Paula Franceschi is a 71-year-old electric guitarist who took a 25-year “hiatus” as a top marketing executive in Hollywood to make money before returning to music 10 years ago. She made it to the main stage of the House of Blues in 2014 at age 67.
Franceschi is one of thousands of subscribers to music blogger Bob Lefsetz’s almost cult-like newsletter. She was stoked when, starting Jan. 29, the Lefsetz Letter unwittingly became the first place for women in the music industry to share stories of harassment and rape.
Lefsetz included one of her comments in a subsequent newsletter as more women (and some men) wrote impassioned accounts to him, kicking up one of the biggest storms in the music industry since a blockbuster report on harassment at record companies published in the Los Angeles Times all the way back in 1991.
“The music business can be filthy to the bone,” Franceschi told The Daily Beast. “Women don’t have it easy and don’t want to lose what little they have. But the good news is thanks to what Bob’s putting out there, the men are fucked. It’s over. They better cash in their options now because we’re coming for them. Bob is like an accidental hero. He’s the kind of example we need out there, men stepping up for women.”
In addition to messages about specific sexual misconduct sent to Lefsetz, women in the music industry like Stacy Waronker, who’s managed Third Eye Blind and Troye Sivan, wrote to explain why she and her colleagues had been slower to speak out than their counterparts in Hollywood.
“Women are taught that you need to be able to ‘hang’ with the guys if they want to make it in this industry,” Waronker wrote. “And by whistleblowing in the industry, even for men who truly deserve it, we fear our repercussions. Because the terrible men in the music industry are still much stronger than this movement. At least for now. It’s exhausting. Our jobs are hard enough without having to constantly dodge advances and question intentions. It’s not right, it’s not fair, but I understand why my peers are mum. It still just doesn’t seem smart or safe or ‘worth it’ to speak up.”