Roundtable: Constructing Safer Spaces in Popular Music

Speaker(s): Shawna Potter and Kim Warnick and Perry B. Johnson.

A panel with Shawna Potter and Kim Warnick, moderated by Perry B. Johnson.

This event will be held via Zoom beginning at 12:30pm EST. 


The contemporary #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have forced us to confront the pervasiveness of sexism and sexual misconduct in popular music and entertainment industry spaces. Since 2017, a growing number of incidents have been disclosed by music industry professionals via traditional and social media, detailing the unique dangers and precarity of these spaces. As The Daily Beasts’ Amy Zimmerman articulates, “The recurring message is that, for women, the music industry is a Banksy-designed Choose Your Own Adventure book, with each career path containing its own lady-specific land mines.” 

At the same time, broader issues of safety in music spaces have reignited conversations about planning and enforcement at music events, particularly around hierarchies of power, systems of accountability and community care. From violent encounters in intimate recording studios to the prevalence of sexual assault against women at music festivals around the world and the devastation experienced by attendees at the 2021 Astroworld Music Festival, issues of danger and misconduct are endemic to the histories and structures of popular music industries.   

This panel brings together individuals whose work centers issues of safety within the popular music industries to share their efforts working on the ground as organizational and collective leaders, artists and activists to transform our experiences in and of music and music spaces. Join us for an urgent conversation about why the structures of popular music industries are particularly vulnerable to danger and misconduct, and how we can collectively work toward creating and ensuring safer spaces.

[1] Zimmerman, A. (2015, August 26). Women’s music industry horror stories: Abuse, sexism, and erasure. The Daily Beast. Retrieved from

About the Speakers

Shawna Potter has been teaching people how to prevent and respond to harassment and violence for over a decade. She is the author of Making Spaces Safer: A Guide to Giving Harassment the Boot Wherever You Work, Play and Gather and co-creator of the Safer Space Program, where she trains venues and groups to respond to complaints of harassment in a victim-centered way. She hosts the podcast But Her Lyrics…, fronts the feminist punk band War On Women, is an amp tech, rescue pup mom, wedding officiant and casual cross-stitcher.

Kim Warnick is the Program Director at Calling All Crows and was a 2021 She Rocks Award recipient for her sexual violence prevention work in the music industry through the #HereForTheMusic campaign. She has more than a decade of sexual violence prevention and response experience, 5 years of nonprofit leadership experience and 8 years of music industry experience. Kim holds a BA in Sociology from Harvard University, where her studies focused on social movements, organizational culture and conflict and peacebuilding, including an intensive study in Rwanda and Uganda.

Perry B. Johnson is a postdoctoral fellow with the Center for Media at Risk and the Annenberg Center for Collaborative Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Her primary research and practice focus on music, popular culture and American cultural histories, with an emphasis on archives, public scholarship, power, identity and belonging. She is at work on the manuscript for her first book, a cultural history of sexual misconduct in America’s popular music industries. Johnson is also the co-founder and co-director of The Sound of Victory, an interdisciplinary, multi-platform initiative dedicated to investigating the historical relationship between music/sound and sport. She received her Ph.D. from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, where she had a graduate affiliation in the Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies and was a research fellow with The Popular Music Project at USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center.

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