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Sony needs to face the music: Kesha is unable to leave her contract with an abusive producer

Sony needs to face the music: Kesha is unable to leave her contract with an abusive producer

[quote]By Ashvini Kartik-Narayan
Features Writer
Photo courtesy of the Mirror[/quote]

Back in March of 2015, Directioners everywhere mourned the departure of Zayn Malik from One Direction. Hearts were broken, tears were shed, but fans rallied around the singer with support and acceptance. Now, American singer Kesha struggles to be released from her own contract after her producer, Lukasz Gottwald (known as “Dr. Luke”), raped and emotionally abused her over a period of over a decade. The response? Radio silence.

Or at least, silence from Sony Music Entertainment, the company under which both One Direction’s Zayn Malik and Kesha were signed. Kesha’s legal battle began back in October 2014, and the trial and its proceedings went on for over a year before on Feb. 19 this year, the court ruled against Kesha’s plea.

The response from Kesha’s fans following the ruling was far from silent, spurring the hashtag #FREEKESHA and pushing influential female artists like Lorde and Adele to speak out against the injustice. The court’s ruling was based on the idea that it would not be profitable for Kesha to leave her producer, given the amount of money that is involved in her career. According to senior and Kesha fan Shehla Chowdhury, this means that Kesha is treated like a $60 million possession instead of a like survivor of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. “She is literally being viewed in the court as an investment,” senior and Kesha fan Shehla Chowdhury said.

Indeed, New York Supreme Court Justice Shirley Konreich, who presided over the case, claimed that it would be extreme to break a contract that was so heavily negotiated. “My instinct is to do the commercially reasonable thing,” Konreich told Kesha’s lawyer, Mark Geragos, according to a USA Today article published on Feb. 21. Kesha’s rights as a person were sacrificed for the sake of her monetary value.

“Despite not having any real reason to release Zayn, (Sony was) happy to let go of that ‘investment,’” Chowdhury added. The loss of Zayn probably made just as many national headlines, but legally, it is true that it was a lot simpler. The singer chose to leave One Direction because he wanted a normal life, out of the spotlight. He has since gone on to produce more of his own music under Sony’s label, but breaking ties with One Direction was a decision left to Malik’s interests alone.

One Direction’s contract included a “leaving member clause” that would allow the group to continue as four people, even when Malik left. Additionally, because Malik was signed both as an individual artist and a group member, his transition involved less of a legal struggle. Kesha’s contract, however, ties her to the same producer for six albums: as an artist and as a woman, she is seen as capital, and this makes it hard for her to leave.

The court’s verdict in Kesha’s case was based on what Konreich cited as a lack of evidence, such as hospital records and medical testimonies. Geragos maintains that Kesha’s silence was a result of threats by Gottwald to destroy her career and her family if she spoke out. Yet, while Malik’s creative freedom was respected, Kesha’s personal freedom was not.

“It’s a perfect example of the objectification of women, especially in the music industry,” Chowdhury said. The speculation and scrutiny that Kesha has faced under the laws that are supposed to protect her demonstrate how her value is seen in her monetary potential, not in her personal artistry. “Kesha is bound to her rapist by law now, purely because of her gender,” Chowdhury said.

While the United States has certainly been at the forefront of aiding victims of sexual, physical, and emotional abuse in recent years, there is still work to be done in how the entertainment industry values its artists, regardless of their gender. “I think it’s a great opportunity for women in the music industry to rally around the cause and to bring a lot of transparency to the issue,” Chowdhury said, in hopes that the future of women in the music industry will be a lot brighter.

As Lady Gaga tweeted in support of Kesha, “This is not over.” Kesha’s battle is far from won, but with the help of her supporters, she will be able to continue the fight.



*Disclaimer: This article is categorized as Opinions. The views of this article are that of the writer and do not represent the Stampede staff as a whole and should not be interpreted as a staff editorial. 

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  • D

    Dillion HomanMar 9, 2016 at 9:13 am

    This is ridiculous, the song Tic-Toc use to be my jam back in the day, And Zayn Malik was my man crush monday last week its a shame things like this are happening to such inspirational people in my life.

  • K

    Killian KennyMar 8, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    There is a lot of work to be done in this country in terms of rights for the people. After all, America’s history is marred with slavery, sexism, racism, and overall prejudice against certain types of people. The Kesha story is another example of this, where a female is not seen as a person; but as a toy, an object, a thing, and as a money making opportunity. But if people like us can rally behind Kesha, and people like her, we can slowly fade out the black marks on America, it’s laws, and the justice system as a whole.

    • M

      Molly L.Mar 14, 2016 at 4:16 pm

      “America’s history is marked with slavery, sexism, racism, and overall prejudice against certain types of people.” Seriously?! To begin with, there is no evidence shown that Dr. Luke did rape Kesha. As others have stated, many men get falsely accused of rape. In America, our judicial system is based on innocent until proven guilty, but whenever a rape accusation comes into place, the opposite tends to occur. With feminism on the rise, many women believe that as long as a woman says it’s rape, it’s rape. They need to accept the fact that that’s not always the case. Moreover, yes, America has had a past history of racist and sexist events, but keep in mind, although we are the best country, we are not a perfect country. No country is perfect. Every single nation on this planet has had a history of racism and sexism. Don’t believe me? Read a history textbook. Slavery, racism, prejudice, and sexism have been existing for thousands of years before America’s birth. The ancient Mesopotamians, Egyptains, Israelites, Greeks, Romans, Europeans, Africans, Chinese, Japanese, Persians, Mayans, Aztecs, Inca, Olmec, and even Native Americans all had slaves. Of course, we are only taught in school and by the liberal media that the only racists, sexists, and slave owners throughout history have been Europeans and Americans.Are slavery, racism, prejudice, and sexism good things? Of course not! Keep in mind that America has the second-best women’s rights in the world, one of the only countries to legalize gay marriage, and one of the most diverse and free nations. If anyone has a problem with America, they can leave. Next time anyone complains about America, they should keep in mind that many other nations around the world have fewer women’s rights, gay rights, rights for minorities, etc. Liberals should count their blessings of freedom our beautiful country offers instead of being disrespectful.

  • J

    Joel NanniMar 7, 2016 at 11:04 am

    This is udder nonsense it’s frustrating that when the word rape is used the justice system is automatically switch to guilty until proven innocent. She has no proof for anything Dr. Luke did. Many women will also make up stories about rape and make accusations to gain financially or socially.

    • V

      VEESHWEESHMar 8, 2016 at 8:39 am

      However in this case Kesha has nothing to gain financially or socially. She’s been barred from making music, she’s been out of the media for years, and she isn’t suing Dr. Luke. Kesha simply wants to get out of this contract, and just because she’s a monetary asset to SONY doesn’t mean she doesn’t have human rights. Her rights were violated. She’s been reduced to nothing but cash flow for SONY. While it is true that some women will make up rape accusations, MANY victims feel too threatened by their abuser and SOCIETY to take their case into public. And Kesha being a public figure feels an intense amount of pressure to stay silent. It is because of society’s thinking and treatment of women that forces victims to stay silent. Her abuser was in charge AND STILL IS IN CHARGE of her career and ultimately her life. She has a limited amount of freedom and taking this case into public has not been easy for her.

      • N

        Nikhila SampathMar 9, 2016 at 8:30 am

        I think we should appreciate Kesha for her courage to stand up against SONY and for not not succumbing to the threats issued against her.

  • P

    PerspectiveDiscussion(er)Mar 3, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    Take this from another perspective. It’s highly likely that she is lying because when she swore under her oath in her disposition, she stated that she had no sexual interactions with Dr. Luke. Furthermore, why would she want to bring this up now when she could have brought it up before in 2006, when it occurred? She has no proof for anything Dr. Luke did. Many women will also make up stories about rape and make accusations for support for a better position in the industry. Therefore, why do you believe that she is telling the truth and not lying? How do you know that she is not manipulating us to believe that something happened to her? Is it just because she wants out of the SONY contract?


    • N

      Nikhila SampathMar 5, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      Quite possible

  • N

    Nikhila SamapthMar 3, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Kesha should definitely continue fighting the case. This is a clear case of gender discrimination and a violation of human rights(treating her as an investment; not as a human with feelings and rights). Women are not objects. They are human beings with feelings and dreams.

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Sony needs to face the music: Kesha is unable to leave her contract with an abusive producer