By Summer Whittaker
When a Manhattan Supreme Court judge denied pop star Kesha a court injunction last week to free her from her contract with Sony and Dr. Luke—the man she claims raped her—controversy flared, sparking arguments on both sides and the #FreeKesha movement. Artists like Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Fiona Apple, Lorde, Iggy Azalea, Miley Cyrus, and Kelly Clarkson have leveraged their social media in support of the singer, and Taylor Swift has even contributed $250,000 to help with her legal expenses.
The case started back in October of 2014 when the singer, whose real name is Kesha Rose Sebert, claimed that producer Luke Gottwald had sexually assaulted her. The suit was looking to void Kesha’s contract and business subsidiaries with Dr.Luke, which would free Sebert to work with other recording labels.
The partnership between the pop star and producer that has lasted over 10 years is now raising eyebrows when she also claimed 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.
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?
Emotionally, I side with Kesha, and I feel for her pain. I express my utter sympathy for the possibility of sexual misconduct, and I respect the music community for sticking up for her and exposing the trauma of sexual abuse. Yet with all that said, it is still a contractual situation that the courts ruled on. The judge’s hands were tied, and they went with the decision that sided with the law.
I believe what people should be advocating for isn’t necessarily to release Kesha, but instead to release Dr.Luke. The producer is on the cusp of an imminently expiring contract, and if Sony ends up not renewing his contract, Kesha will no longer have to work with him.
This case significantly reflects on the music industry that we are entering, especially for those of us who want to make it. If we think we can just sign a contract, make it big and have no consequences, we are wrong. That is not to say that abuse will happen after we sign a legal binding contract. This is to say you should be careful who you are doing business with. Research everything you possibly can as well as get a lawyer who is there to help protect you, especially if you are a female.
There are dozens of heartbreaking stories about women who are abused in the music industry. Sadly, the Kesha situation has been added to that list. I believe there is so much prejudice that exists within this industry that it is rarely ever questioned. So for us females entering this male-dominated industry, again I want to reiterate, be careful who you are doing business with.
Hopefully at the end of this, Kesha can overcome this hurdle in her career. For the rest of us at Berklee, hopefully it will raise an awareness of the potential dangers and complexities of this industry we are entering.