continue to listen and learn for ways to stamp out discrimination and harassment from our industry”, they added. “The allegations detailed in this letter have already been dealt with publicly, many of them were raised years or decades ago”.

Carvello, who was the first female A&R at Atlantic Records US, previously detailed her personal experiences of working in the industry in her 2018 memoir ‘Anything For A Hit: An A&R Woman’s Story Of Surviving The Music Industry’.

Earlier this year, she also launched the Face The Music Now Foundation, an organisation that will support survivors of sexual harassment and abuse in the music industry. It also aims to work to change a system of what it refers to as “institutionalised abuse” within the sector.

As part of those efforts, Carvello announced earlier this year that she had become a shareholder in all three of the major record companies, with a view to eventually forcing – with the support of other shareholders – the termination of any NDAs currently in force over current or former employees relating to harassment.

It remains to be seen how effective her initial efforts with her former employer will be – she has said that she will launch legal action if Warner refuses to hand over the requested information. While Warner is incorporated in Delaware, Sony Music and Universal Music are not, so she will have to use alternative means to make similar requests of the other two majors.