Sony Music Entertainment is reportedly ending its contract with superproducer Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald a year before it was set to expire. According to TheWrap, the decision is a consequence of Dr. Luke's prolonged and complicated legal dispute with Kesha, the artist who's currently fighting to liberate herself from her contract with both Dr. Luke and Sony. Kesha has also alleged emotional and sexual abuse at Dr. Luke's hands over the course of their lengthy working relationship. Representatives for Sony Music declined to comment on the status of Dr. Luke's contract.
Kesha and Dr. Luke have been embroiled in a legal battle since October 2014, when Kesha first sought to extricate herself from her contract with the producer. She added Sony Music as a defendant in June of last year and filed an injunction that would allow her to write and record music without Dr. Luke's involvement, but the injunction was rejected in New York state Supreme Court in February. Its rejection prompted an outpouring of public support for Kesha from fans and fellow artists — like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Adele — alike, support that revolved around the use of the hashtag #FreeKesha. Kesha herself thanked her fans and wrote about her ordeal on Facebook and Instagram; Dr. Luke defended his innocence on Twitter.
The label would have to reach a mutual resolution
If Sony Music really is working to dissolve its contract with Dr. Luke, it likely has less to do with the legal particulars of Kesha's case than the impact on the label's business from a public relations perspective. "Kesha has no case in regards to her contract, but [Sony Music] can't afford the Adeles of the world out in the streets calling the label unsupportive," a source told TheWrap. Because Sony Music doesn't have the legal justification to end its contract with Dr. Luke in a one-sided fashion, the label will have to work towards a mutual resolution. It's also unclear what would happen to the artists signed to Dr. Luke's Kemosabe Records imprint, several of whom are on track to release new music this year.
Update March 9th 5:30PM ET: An attorney for Dr. Luke has denied that Sony Music is dropping the producer in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. "This is not true," wrote the attorney. "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."