After Lifetime’s Surviving R. Kelly series aired earlier this month, there’s a renewed pressure on R. Kelly’s label, RCA Records, which is owned by Sony Music, to drop him. It’s safe to assume that Kelly is not bringing in as much money as he once did for RCA; after allegations that Kelly was keeping women in a cult (which he has repeatedly denied) in 2017, tour dates were canceled due to lackluster ticket sales. So the question remains, why hasn’t RCA just dropped him?
TMZ reports, via sources, that RCA is not producing any of Kelly’s new music or putting money behind his projects. The label will also reportedly not release any additional music until criminal investigations have been resolved. That should be easy, considering Kelly hasn’t steadily released new music on the label in years, aside from a few self-released songs on social media, and his last official album release under his name alone was his 2016 Christmas album.
That should make it even easier to drop him! But TMZ reports:
On the other hand, the label has a deal with R. Kelly, and if they formally walk away from him now without any criminal charges to justify ending the contract ... they could be sued. We don’t know if there’s a “morals clause” in R. Kelly’s contract ... which would allow the label to give him the boot for crossing the line.
Morality clauses are reportedly growing more popular recently, as corporations figure out how to deal with firing alleged sexual predators in the future.
In a recent interview with Variety, attorney Leslie Frank, who represents artists like Dr. Dre and Skrillex, said RCA’s best course of action might be to let Kelly’s contract lapse to avoid him potentially suing for damages if he has yet to be convicted of a crime. But if that’s really their strategy, they will continue to look like enablers. RCA’s announcement that the label is rescinding financial backing and not releasing Kelly’s music is only the bare minimum they can do right now. Because as long as Kelly has the institutional backing of a music label, he will retain credibility from fans who refuse to believe his accusers.