Sony to Cut Ties With Dr. Luke Amid Pressure Over Kesha Lawsuit: Report
UPDATE: Entertainment Weekly reports that an attorney for Lukasz Gottwald (aka Dr. Luke) has refuted The Wrap’s report that Sony is close to cutting ties with Gottwald. In a statement provided to EW, the attorney said “[Gottwald’s] representatives are in regular contact with executives at the highest levels at Sony and this has never come up.”
Amid a storm of negative publicity, it appears that Sony is ready to cut ties with Dr. Luke, the producer whom pop star Kesha had accused of sexual and emotional abuse.
According to The Wrap, which cited anonymous “knowledgeable individuals,” Sony Music Entertainment, Sony’s (SNE) U.S. music arm, is planning to part ways with Dr. Luke (whose real name is Lukasz Gottwald). Gottwald’s label, Kemosabe Records, is housed within Sony Music, and had a reported $60 million deal with Sony, which wasn’t set to expire until early 2017. Sony may have to negotiate an end to the contract rather than face accusations of breaching the pact, The Wrap notes.
Fortune reached out to Gottwald’s lawyer, Christine Lepera, for comment and will update this article with any response. A Sony spokeswoman declined to comment.
Kesha sued Gottwald and Kemosabe (and, later, Sony), claiming her former producer and mentor “sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally abused” her over the course of several years. Gottwald consistently has denied all of the charges. That lawsuit is still pending, though a New York Supreme Court judge last month denied the singer’s request to leave her current contract with Kemosabe and Sony immediately. Both Sony and Gottwald’s attorney have maintained their claim that the singer is free to record and release music under her current six-album contract without being required to work directly with Gottwald, but Kesha has still pushed to have her contract nullified entirely.
(Fortune wrote an in-depth look at how the legal battle has played out, so far, last month.)
While legal battle played out in the courts, a war of words played out in the press and online, with public sentiment seemingly tilted in Kesha’s favor. Musicians and other celebrities took to Twitter (TWTR) to publicly support Kesha and, in some cases, speak out against Gottwald. Taylor Swift pledged to donate $250,000 to help Kesha “with any of her financial needs during this trying time.”
Gottwald, meanwhile, went on a tweetstorm last month, in which he complained about how the “speculation” over the case has interfered with his career and damaged his public image.
Singer Kelly Clarkson said this week that Gottwald is “not a good guy” and claimed she had been “blackmailed” into working with him in the past.
On Wednesday, Lady Gaga tweeted in response to The Wrap’s report on Sony’s plans to cut ties with Gottwald. In the post, she seemed to tell the company to “do the right thing.”