Following a series of scandals, sexual assault allegations, and criminal charges over the past two decades — Sony Music and singer-songwriter R. Kelly have parted ways, as confirmed by TMZ.
The decision comes in the wake of a high amount of negative press coverage of Kelly. Following the release of Lifetime series Surviving R. Kelly, which released earlier this month, the “Trapped In The Closet” star has been trying to keep his career intact as his fans, detractors, and the music industry begin to boycott him.
While Sony Music’s move to part ways with R. Kelly won’t come as a surprise to some, it does mark the end of a partnership that dates back over 25 years. R. Kelly’s debut album, 12 Play, was released under record label Jive Records within the RCA Music Group. For those who don’t know, the RCA Music Group consisted of a handful of record labels, all of which were owned and distributed by Sony Music Entertainment.
That being said, while R. Kelly may be without a record label, that doesn’t necessarily mean that his music will be wiped off the face of the earth.
So, what does the R. Kelly and Sony split mean for music fans? Let’s cover a few bases.
For the time being, it seems like any future releases from R. Kelly will be put on hold. As detailed by TMZ, it’s been reported that the “Pied Piper” had been working on two new albums, in order to fulfill contractual obligations with RCA. That being said, RCA might not be getting off scot-free. While it’s impossible to speculate on the details of R. Kelly’s contract — specifically, whether it contains a “morals clause” — RCA could land in legal trouble if they completely abandon Kelly, and the work he has been recording.
At the time of this writing, R. Kelly’s music is still available on streaming services including YouTube, Apple Music, and Spotify. That being said, a handful of R. Kelly collaborations have been scrubbed from the internet. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Chance the Rapper, Lady Gaga, and Celine Dion have all opted to remove their collaborations with R. Kelly from the aforementioned streaming services.
As reported by Variety, Karin Roland, the chief campaigns officer for UltraViolet, previously called out Spotify and RCA Records for supporting abusers over victims.
“When record labels like RCA Records and music platforms like Spotify promote abusers, they allow those abusers to reap in profits, lining their pockets with royalties and expanding their fan base. This normalizes violence against women. We are deeply disappointed that in light of the comprehensive allegations of sexual abuse made public by the ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ documentary, that RCA Records and Spotify continue to choose abusers over the survivors of their crimes,” Roland explained.
For those unfamiliar, UltraViolet is a women’s advocacy group, one which participated in protests against R. Kelly. As reported by Complex, the group commissioned a plane to display a banner over Sony Music headquarters, one which read, “RCA/SONY: DROP SEXUAL PREDATOR R KELLY.”