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Burger Records shuts down following allegations of predatory behaviour

By and | Published on Wednesday 22 July 2020

Burger Records

US independent Burger Records has shut down after numerous allegations of predatory behaviour towards young girls were made against both the company’s staff and some of the acts signed to the label. Initial plans to bring in new management, put personal conduct obligations into artist contracts and rebrand as BRGR RECS have seemingly been abandoned.

The allegations against the company began circulating last week, many collated by an Instagram page titled ‘Lured By Burger Records’. In an initial statement on Saturday, the label said that it had removed two bands from its roster due to accusations they had been “engaging in the grooming of underage girls for sex, relationships built on power imbalance, and the solicitation of pornography from minors”.

However, although Burger said in that statement that it had “a long-standing zero-tolerance policy for this sort of behaviour”, accusers subsequently stressed that these actions were not limited to a couple of rogue acts, but were, in fact, the outcome of a toxic culture within the company itself.

Yesterday, the label issued a second statement announcing a much bigger round of changes at the company. Co-founder and company president Lee Rickard would step down immediately, his fellow co-founder Sean Bohrman would move into “a transitional role”, and Jessa Zapor-Gray would take over as interim president of what would become known as BRGR RECS.

Still hoping to survive the scandal, the label said: “We understand that we will never be able to comprehend the trauma that women have experienced while trying to find a place in the music scene. We are profoundly saddened and sickened by the pain suffered at the hands of a toxic male music culture that does not value women as equals”.

It then said that it extended its “deepest apologies to anyone who has suffered irreparable harm from any experience that occurred in the Burger and indie/DIY music scene”, adding that the company was “deeply sorry for the role Burger has played in perpetuating a culture of toxic masculinity”.

As well as the restructuring and rebranding, the company said it would also launch of a new female-focussed imprint called BRGRRRL, and that it would implement a new standard artist agreement for all acts including “clear statements regarding unlawful and predatory behaviour”.

However, last night Zapor-Gray told Pitchfork that, having reviewed everything more closely, “I no longer believe I will be able to achieve my intended goals in assuming the leadership role at Burger in the current climate”.

She explained that those goals included salvaging the label, transforming it into something better and then handing it over to new management. However, having decided that’s not now possible, she said: “I have decided to step away from the label entirely to focus on my other projects”.

When asked by Pitchfork what that now meant for the future of Burger Records, Bohrman stated simply: “We decided to fold the label”.

Founded in 2007, Burger Records worked with hundreds of artists over its decade plus in business, including The Black Lips and Ty Segall.