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Ryan Adams Accused Of Psychological Manipulation, Professional Retaliation By 7 Women

Singer, songwriter, producer and label executive Ryan Adams, photographed on Sept. 1, 2011, in London.
Dave Hogan
Getty Images
Singer, songwriter, producer and label executive Ryan Adams, photographed on Sept. 1, 2011, in London.

Ryan Adams, a prolific singer-songwriter and producer who first rose to prominence in the early 2000s, has been accused by seven women of using his professional influence to lure them into sexual relationships, including one when the woman was a minor. The women's stories were first reported by the New York Times in an article published Wednesday evening; each claims that Adams, as a well-known musician, would suggest artistic collaborations as a way to pursue or preserve the relationships. Through his lawyer, Andrew B. Brettler, Adams denied each allegation in the Times piece.

In separate interviews, the women told the Times that Adams offered to work with them before pursuing them sexually or emotionally manipulating them to remain in the relationship.

The accusers include Adams' ex-wife, the actress and singer Mandy Moore; singer-songwriters Phoebe Bridgers and Courtney Jaye; Adams' ex-fiancée, Megan Butterworth; and two unnamed individuals, also singer-songwriters.

In a series of tweets sent after the article's publication, Adams apologized to "anyone I have ever hurt, however unintentionally" but called the article "upsettingly inaccurate" and denied having "inappropriate interactions with someone I thought was underage. Period" and the assertion that he has the ability to make or break careers. According to the newspaper, Brettler called some of the accusations "grousing by disgruntled individuals."

Brettler did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NPR.

Much of the reaction to the Times' article pointed to how common stories like these have become.

"I've heard every detail of this story in composite about numerous other men in the biz," wrote Ann Powers, NPR's chief music critic. "Every gatekeeper is a man," remarked The Weather Station, a folk group led by Canadian artist Tamara Lindeman. Adams "didn't get away with this for so long because he made awe inspiring, impossible-to-criticize music," observed singer and Kickstarter head of music Meredith Graves. "He got away with it because 95% of the music industry from DIY on up are completely mediocre pervert dudes just like him." The "saddest part" about the Times'article, wrote Bethany Cosentino of the band Best Coast, "is that it could literally be written about so many dudes in music." Natalie Prass, a singer-songwriter with whom Adams has toured, tweeted: "Believe women, believe survivors."

A study released by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative this year documented a striking lack of gender parity within the recording industry: 21.7 percent of artists are women, 12.3 percent of songwriters are women and just 2.1 percent of producers are women. The study found that of 75 female songwriters interviewed by the authors, 36 percent found the industry's male domination to be a barrier and 39 percent reported being stereotyped and sexualized. A similar study of the film industry — which has been affected noticeably more by revelations of misconduct and abuse of power within it than the music industry has — found a similar disparity in power, with white male producers behind 72.3 percent of the 300 top films released between 2016 and 2018.

Adams is the latest name on a relatively short list of powerful music industry figures who have been accused by multiple people of sexual misconduct or psychological manipulation, including former label executive Charlie Walk, Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons, former Epic Records executive L.A. Reid and rhythm and blues artist R. Kelly.

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