R Kelly’s conviction: will it be the #MeToo moment for music?
“It’s too late,” Robert Kelly was wearing sunglasses inside, and smoke was billowing from the cigar he held in his left hand, toasting with his friends. “They should have done this shit 30 years ago.”
In May 2018, an R&B artist known as R Kelly fought the procedure since the 1990s. But he was then put on new watch. for permission to eat and use the bathroom.
Kelly pushes back allegations of swirling liquor in a plastic glass as he boasted, “Music has already been injected into the world.”
Three years later, the 54-year-old could be sentenced to life imprisonment. Over the past few weeks, 45 witnesses have spoken annoyingly in Brooklyn courts about Kelly’s physical, mental and sexual abuse. Today, one of the best-selling recording artists in recent history is finally suffering the consequences. On Monday, a jury was found guilty of all sex trafficking and extortion, including the sexual exploitation of children by Kelly.
It’s no wonder Kelly once felt invincible. It endured decades of complaints and litigation, but as its star rose, executives and music staff disagreed, each systematically delaying or resolving. low. Kelly’s timeless hits, such as “I Believe I Can Fly,” dominated elementary school graduation, even though a black woman sued him for abusing them as a teenager.
“Nothing beats the omnipotent dollar in the music industry,” said Jim DeRogatis, a Chicago journalist and music critic who has reported on R. Kelly’s violations for more than 20 years. “Much more than in movies, politics or other areas of #MeToo, there’s this image of a ‘bad boy’ hip-hop and rock’n’roll star.”
Kelly’s resurrection, considered the most notable criminal conviction in modern music history, sheds a nasty light on the industry’s practices of making these “bad boys” property.
The artist has sold over 40 million albums throughout his career. This year, his previous label, RCA, collected nearly $ 2 million in royalties, although audiences declined due to his public disgrace. Billboard estimated in August.
In 2017, the #MeToo Press movement swept through the film and television industry exposing the abuses of Harvey Weinstein and others, defeating dozens of powerful business and political giants. But with few exceptions, the music industry hasn’t experienced the same computer moments felt elsewhere in Hollywood and American businesses.
Many popular musicians, including David Bowie, Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson, have been accused of sexual misconduct for many years. A funny story with many rock stars attacking teenage fans in the starry sky.
But according to Kelly’s belief, music now has its Weinstein. The act is so widespread, vicious and peculiar that it cannot be ignored. But will the industry change this time?
When the music stops
In some ways, Kelly has already been muted in recent years. It was virtually pulled from radio and dropped on the Sony and Universal labels. According to Chartmetric data, Kelly’s monthly listeners on Spotify have halved, from over 8.3 million in 2018 to 4.9 million this week. But that number still equates it with acts like Stevie Nicks and The XX.
According to people approached by the singer, Kelly recently called on investors to buy his shares in his songbook as he faced a financial crisis. However, the catalog of monster hits is now a clearance sale. Even Merck Mercuriadis has devoured hundreds of catalogs at a spectacular price in recent years, he says he is “not interested”.
Barry Masarski, who values musical assets, said he “didn’t touch” the task of evaluating Kelly’s catalog. “Buyers will be really cranky. Until now, they didn’t have to face the reputational risk, ”he said. “It’s about predicting future cash flow, and how do you do that here? “
The industry is now avoiding it, but music executives have known about the charges against Kelly for decades.
Topping the list is Clive Calder, who made billions of dollars signing teenage stars Nsync and Britney Spears in addition to R Kelly, turning his Jive Records company into a pop powerhouse in the 1990s. I did. Calder told the Washington Post in 2018 that he “clearly missed something”, but added that he was “not a psychiatrist”.
After Kelly’s arrest for child pornography in 2003, Jive CEO Barry Weiss told the New York Times from 1991 to 2011: R Kelly must be R Kelly. ”
Weiss told FT when he made the comment: “I had no idea of the extent of the action that was unfolding to blame.”
According to Weiss, contracts generally prevent record companies from dropping artists unless they are convicted of a crime. “When you sign them, you are trapped in a contract,” he said. “”[The artist] I am not an employee. They don’t work for you. It is a job for hire. “
Even today, there is little indication that Wyeth or Calder’s career has been influenced by his relationship with Kelly. Last year, the Rolling Stone Bible Industry introduced Weiss. for $ 2.7 billion.
I couldn’t ask Calder to comment.
“The executives are paralyzed. They’re putting their heads in the sand, ”said Drew Dixon, a former A&R executive who raped music mogul Russell Simmons. “The idea that this dysfunctional culture is necessary to create the magic of hit records is a crackdown.”
Dixon, in his early 20s, got a dream job. A Def Jam Recordings scout talent who has worked with artists such as Notorious BIG, she left the company after Simmons claimed she was raped. She will eventually quit the industry altogether. Simmons has denied Dixon’s claims, saying all of his relationships have come to an agreement.
Kelly will be in prison for at least 10 years. Yet her music is still alive, and record companies and streaming services are signaling who should be responsible for the decision to take her song offline.
Sony’s RCA and Universal Music each own Kelly’s copyrighted tracks. Neither company has advertised its work and neither has removed Kelly from the list. But they keep his music online.
Anonymous executives of major record labels have defended Kelly’s choice not to release music to the world, saying removing her would punish the co-authors of her songs, who still make money from it. low. Another executive said the streaming service needs to call about the content it hosts.
Spotify in 2018 temporarily removed Kelly’s music from a powerful playlist, but rescinded the policy weeks later, stating that it “was not intended to play a judge or jury” at the time. to augment.
Sony, Universal Music and Amazon declined to comment on the story, but Spotify and YouTube did not respond to requests for comment.
Dixon said he was disappointed with the relative silence of great musicians and music leaders this week. “R Kelly is a sacrificial lamb,” Dixon said. “They decide: we cut out this prop and keep it moving. “
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