×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Plane Flies Over Sony Music’s Offices Calling for Label to Drop R. Kelly

A plane towing a sign that read “RCA/Sony: Drop Sexual Predator R. Kelly” flew over Sony Music’s offices in Culver City, Calif., Friday afternoon. The plane, commissioned by the national women’s organization UltraViolet, was intended to further calls for RCA, which is owned by Sony Music and has been affiliated with Kelly for his entire solo career, to part ways with the singer in the wake of longstanding accusations of sexual misconduct against him, recently detailed in the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly.” In announcing the plane via a statement Thursday, UltraViolet proclaimed solidarity with the #MuteRKelly campaign.

“It is long past time for RCA to dump R Kelly and take a stand against abuse,”said Karin Roland, UltraViolet’s chief campaigns officer. Their inaction is beyond shameful. RCA can no longer pretend that R. Kelly’s music can be separated from his violent actions. Kelly uses his fame, musical talent, fortune, and standing in the music industry to lure in and abuse young Black girls. Even some of his songs are literally inspired by the abuses he has perpetrated. Kelly has been able to get away with his years of abuse precisely because his victims are young Black girls who face even more barriers to justice than their white peers. Sixty percent of Black women are sexually abused by age 18, but their abuse is written off because of harmful racial stereotypes that paint Black women and girls as more sexually promiscuous and aggressive than young white girls. We must believe and support Black survivors of sexual violence. It is time all of us work alongside the amazing Black women organizers calling out R. Kelly and his enablers to ensure justice.”

Roland also called out Spotify, which attempted unsuccessfully to ban Kelly’s music from its playlists last year. “When record labels like RCA Records and music platforms like Spotify promote abusers, they allow those abusers to reap in profits, lining their pockets with royalties and expanding their fan base. This normalizes violence against women. We are deeply disappointed that in light of the comprehensive allegations of sexual abuse made public by the “Surviving R. Kelly” documentary, that RCA Records and Spotify continue to choose abusers over the survivors of their crimes.”

Sony’s New York offices were the site of protests from Kesha fans in 2016, calling on the label to free her from her contract with the Sony affiliate Kemosabe, run by songwriter/producer Dr. Luke. Kesha has been embroiled in a legal dispute with Luke, alleging that he sexually assaulted her while she was signed to his label; she remains with the label but is not working with Luke.

And in 2002, Michael Jackson led protests in New York and London against the company — to which he was signed at the time — calling its business practices “racist.” While Jackson led the protest from the top of a double-decker bus, fans gathered outside Sony’s New York headquarters. However, some commented at the time that Jackson’s protest may have been more closely related to what he felt was the label’s failure to promote his 2001 album “Invincible” at the level he’d expected.

Other labels have also weathered criticism and protests over the years for all manner of reasons. In 2010, several hundred Lupe Fiasco fans gathered outside of Atlantic Records’ New York office to demand the release of the rapper’s album, “Lasers.” It prompted then Warner Music chief Lyor Cohen to emerge with the rapper and a boom box and play the new music. Further back in 1992, the release of Body Count’s “Cop Killer” brought Time Warner under fire as law enforcement agencies objected to the song’s release.

In “Surviving R. Kelly,” Oronike Odeleye, co-founder of the #MuteRKelly campaign, details how recent protests in seven cities have led to concert cancelations.

Variety recently spoke with a prominent entertainment attorney and several insiders about the process RCA would undergo in parting ways with the singer. A rep for RCA did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment.

More Biz

  • Homecoming

    Peak Storytelling Here as Podcasts, Short Form Ride New Wave

    The concept of peak TV is nothing new. But scratch the surface of original content these days, and it’s no longer about television — from podcasts and short-form video, storytelling itself is at a peak. Thanks to audio, video and other new platform companies including Gimlet, Quibi, Wondery, iHeartMedia and Serial Box, listeners and viewers [...]

  • Patti Smith Cambridge Folk Festival

    Patti Smith Muses Over the Many Ways to Tell a Story

    It’s Sept. 11, and Patti Smith has been thinking a lot about people who died. This is understandable. It is, of course, the 18th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and an annual time of mourning for New York City, the city that Smith adopted as her hometown 50-plus years [...]

  • Hopper Reserve

    Dennis Hopper's Dying Wish: His Own Strain of Marijuana

    Even as celebrity brands are starting to flood the emerging Cannabis market, Hopper Reserve stands out. The brand was launched by Marin Hopper, Dennis Hopper’s daughter from his marriage to Brooke Hayward. Hopper Reserve is a gram of California indoor-grown flower, two packs of rolling papers, a pair of matches and a trading card either [...]

  • Snoop Dogg Weed

    In the Cannabis Business, Not All Star Strains Are Created Equal

    With the cannabis green rush in full swing, many celebrities are jumping into the fray with their own brands, including such well-known stoners as Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg and Tommy Chong. But as it turns out, not all star strains are created equal, so we assembled a trio of crack experts to put the product [...]

  • Richard Branson Jason Felts

    Kaaboo Festival Acquired by Virgin Fest Owner Jason Felts

    Kaaboo, which says it has “shifted the music festival paradigm by offering a highly amenitized festival experience for adults,” is now under new ownership. Virgin Fest founder and CEO Jason Felts (pictured above with Virgin founder Richard Branson) has fully acquired all of the festival brand assets through an affiliate of Virgin Fest, the music [...]

  • Live Nation Chief Michael Rapino Talks

    Live Nation-Ticketmaster Chief Michael Rapino Talks Dept. of Justice Inquiries

    Back in August, Senators Richard Blumenthal of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota made the most recent of several requests for an Department of Justice antitrust investigation into competition in the ticketing industry, and it soon became clear that the target of the probe was Live Nation and its 2010 merger with Ticketmaster, which [...]

  • Lowell Smokes Cafe Marijuana

    With Cannabis Lounges, On-Site Consumption, Marijuana-Infused Meals Go Legit

    Can this century’s Roaring ’20s repeat history but with pre-rolled joints instead of whiskey flasks and soccer moms as the new flappers? This month, West Hollywood will see the opening of the nation’s first at least quasi-legal cannabis consumption lounge, officially dubbed Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Café, located at 1211 N. La Brea between Fountain [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content