Listening to abuse: the possibilities for ‘ethical listening’ in unethical music industries

  • Catherine Strong (Speaker)
  • Rosemary Lucy Hill (Speaker)
  • Bianca Fileborn (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


In recent years, there have been numerous revelations of abusive behaviours committed by, and to, people in the music industries. This paper considers what it means to engage with the music of known abusers, that of women artists who have been subject to abuse in the music industries and who grapple with their experiences through their music, or indeed any music at all created in a fundamentally exploitative system. Given that it is increasingly apparent that abuse – of various sorts - is a structural feature of the music industries, is some sort of ‘ethical listening’ even possible, and what are the conditions in which it can occur? How does a knowledge of abuse disrupt the nexus between listening and pleasure, and how might this produce new affordances? We argue that a reconfiguration of our expectations of music, and deliberate engagement with music that creates uncomfortable affects, may point the way towards a relationship with music that foregrounds the other, and therefore a less individualised and potentially more ethical listening experience. We concentrate in particular on three cases studies of women artists who have been abused while working in music – Kesha, Lingua Ignota, and Alice Glass – where the music they create to deal with trauma is still caught up in the structures that enabled it.
Period14 Jul 2022
Event titleKISMIF Conference: Keep It Simple, Make It Fast
Event typeConference
LocationPorto, PortugalShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational