Multiple accusations of sexual abuse and harassment have been levied against Ben Hopkins, a member of the pop duo PWR BTTM, coming into the public spotlight via social media on the eve of the launch of their sophomore album, Pageant. The music industry and community are resoundingly sympathizing with survivors and witnesses of abuse. As a result, PWR BTTM’s album release show in New York scheduled for Friday was cancelled. Their managers and labels have dropped them. Supporting acts have withdrawn from upcoming shows. At least one festival has dropped them from the lineup so far.
In a statement on PWR BTTM’s Facebook page on Thursday, the band offered to participate in mediation with those who are reporting abuse online. In part, the statement reads:
Our primary goal here is to ensure that a survivor of abuse has a voice, that their story should be heard and that people who cross the line should be held accountable. What this means for the band, our album, our fans and our upcoming tours is, as of yet, unclear. Music is everything to us, but we feel strongly that this matter needs to be addressed first.”
A touring member of the band who also helped with the arrangements on the album Pageant immediately resigned from the band. Cameron West had this to say on Twitter:
Today, like many PWR BTTM fans, I was shocked to discover that sexual assault allegations were levied against Ben Hopkins. From my understanding, these accusations were in fact levied via e-mail months ago, but were left unshared with other members of the band, including myself. In order to provide the highest possible respect to everyone who has come forward, I am hereby ending my tenure with the band as an arranger and touring musician.”
The band’s album release show which was scheduled for Friday night in New York City was cancelled.
Also on Friday, the band’s management agency, Salty Artist Management dropped the band. A portion of their Facebook statement reads:
In light of the allegations involving members of PWR BTTM, Salty Artist Management will no longer be working with the band. We do not take these kind of allegations lightly and our thoughts are with victims and survivors of abuse who have been affected by this.”
By Saturday, PWR BTTM was dropped from their current and former labels. Polyvinyl is offering refunds on any purchases of PWR BTTM music or merchandise made through their company. Those who made purchases can send a request via firstname.lastname@example.org. Polyvinyl is also making donations to RAINN, and AVP, organizations which assist survivors of sexual assault and violence. The label Father/Daughter Records, who released PWR BTTM’s debut album, Ugly Cherries, have also followed suit, pulling PWR BTTM music and merchandise, and donating to the same charities.
Over the past few days, supporting acts have withdrawn from billing on PWR BTTM shows. Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, iji, Ratboys, and Tancred have distanced themselves from the band in light of the allegations in public statements on social media. T-Rextacy acknowledged hearing about the allegations prior to them being made public. “We made a mistake supporting this band,” they stated. “We put our career above the safety of fans who have trusted us and supported us and there’s no way for us to remedy that.”
Furthermore, the band has been removed from the lineup of this fall’s Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh, North Carolina. “It is the primary goal of the festival organizers to ensure that everyone feels safe and free to express themselves.”
Friends and fellow members of the Brooklyn music scene Diet Cig summed up the feelings of many fans and supporters in a Tweet on Sunday:
we’re so heartbroken about these allegations and have been trying to sort through our feelings the last few days. one thing we know for certain is we believe and stand with the survivors, we take this very seriously. it’s scary thinking your friends could hurt someone like this but friendship doesn’t excuse these actions, or make them any less real.
Support and compassion goes out to all survivors and witnesses of abuse. The resources below are available 24/7 via online chat or phone to anyone impacted directly or indirectly by violence.