On Wednesday, less than three weeks after a judge refused to release Kesha from her recording contract with Dr. Luke, who she says abused her — leading to outrage from some of the industry’s top artists — TheWrap reported Sony Music is trying to cut ties with its star producer.
However, Dr. Luke’s attorney Christine Lepera disputes this report. “This is not true,” she said via a statement from Dr. Luke’s spokesperson. “Luke has an excellent relationship with Sony. His representatives are in regular contact with executives at the highest levels at Sony and this has never come up.”
Dr. Luke, one of pop music’s most successful hitmakers over the past decade, runs Kemosabe Records under the Sony umbrella. TheWrap reports that Dr. Luke’s five-year contract is up in early 2017, but after the torrent of awful publicity over the past month, the company has had enough. Many high-profile singers from Adele to Lady Gaga have spoken up in support of Kesha, and Taylor Swift donated $250,000 to help cover her legal expenses.
“Kesha has no case in regards to her contract, but they can’t afford the Adeles of the world out in the streets calling the label unsupportive,” an unnamed source told TheWrap.
Sony Music did not return a request for comment.
In 2014, Kesha sued Dr. Luke, whose legal name is Lukasz Gottwald, and accused him of sexual assault, battery and emotional distress, which triggered an eating disorder that sent her to rehab. She asked to be let go from her contract. Dr. Luke countersued, calling the allegations derogatory and claimed Kesha was trying to extort him to get out of the recording agreement and was seeking a more lucrative deal elsewhere. He has emphatically denied Kesha’s allegations of sexual assault.
Kesha’s case took a hit in February when the New York Supreme Court denied the pop star’s request for a preliminary injunction, meaning she’s still on the hook to make the six albums left on her contract — although she would not be required to work with Dr. Luke, and could collaborate with other producers.
“My instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing,” Judge Shirley Kornreich said, adding she would not “decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry.”
Photos of Kesha sobbing in the courtroom (and the hashtag #FreeKesha) went viral, and resulted in a slew of stars publicly supporting Kesha and condemning the situation.
Public relations-wise, it’s only gotten worse for Sony. Recently, Kelly Clarkson (still on the company’s RCA label) recently recalled her days working with Dr. Luke as “a really hard time” and said the producer is “not a good person.”
Although many have wondered why Sony won’t just let Kesha out of her contract, Sony’s attorney told the New York Times that the company has no legal right of its own to terminate Kesha’s agreement, since her deal is through Dr. Luke’s production company.
Over the years, Dr. Luke has produced monster hits from Miley Cyrus (“Party in the USA,” “Wrecking Ball”) to Katy Perry (“I Kissed a Girl,” “Teenage Dream”). TheWrap notes that Kesha is by far the most profitable star for Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe Records, which also features pop singer Becky G and rapper Juicy J.
Kesha’s 2010 debut album “Animal” went double platinum and boasted No. 1 singles like “Tik Tok” and “We R Who We R.” She hasn’t released new music since her sophomore album “Warrior,” which featured the hit “Die Young.”