A leading music business figure has slammed the industry's sexist treatment of women, saying it is "a huge problem".

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday after singer Lizzie Marvelly's hard-hitting column about the issue in yesterday's Weekend Herald, Australasian Performing Right Association head of operations Anthony Healey said women got a raw deal in music.

Kiwi music star Marvelly said she had been groped, manhandled and had music industry chiefs attempt to force a kiss on her when she started out in the business. In some cases the men were old enough to be her father; in others they were married.

Healey said her comments raised important questions about the way women are treated in the music world and claimed there were numerous examples of sexism both here and overseas.


"The music business undeniably has a huge problem with its relationship to gender," Healey said. "The lack of women in roles of responsibility and decision-making has been woeful. Has this led to an environment where sexism prevails? Without question it has."

Marvelly said she decided to write about her experiences to shine a light on a "culture of sexual harassment that affects our industry like a cancer".

Healey pointed out there are almost no women in New Zealand programming commercial radio stations, historically few have led record labels and few have produced records or promoted major concerts.

"Are we seriously saying that only men can do these jobs?" he said. "It has led to an inherently sexist environment. It's changing but it has to change faster.

"Thankfully today many of our funding agencies and industry organisations here are led and governed by women and there are a great number of massively qualified music managers guiding and building artist careers here in New Zealand."

Last night Marvelly told the Herald on Sunday she had received lots of supportive messages since opening up about her experiences. She was also heartened by Apra's statement. "It's amazing to see such a respected organisation acknowledge the issue."

Healey said his organisation was working hard to change ingrained attitudes towards women.

The association has more than 87,000 members across New Zealand and Australia who are songwriters, composers and music publishers. It licenses organisations to play, perform, copy, record or make available its members' music and distributes the royalties.

"Internally at Apra we've identified numerous road blocks for women within our organisation here and in Australia and we are determined to change the environment at least in our small corner of the business."