Dr. Luke’s relationship with Sony Music is reportedly on its last legs.
Though Sony isn’t completely severing ties with the producer (despite reports stating otherwise), the company reportedly wants to remain at arm’s length with Luke, as his court battles with Kesha continue. The Hollywood Reporter framed the news as Sony “distancing itself” from Luke, while Variety reports that the deal is “winding down.”
A source told Variety, “Sony still has a relationship with Dr. Luke,” as far as production, but:
What is over, however, is Dr. Luke’s role as CEO of the label Kemosabe Records, the label he founded which came under the Sony umbrella in 2011 and expired at the end of March 2017.
THR notes that Kemosabe “didn’t have too many hits” on its own, but that the Sony partnership “gave Dr. Luke extraordinary creative control in return for exclusive rights to his services as a producer.”
Kesha filed her lawsuit against Luke in October 2014, accusing him of sexual abuse and coercion, among other allegations. In February of this year, a series of disturbing email exchanges were released that show Luke’s alleged controlling behavior. Fans have been campaigning for Kesha to be released from her contract with Luke since the court cases began.
While Sony’s decision to end its relationship with Luke will likely be a factor in future court proceedings, his fractured Sony partnership won’t necessarily work in Kesha’s favor (emphasis mine):
Although this may be seen in some respects as a victory for the “Free Kesha” movement, there are two potential problems for Kesha. First, in her own court papers, she previously cited reports that Sony’s deal with Dr. Luke was imminently about to end and warned the judge that she’d no longer have Sony as a go-between, making her situation worse. Second, Dr. Luke’s defamation claims against her are still pending, and in advance of the trial, his attorneys have been collecting evidence about how his career has suffered as a result of her rape allegations. Certainly, the culmination of Dr. Luke’s deal with Sony will be spotlighted as the case moves forward.
When it comes to Kesha’s autonomy, unfortunately, Sony has claimed to have its hands tied. In March 2016, during court dealings, the company publicly stated that they were “not in a position to terminate the contractual relationship between Luke and Kesha.” Around this time, a rumor surfaced that Sony was looking to drop Luke. A rep for Luke refuted the claim then, stating, “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.”