The Wrap: Sony is looking to dump Dr. Luke & his Kemosabe Records label

A lot of people have been blaming Sony for the ongoing Dr. Luke-Kesha problem. For what it’s worth, Sony doesn’t want any part of it. I’m not entirely clear on the specific legal situation, but it seems that Sony hosts Dr. Luke’s label Kemosabe Records, and Dr. Luke rents himself out as a producer to Sony-signed artists, or artists signed at other labels. Kesha is not signed with Sony, she’s signed with Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe Records, so even if Sony wanted to let her out of her contract, I’m not entirely sure Sony would have any legal standing to do so. But this whole situation has left Sony with a PR nightmare on their hands, and shockingly, they are not dumping the blame on Kesha. Sony is tired of Dr. Luke, and The Wrap says Sony is looking to cut their ties with him.

Sony Music is expected to end its working relationship with controversial producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald a year ahead of his contract’s expiration, knowledgeable individuals have told TheWrap. The output deal has become a public relations headache for the company since pop star Kesha’s sexual abuse allegations against Gottwald have resulted in a nasty court battle — and a groundswell of support for the singer from influential fellow artists like Adele, Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson.

Kesha, signed to Gottwald’s Kemosabe Records imprint at Sony, filed suit in 2014 against both the producer and Sony to exit her own deal. The New York State Supreme Court has thus far sided with Sony given a lack of evidence to support the abuse claims, but the public relations nightmare has internally been deemed not worth the hassle, the insiders said.

“There is no contest. Kesha has no case in regards to her contract but they can’t afford the Adeles of the world out in the streets calling the label unsupportive,” one individual familiar with upper management’s thinking told TheWrap. “The fact that this hasn’t already been taken care of with Luke is confusing, especially for people in the building.”

Gottwald, who has vehemently denied the claims, signed a five-year agreement in late 2011 that comes up in early 2017, two individuals familiar his contract said. It’s currently unknown how Sony intends to free itself from the relationship, a decision that would fall on CEO Doug Morris and his boss, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. Any unilateral dissolution of the contract would be a direct breach, so a negotiated exit would be most likely to save face on both sides.

“Somebody has been convicted via Twitter,” a second individual close to the decision said of Luke and the outcry over unsubstantiated accusations. “No court has convicted this person, so there may not be any legal basis to terminate an agreement. It would have to be mutual.”

[From The Wrap]

You can read more here at The Wrap. Dr. Luke has already run to various media outlets to say that The Wrap’s story is crap. His lawyer says: “This is not true. 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.” But Sony hasn’t confirmed or denied the Wrap’s story, and honestly, it seems like something the Sony PR people would slide over to an outlet like the Wrap. Even if Sony doesn’t drop the hammer on Dr. Luke, once his existing contract is done, that’s it for him. Hopefully.

Photos courtesy of Getty.

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40 Responses to “The Wrap: Sony is looking to dump Dr. Luke & his Kemosabe Records label”

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  1. Sam says:

    It’s a done deal. I think Sony leaked it to an entertainment site just to see the reaction what others would think before they officially drop him. He’s bad press and regardless of how much money he brings in for them when you have several big name artists calling him out, talking about their experience with him and saying that they’d never work with him you have to cut him loose.

    • Naya says:

      Yes, aslthough Wrap is more trade news than entertainment. If E! was reporting this, we would have room to question it. If its coming from Wrap then its certainly from very senior Sony management, Luke is finished.

  2. Alex says:

    Not surprising. Between the Sony hack and this debacle it seems like Sony hates women!! SHOCKER
    When you have trending topics like “Sony supports rapists” you mayyyy want to stop helping out. Not that this will do much now they’ve spent years helping Dr. Luke at this point

    • Pix says:

      I totally agree that it seems as if Sony does not value women. It would not shock me if they issued a statement is support of this creep. Or if they do get rid of him, they’ll hire him back in a few years when the drama dies down. Sony is disgusting.

      • Alex says:

        They’ve been supporting him in court hence the backlash. The only reason they said anything is because like I said they have been raked over the coals

  3. Lucy2 says:

    I hope they do cut ties with him. It’s just sad that it took all this bad PR, rather than one of the artists saying hey that producer who works under your umbrella drugged, raped, and abused me for many years, to get them to finally do something about him.

  4. Birdie says:

    I am pretty shocked what women in this biz have to endure behind the scenes, even the famous ones. I knew that it was very hard for upcoming females, but it was sort of a myth to me that they had to f*** for songs. Now I believe it more, there must be more Dr Lukes out there.

    • PoliteTeaSipper says:

      I couldn’t really enjoy Kpop after hearing what the female artists have to do (get pimped out to whoever has the money to pay).

      • SnarkySnarkers says:

        Me too! I used to love Kpop! Its so fun to listen to even if I have no idea what they are saying. I read too many articles that just made me feel so sorry for the girls though and I can’t anymore.

  5. NewWester says:

    Sounds like Sony has given Dr Luke and his lawyer a buyout offer. Dr Luke is balking at signing and Sony is showing it is preparing to play hardball( leaking information to media sites)
    He will be gone before the end of the month. Both Sony and Dr Luke do not want all their dirty laundry aired in a nasty court battle

    • Betti says:

      By all accounts Dr Luke is an arrogant POS who thinks he’s bigger than Sony – good for Sony for correcting that mistake.

  6. lower-case deb says:

    i’m sure they’ll negotiate something on the side for him to lay low for a while and then craft a comeback for him down the line. most of the general public has short memory anyway.

    also, i wonder if it’s a Dr Lucy instead of Dr Luke, whether this hypothetical female would still have a career in showbiz at all by this time.

    • Lisa says:

      yeah he will probably get millions for being let out of his contract sooner. Look at how much money Charlie Sheen made off that show he did with the kid.

  7. Miss M says:

    It’s about time, Sony!

  8. Jayna says:

    Sony definitely could have put massive pressure on the situation, though, and it would have been taken care of as far as letting Kesha out of her contract. I can’t believe they let it get this far out of control.

  9. Tulip says:

    I don’t want to take anything for granted. I’m going to spend what little free time I have today -on ALL of my social media apps -doing what I can to get that nasty piece of trash OFFICIALLY dropped from Sony.

  10. Leah says:

    Actually Sony is knee-deep in this mess. His record company Kemosabe exists so that Dr Luke would have his label on sony.His 5 year deal was that he would exclusively produce for Sony. They have given him a lot of money and power in order to tie him exclusively to Sony.
    I think ( Sonys biggest selling artist) Adele coming out in support was massive. At the end of the day keeping people like Adele happy is more valuable to Sony than standing behind Dr Luke. But make no mistake they aren’t doing it because they have a conscience about Kesha. If it was about Kesha they would have done something much sooner.

    • Esmom says:

      “But make no mistake they aren’t doing it because they have a conscience about Kesha.”

      Yeah, that seems clear. So depressing.

    • Snazzy says:

      Yes, I agree. I think Adele’s public display of support was a deal breaker. Makes me love her more. And hate Sony more – because as you rightly said, they don’t give a crap about Keisha (or any artists suffering this kind of abuse under someone like Luke) at all

  11. Betti says:

    I hope this is true. Plus after the hack the last thing Sony needs is more negative press.

  12. Farah says:

    This won’t help Kesha. I’m sure Dr. Luke will just get angrier. Kesha isn’t just signed to Dr. Luke’s record company, but also his publishing company. That’s why she’s broke. He refuses to pay her royalty. He also fudges songwriting credits. If Kesha writes a song like Pitbull’s Timber. He’ll add 500 songwriters to diminish her fee. She wrote the chorus of that song. The song is listed as having 16 (!!!!!) songwriters. According to her publishing contract, she can’t even write for others or perform on TV without Dr. Luke permission.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      That is so f*cked. I don’t understand why artists sign these contracts though. Bad representation? None at all? Yes, sure, in the beginning ANY record or publishing deal might look too good to be true (and apparently it is) so they feel like they have no choice. Sign it or keep writing in your bedroom. But he made her completely dependent on him, that’s not a working relationship, that’s bullsh*t.

      • Farah says:

        He signed her when she was 18 years old. Convinced her to drop out of high school and move to L.A. Basically ignored her for a few years. She tries to break out of her contract in 2008. He has her record vocals for Flo Rid’s Right Round. She’s uncredited even though she sang the whole chorus. They even have a model in the video lip syncing her part!

  13. Toot says:

    Even if Sony drops Luke I don’t see him releasing Kesha from her contract with him. So no matter what Kesha is tied to him, unless she can but out her contract.

  14. Sar says:


  15. Breakfast Margaritas says:

    So then Kesha will be totally under Dr. Luke’s thumb if Sony is no longer involved??? I don’t see this as a safe resolution for her.

  16. K says:

    Maybe she is making false accusations.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      And her reason would be? As far as I can see, there is no advantage to what she’s going through.

    • anon33 says:

      aaaand there it is. Because men never rape women, we ALWAYS lie about it…

      • K says:

        I’m not a man. I was also not implying women “always” lie about sexual assault. There are many instances where women’s lives are ruined because of sexual assault. There are also instances where men’s lives and reputations are tarnished because a woman lies. All I said was maybe her accusations are false. But hevaen forbid in this day and age anyone can offer an unpopular opinion in hopes of an intelligent debate without sarcastic rebuttle.

    • Veronica says:

      What does she have to gain from that, though? He had the power in this situation, not her, and even in clearer cut cases with more evidences, rapists rarely see jail time. She’s also accused him in the past of making abusive comments about her body and voice – which, frankly, doesn’t seem especially suspect considering she wound up doing a rehab stint for an ED not too long ago. Even before this went to court, she would have had lawyers hitting her left and right warning her about the ramifications of taking this public. As far as we’ve seen, all this has done is more or less destroy her career and ruin her financially.

    • SKF says:

      Le sigh. Of REPORTED rapes only a tiny fraction are fraudulent accusations. Many are not investigated due to lack of evidence; but that is not the same thing as a false accusation – something the police are very clear about. In the UK it is something like 1.99% that are deemed false accusations and many of those false reports are young and seemingly victims of a sexual or violent crime but misreporting someone else. The myth of masses of false accusations is exactly that, a myth. At least 75% of rapes are not even reported so the stats of false accusations shrink even more. What do people think the incentive is exactly? Most women who report are slut shamed and called liars – often even by people in their own families and friendship circles. Rape is a shockingly under reported, under-investigated, under-charged, under-convicted, and under-sentenced crime. Police often actively discourage victims from following through. The likelihood of rape accusations being false is low indeed.

  17. kri says:

    My god, the entertainment industry is sh!t for women. As others have pointed out even if Sony dumps this pig, it’s not out of concern for Kesha. But I am encouraged by the women who stepped out and up for her. As soon as the big names made statements, things started to happen. This is how we can use our power to help each other. Speak up-for yourself and other women. Hit them in their pocketbooks and they will notice.

  18. Colette says:

    The Wrap is not reliable.I would be more inclined to believe Billboard.We will see.

  19. QQ says:

    There is a LOT of info and Tea in this thread, i’m not being snarky at all

  20. Bridget says:

    The idea of him being bought out pisses me off though. I’d almost rather Sony just shelve him and then non-renew.

  21. Saks says:

    The only way SONY would save some face would be if they buy Kesha’s contract from Luke. As of now, they are just still greedy b*stards.

  22. pinetree13 says:

    This man is as slimy as they come. Ew.

  23. kori says:

    if Sony really wants to make a statement they should make Kesha’s release part of the deal.

    • Lex says:

      “We will keep your contract in tact/renew yours but only if you release her from hers”. If only!!

      Solely releasing HIM is absolutely not the point of anything – that’s just Sony wanting to be distanced from him. It makes Kesha’s situation far worse as she has no big record company’s reputation behind her to threaten