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Burger Records Changes Leadership, Name Following Mass Sexual Misconduct Accusations

"We are also deeply sorry for the role Burger has played in perpetuating a culture of toxic masculinity"

California-based record label Burger Records announced a number of changes on Monday night following a massive influx of sexual misconduct accusations that have been raised since late last week.

The Instagram Lured_By_Burger_Records outlined dozens of accusations levied at the Fullerton-based label, its co-owners Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard, and some of the label’s bands.

“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,” the statement read.

“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 continued.

The label announced the dismissal of company president Rickard and his ownership stake in the company. Bohrman, it was announced, would be leaving his role as well and moving into “a transitional role.” Replacing them as interim president is veteran music exec Jessa Zapor-Gray. The victims’ account posted a statement disapproving of Zapor-Gray’s role.

To disassociate from the misconduct accusations, the company is changing its name to BRGR RECS and adding an all-woman imprint to the label, BRGRRRL. It vowed to start a fund to “to help pay for counseling services for those who suffered such trauma while engaging in the Burger scene,” and “will evaluate the whole of the existing label catalog and artists therein, discontinuing the distribution of artists according to our zero-tolerance policy.”

Read the statement in full below:

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.

UPDATE (7/21, 10:03 PM PST): In a statement obtained by SPIN, Zapor-Gray will longer be interim president. Additionally, the promotion company behind the Burger Boogaloo, Total Trash Productions, severed all ties with the label. “We are disturbed and disgusted by the allegations that have come out, and we stand with the survivors,” the promoter said. Read the full statement here.

Read Zapor-Gray’s statement below:

In the last year and a half, I have worked with Burger and Burger artists on communications and partnerships on a contract basis.

Over the weekend I was asked to assume the role of the label’s interim president with the hope I could reform the label into something better for the good of all of you, the artists. My plan was to quickly begin assessing and evaluating if anything about the label could perhaps be salvaged and made into something better, then eventually hand off a functioning label to a future administration unrelated to the label’s founders; or if I found that rebuilding was not possible, instead to organize and prepare the label for closure.

When I was asked to take over in this capacity, I expected some blowback for my decision to accept but I believed that the opportunity to have a role in effecting real and lasting positive change within the Burger and indie music scenes was worth the risk.

Upon further review, I have informed Burger Records that I no longer believe I will be able to achieve my intended goals in assuming the leadership role at Burger in the current climate. Therefore, I have decided to step away from the label entirely to focus on my other projects.

Jessa