Pop singer Kesha Rose Sebert, known professionally as Kesha, lost a bid Friday to be freed from her recording contract. Kesha alleged that her music producer Lukasz Sebastian “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, of Sony Music’s Kemosabe record label, drugged, sexually assaulted and emotionally abused her for a decade.
New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Kornreich denied Kesha’s motion for a preliminary injunction that would allow her to work outside of Kemosabe Records, arguing the contract was typical for the industry.
Tick tock on the clock: Time is running out for Sony to step in and remedy the problem. Sony should renegotiate its contract with Kesha for moral reasons and the potential financial benefits.
Some may think the decision is acceptable for Kesha because Sony agreed in the contract to consider allowing Kesha to record with other producers for upcoming albums, but this isn’t good enough.
She is still contractually required to produce at least six songs on each of her albums with Dr. Luke directly. Without the complete separation from Dr. Luke, Kesha may continue to feel victimized. Even if Kesha worked with another producer, Sony would not support or promote her new music – instead, they would set her up to fail.
Kornreich said it was unreasonable to assume that Sony, a competitive corporation, would not want to make money on their investment, Kesha. The judge didn’t understand Kesha’s problem with the contract. Yet it seems clear Kesha wouldn’t want to remain contractually bound to a company owned by her alleged abuser. Kornreich framed Sony as the victim of financial losses, not Kesha, who the judge believed had other options for fulfilling her contract.
“My instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing,” Kornreich said.
It’s egregious the judge’s first instinct was to protect Sony’s commercial interests; her first instinct should have been to protect the potential sexual assault victim.
Regardless of the apparent disregard for the victim’s protection, Sony’s decision not to release Kesha from her contract was not even commercially reasonable.
With litigation still pending and Kesha unwilling to work with her alleged abuser, it is unlikely Sony will see profits from Kesha’s music in the near future. Kesha has not released an album since “Warrior” in 2012, and she has not released any music since appearing on Pitbull’s “Timber” in October 2013. If she doesn’t release albums, she doesn’t make Sony any money.
The longer Kesha is unable or unwilling to record due to pending litigation, the greater the decline in her potential earnings, and the greater the decline in Sony’s potential earnings from Kesha’s music. Without new music to perform, she can’t tour, sell merchandise, receive sponsorships or remain in the artistic spotlight. Her brand value falls. Kesha has expressed the willingness to record an album for Sony directly, but only if it can be legally assured that Dr. Luke would not be involved.
In order to secure product sales and fix its rapidly declining reputation, Sony should enter damage control and settle its disputes with Kesha.
The court of public opinion appears to be siding with Kesha. Online petitions, like #FreeKesha and Boycott Sony products and music! have mobilized hundreds of thousands of people demanding Sony release Kesha from her contract. Celebrities like Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea, Kelly Clarkson and Lorde have tweeted expressing remorse over Kesha’s ordeal. Taylor Swift even donated $250,000 to aid in any of Kesha’s financial needs.
If Sony does not attempt to renegotiate a contract, it sends the message that Sony is a company that does not take sexual abuse claims seriously. Sony also risks boycotts of its music products and missed revenue opportunities from Kesha’s sales, because Sony cannot earn money from Kesha if new music is not released.
– Keila Mayberry