California-based garage rock label and record store Burger Records shared a statement announcing "major structural changes" in response to multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against the labels' artists and employees.
The statement announced the resignation of its president and co-founder Lee Rickard, and indicated the label plans to change its name, among other things, after “a good deal of accusations [that] came out over the weekend." On Saturday, the label shared an initial statement making reference to accusations made against artists on the label for “engaging in the grooming of underage girls for sex, relationships built on power imbalance, and the solicitation of pornography from minors.”
"We extend our deepest apologies to anyone who has suffered irreparable harm from any experience that occurred in the Burger and indie/DIY music scene, the latter of which we take part,” the label's statement reads. "We are also deeply sorry for the role Burger has played in perpetuating a culture of toxic masculinity."
In addition to rebranding as BRGR RECS and the founding of an all-woman imprint called BRGRRRL, further plans include a bid to create safer spaces for women and minors at their events, a counseling fund for those who have "suffered such trauma while engaging in the Burger scene," and a zero-tolerance abuse policy. The label's other co-founder, Sean Bohrman, also plans to “move into a transitional role with the label" and Jessa Zapor-Gray is set to become the label's interim president. Bohrman told Pitchfork he would eventually step down from this position after assisting Zapor-Gray step into her new role.
“If you wish to leave the label," the statement reads, directly addressing its artists, "we will not stop you."
See the full statement below.
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.
We extend our deepest apologies to anyone who has suffered irreparable harm from any experience that occurred in the Burger and indie/DIY music scene, the latter of which we take part. We are also deeply sorry for the role Burger has played in perpetuating a culture of toxic masculinity.
We are sorry that we did not actively monitor this behavior well enough to make the Burger music scene safer for you. You should never feel you have to sacrifice your personal space to be able to enjoy music, for your career or in pursuit of your art; you shouldn't feel you have to choose between music and your comfort.
But words can only go so far in repairing any damage that has been created. It is the ability to put past behaviors under a microscope, and to fully listen to those who have suffered as a result of such behaviors, in order to be able to truly make meaningful changes so that not only do those behaviors no longer occur, but real positive change can be made to meet the moment.
It is with this in mind that we have decided to make major structural changes to the label and create and implement active policy measures to address the culture that allowed such harm to occur.
To begin, Burger Records co-founder Sean Bohrman will move into a transitional role with the label. Label co-founder Lee Rickard will immediately step down from his role as label president, and fully divest all interest in the label. Jessa Zapor-Gray will assume the role of interim label president. Jessa comes to Burger with extensive experience in the music industry and an extensive familiarity with the Burger catalog. We look forward to having her take the helm at the label.
In the spirit of change, here are the other actions we will be taking moving forward:
To create a clear delineation between the old and the new Burger Records, the label will become BRGR RECS. Furthermore, we will be adding an all-woman imprint to the label, BRGRRRL, which will serve to give many more women artists a platform and support for growth as musicians.
• BRGR will be instating a standard artist agreement, something we did not previously do. This will include clear statements regarding unlawful and predatory behavior. By doing so, we will create a clear path to restorative justice against predators in the future.
• BRGR will also begin working with experts in trauma and sexual assault awareness and consent education.
• BRGR will set up a counseling fund to help pay for counseling services for those who suffered such trauma while engaging in the Burger scene.
• The Burger Records shop, which is not a part of Burger Records, will no longer have any affiliation to the label and will change its name. The shop will also no longer host in-store performances of any kind.
• BRGR sanctioned events will have a dedicated safe space for women to enjoy music without fear of invasion to their personal space.
• An educated member of the community will be present at all BRGR sanctioned shows over 1000 attendees.
• BRGR sanctioned all-ages shows will have a dedicated safe space for those under the age of 18.
• BRGR will provide ongoing education and training to artists, management, and venues we work with on sensitivity and the effects of trauma.
• BRGR will evaluate the whole of the existing label catalog and artists therein, discontinuing the distribution of artists according to our zero-tolerance policy.
• BRGR will work with women in the industry, artists, and fans to create further actionable goals for educating our bands and the music community on recognizing abusive or predatory behavior.
We thank you for coming forward and for your courage to speak up, and want you to know that we are committed to doing real work to improve the culture of BRGR RECS and the indie music scene for all of us.
We want to be leaders in the industry and a model for other labels to effect real, lasting change.