Published February 26th 2016
Throughout this week, Sony Music has gotten a lot of slack from media and fellow celebrities about their part in the Kesha vs Dr. Luke case. The label has been consistently denying any comment, as this is still an ongoing lawsuit. However, with public opinion being driven up so high – over 100,000 people signed the petition to boycott Sony – and various media outlets publishing stories questioning recording contracts and the role of record companies, it was high time for Sony Music to finally break their silence too.
Sony Music Says They Are Just Caught In The Middle
In a response to the New York Times, Scott A. Edelman, Sony’s lawyer, explains how Sony Music, legally, has no influence to break the contract between Dr. Luke and Kesha. They are not a legal party in the actual contract.
In the music business, it’s common that a recording or production contract between two parties is being licensed to a bigger record label for, for instance, distribution.
This seems to be what has happened here. Due to many changes with the labels involved, the distribution deal is now in Sony Music’s portfolio and for this, Kesha is considered a Sony Music artist. However, with licensing, Sony Music has never become owner of the original agreement, which in this case, still stands between Dr. Luke and Kesha.
Kesha dragged Sony Music into the court case when she amended her claims with the addition that Sony Music knew about her abuse and didn’t do anything about it. Sony’s lawyer response in the New York Times only confirms the label has offered her to work on music without any involvement by Dr. Luke.
Dr. Luke’s Countersuit
Dr Luke still has to have his countersuit against Kesha ruled by a judge. He has sued Kesha for defamation and breach of contract. With Kesha’s loss in her case, Dr. Luke’s case looks like it has been strengthened.
However, his defamation claim against Kesha’s mom and manager was dismissed by a judge on February 3rd of this year, mainly due to jurisdictional issues. This was already expected, so Dr. Luke has the same case trialed in Tennessee, where Kesha’s mom is based.
What could help Kesha though, is that former Kesha managers DAS Communications mentioned Dr. Luke’s controlling and intimidating behavior towards Kesha in their statement about their lawsuits against the singer and Dr. Luke in 2010.
About 6 days ago, the online #FreeKesha movement have also started a GoFundMe page to raise $2 million in order to release Kesha from her contract. Over $20,000 has been raised so far.
Whether $2 million will be enough to buy her out of her contract is questionable. Kesha is signed for 6 more albums. Altogether, she’s sold over 60 million records worldwide, having released only 2 albums so far. Holding her to her contract is more valuable for Dr. Luke, unfortunately.
How To Move Forward
In the middle of all the statements and all the accusations, everyone knows that someone is lying. Public opinion, especially on Twitter is very clear with whom the public is siding. May hashtag #freeKesha give you a hint, if you already didn’t know.
Even when you put whatever the truth may be aside for a moment, which I know is impossible, the professional relationship between the two is irreparable. Imagine that you would have to step into the office with your abuser every day, or imagine you’ve been falsely accused of abuse by someone and you still have to work on projects together. It just doesn’t work.
Logically, it sounds highly unlikely the two will ever really enter a studio together. The music they’d produce could not be any good. How can you be creative when you have to watch your back all the time? It’s clear that what the judge has currently ruled, is not the way to move forward and Sony’s suggestion to prevent the two from working together is a reasonable alternative. Though it would be interesting to see what is going to happen with Dr. Luke case against Kesha. A judge there, might still agree with her, that she’s not breaching her contract under the circumstances.