Some of us have not kept up with the “life styles of the rich and famous” but for those of us who have, you must be aware about a huge controversial topic taking over the music industry. Last week in New York, a judge denied Kesha Rose Sebert a court injunction that would have allowed her to leave her heavily negotiated contract with Sony Music. Included in that contract, Sebert would no longer have to create music with her producer Lukasz Sebastian Gottwald also known as “Dr. Luke”.
The case started back in October of 2014 when Kesha claimed Dr.Luke had sexually assaulted her. The suit is looking to void Kesha’s contract and business subsidiaries with Dr. Luke. This would allow Sebert to work with other recording labels. A partnership that has lasted over 10 years is now raising eyebrows when she also claimed complaint for damages including gender violence, civil harassment, violation of California unfair business laws and emotional distress. In her statement Kesha claimed that Dr. Luke also abused his wealth and power in order to destroy her confidence and self-image.
“I know I cannot work with Dr. Luke. I physically cannot. I don’t feel safe in any way” – Kesha
Originally born in Los Angeles, California, Kesha and her mother struggled to get her career on track. Early in her life they moved out to Nashville, Tennessee, to secure a new publishing deal and hopefully put food on the table. At the age of 18 years old, Ms. Serbert was persuaded by Mr. Gottwald to leave everything behind to start a brand new life in Los Angeles and to pursue a lavish life style as a famous singer in the music industry. Her fame began when she was unaccredited on Flo Rida’s song “Right Round” back in 2009. It was the first song that Dr. Luke produced without his mentor Max Martin, who Dr. Luke had been previously working along side with. The song was an international success and made No.1 in most sales in a single week. Unfortunately the ugly beast that is the industry, didn’t pay her a penny even after its huge debut.
“Don’t stop, make it pop but the party don’t stop no” – Kesha.
The party got started when Serberts’ career took off with the release of her first solo single “Tik Tok” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for nine consecutive weeks and sold over 610,000 copies. Her break through album Animal was released shortly after and went certified platinum in the fall of that same year. Currently the song has sold over 15 million copies, which is the third best selling digital record. This spawned a re-release called Cannibal. “We R Who We R”, a song about common social issues having to do with bullying. “Your Love Is My Drug” was also a hit Billboard Hot 100 the end of that same year.
Kesha’s winning streak didn’t stop there. In February of 2011, Kesha went out on her first international world tour Get Sleazy. In the United States her tour sold out instantly. She not only performed in the United States but also in Europe, Australia, and South America.
Warrior, Kesha’s second album, came out in 2012. The lead single, “Die Young,” hit Number two on Billboard Top 100. In 2013, Pitbull’s chart-topping single “Timber” was released featuring Kesha. Now her career is languished and could be over in a blink of an eye. Most of the time a top charter would solidify an artist’s career but as her resources are cut off she will be stuck in music purgatory until she can find a way out of her contract.
Dr. Luke’s Story:
Born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island, Mr. Gottwald was a performer as well before he went into producing. Originally he wanted to be a drummer but his parents refused to allow a drum kit in the house. He then decided to pick up the guitar and teach himself. With no background in theory or harmony he was forced to listen to a song over and over until he could figure out exactly what the guitarist was doing.
Later in his life, he attended the Manhattan School of Music and then was in the Saturday Night Live Band as the guitarist back in 1997. Seven years later and known as Dr. Luke, he started and owned two publishing companies, Kasz Money Publishing and Prescription Songs. He started co-writing and co-producing Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” with Max Martin. He went on to produce other huge top charters including “Girlfriend “by Avril Lavigne, “Who Knew” by Pink and Katy Perry’s “One of the Boys”
Dr. Luke is known for being highly successful in the music industry. He was nominated for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical in both 2011 and 2014. Along with that, he was nominated for Album of the Year (Teenage Dream) in 2011 and Song of the Year (“Roar”) in 2014. He ended up winning Songwriter of the Year in 2010 and 2011 for the ASCAP Pop Music Awards.
What Does This Mean?
This is not the first time that Dr. Luke and Kesha had been in legal trouble with each other. Back in 2011, Kesha was confronted about an alleged “intimate relationship” which she denied happening. Under oath Kesha denied that Dr.Luke had ever given her date rape drugs, but she also said that she didn’t remember if he had.
What people should be advocating for isn’t to release Kesha, but instead, to release Dr. Luke, whose contract is about to expire with Sony. There is a possibility that Sony doesn’t want to cut her loose because Dr. Luke’s contract is about to expire which Sony might not renew. Sony made it possible for Kesha to record without any involvement or connection with Dr. Luke. Kesha then refused to work with another producer. Sony is not in a position where they can terminate the contractual relationship between them and she fears that Sony Music would no longer promote her work. If Dr. Luke is not renewed for another 5 years, Kesha will no longer have to work with him. Sony won’t hold back from promoting her music because Dr. Luke would no longer be with Sony and therefore, wouldn’t have a conflict of interest.
“There has been no showing of irreparable harm. She’s being given opportunity to record.” – Shirley Kornreich, Supreme Court Justice
Kesha’s lawyer claims that she was under threat by Dr. Luke to lie about these allegations. Luke’s attorney Christine Lepara, hinted that statements contained in the unsealed case would provide evidence that Kesha was possibly trying to get out of her contract by lying. Her contract was heavily negotiated in 2005 and like most artists they all have to fulfill them. As much as it is heartbreaking that she was not released from her contract, legally that’s what was ruled.
In the eyes of the public, it remains clear that Kesha wasn’t lying about the allegations against Dr. Luke. Several other celebrities have had uncomfortable encounters with the producer as well. In 2014 after her hit single “Wrecking Ball” was released, Miley Cyrus stated that she would no longer be working with Dr. Luke as well. Cyrus has confirmed that she will be going in a direction musically different to her latest album Bangers that will not require the involvement of Dr. Luke. Who is to say that this was an artistic choice to switch or if it had to do with the Kesha Lawsuit?
Millions of fans and some celebrities are becoming a part of the #FreeKesha boycott. Singer Taylor Swift has donated $250,000 to Kesha’s legal funds in an attempt to help buy Kesha out of her contact. This contract includes her having to produce up to six albums at the discretion of Dr. Luke. A contract like this, is a model deal in the recording music business. Many other celebrities including Demi Lovato, Arianna Grande, and Lady Gaga have taken to twitter to show their support. Hopefully Kesha can over come this inevitable halt in her career.