It’s Time to Forgive Ryan Adams

Hi! My name is Rachel Hurley, and I am a 30-year veteran of the music business. I currently own a boutique music publicity firm, Sweetheart Pub, where I work with up-and-coming Americana, Folk, and Country artists. For more info about me and what I do, please visit

I may regret this. But it’s The Year of Truth — so let’s go.

I mostly agree with this piece from, uh, The Federalist.

Doh. Never thought I would write THOSE words.

The piece ends on the question of forgiving Ryan Adams for his past transgressions. Well, I’ve got some thoughts.

I believed the women when they came forward. It was an easy decision. Even though I have been a die-hard fan of Adams’ music since seeing him on SNL in 2001 — I’d heard countless ‘Ryan Adams is an asshole’ stories over the years. People in the music industry love to gossip. I’d turned down at least two opportunities to meet him years before his behavior hit the national news. I loved Adams’ music so much that I didn’t want to meet him and have him ruin it for me.

When his treatment of women in his orbit came to fruition — my first thought was — DUH. I’ve been in the music industry for 30 years — and in that time, men have treated me horribly. From the dismissals to the appropriations of ideas and credit, the sexual advances that I so easily blew off (creating enemies for life) to many literally trying to destroy me and my reputation with lies and gossip. People always talk about the music industry like it’s unique and special unto itself — but after comparing notes with women across a myriad of careers, I no longer believe that. It’s not very out of the ordinary for people to be childish and terrible to each other in any industry.

Did Adams deserve to be canceled? I think this question is ridiculous. The women never asked for him to be punished, or canceled, they just told their stories. Losing his record deal and the label deciding not to put out the three records that were due to be released the year the New York Times story came out were just consequences of his actions. I read everything I could about the underage situation — and from what I could gather — he never met her in person, and she admitted to lying about her age. Was it poor judgment on his part? YES — but addicts have poor judgment. What happened to him was just a natural outcome — not worthy of questioning any more than if someone’s wedding day deserved to have rain.



Rachel Hurley / Owner of Sweetheart Pub

The Year of Truth - a series of essays to share my thoughts on some inconvenient truths about the music industry.