The Orange County, California-based independent record label Burger Records has gone through a slew of sexual misconduct allegations directed at its artists and what the label has now described as “a culture of toxic masculinity” within its spaces. In light of these allegations, the label has announced massive restructuring changes, as its two co-founders, Lee Rickard and Sean Bohrman, step down and move into a transitional role with the label, respectively.
The label has also changed its name to BRGR Recs, while Jessa Zapor-Gray has been announced as the label’s interim president. Rickard has also divested all previous interests in the label.
BRGR Recs will be instituting several new policies including a new artist agreement, with clear statements regarding unlawful and predatory behavior. The label also announced a new counseling fund “to help pay for counseling services for those who suffered such trauma while engaging in the Burger scene. They also expressed their intentions to work with experts in trauma and sexual assault awareness and consent education. This education training will also be extended to artists, management and venues, which will focus on trauma and sensitivity.
There are also plans on instituting safe spaces for women and those who are under 18 at all ages shows. There will also be “an educated member of the community will be present at all BRGR sanctioned shows over 1000 attendees.”
They have also severed all affiliations with the Burger Records Shop, which has also changed its name. The shop will also be putting an end to any in-store performances.
The label have also expanded on their previous Zero Tolerance policy, which was announced over the weekend in light of these allegations. Their statement states that they will “evaluate the whole of the existing label catalog and artists therein, discontinuing the distribution of artists according to our zero-tolerance policy.”
There are also several new plans to address women in the scene, which includes creating a new all-women imprint called BRGRRRL, to help highlight emerging women artists, while also discussing with women in the industry, artists and fans to recognize abusive and predatory behavior.
Read the full statement below:
To Our Burger Family,
As many of you know, a good deal of accusations came out over the weekend directed at Burger artists, the Burger label and the Burger culture itself. Many of you have experienced a great deal of blowback for your affiliation with us, and we are sorry. Some of you have decided to discontinue your association with Burger, and we understand why.
Today we are releasing the below statement to press and the Burger community at large. We welcome your feedback on everything written below and the way forward from here, if there is a way. If you wish to leave the label, we will not stop you, but we hope you will give the label a chance to do right and hope you will remain a part of the new BRGR.
Lee & Sean
STATEMENT FROM BURGER RECORDS
Dear Burger Community,
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.