Features

An Idiot’s Guide to the Kesha Lawsuit

Words by: Michael Winsall


Recently, news broke that pop star Kesha (Kesha Rose Sebert) had lost a New York court case to have the contract between Sony Music and herself cancelled. But as always, there’s more to it. Lucky for you, we are here to help untangle the mess.

So who the hell is Dr Luke?

Lukasz Gottwald, AKA Dr. Luke, Is a music producer and former protégé to industry darling Max Martin. If you don’t know who Max Martin is, think of any Top 10 song from the last 20 years; chances are he wrote and produced it. Having trained under such an accomplished producer, Dr. Luke is trusted by RCA to handle their biggest stars and their up-and-comings through his label Kemosabe Records.

What is Kesha’s lawsuit about?

Kesha alleges that she was emotionally and sexually abused by Dr. Luke over the course of her career. In 2015 her lawyers included Sony Music as a defendant, claiming they either failed to investigate the allegations, or actively worked to conceal the wrongdoing.

Wait, why is the court case before the NY Supreme Court? Didn’t this all happen in LA?

It certainly did! However, Kesha’s contract has a stipulation that any disputes must be brought before the NY courts. This is generally believed to be because LA has a stricter labour laws, where as Corporate-driven NY is much more pro-contract. This is shown in the judge’s comment that “You’re asking the court to decimate a contract that was heavily negotiated and typical for the industry”.

Wow, that’s some shady shit. So is that it for Kesha?

No. Despite what most were reporting, This was actually just a preliminary injunction, that would allow Kesha to continue recording and releasing music so she may remain relevant in the music industry. Unfortunately, given the injunction failed, Kesha’s pop career is dead. However, powerful celebrities and friends have rallied behind her, such as Taylor Swift, who gifted Kesha $250,000 to aid in legal fees in her battle.

So you think Taylor Swift has power?

Laugh all you want, however Taylor held Apple by the throat over Apple music, and Apple stood down. She also brought the fight to Spotify just after her smash hit album “1989” was released, using her influence and financial stability to stand up for smaller artists. It would seem small upstart Spotify won’t take a leaf out of the book of the largest company in the world, but regardless there is quite clearly bad blood there. Hollywood and the Music industry has fostered and allowed to grow the celebrity cult of personality to such a size that we are at the cusp of celebrities wielding more influence than industry money could buy. The early signs are there: artists are starting their own independent film and music studios and streaming services (think of Jay Z’s TIDAL). These early start ups will be terrible, and they will probably fail. But eventually, something will stick, and entertainment will see the same disruption that every other industry has been feeling in the last 6 or so years.

So what are Kesha’s chances looking like for her case?

Rumour has it she has medical tests that show she was drugged and assaulted on multiple occasions that she was with Dr. Luke, and that she has texts and emails proving his emotional abuse, however I cannot substantiate these claims, so take them with a grain of salt. The defence meanwhile is presenting a hand written birthday card from Kesha to Luke from 2009 that allegedly proves their relationship is fine. So, either they are pulling the piss or they have nothing. Only time will tell and I can guarantee that regardless of who wins the loser will definitely appeal the decision and at that point it becomes a war of attrition.

So hopefully that clears everything up. It’s a messy situation, and one that can be hard to understand the intricacies of it all. One thing is for sure, the music industry needs to work harder to stamp out these sorts of behaviours that are becoming ever more public, otherwise their artists will stand up and walk off to start their own industry, and the corporate fatcats and abusive behaviours will not be invited.