Wow. It finally happened.
According to Billboard, sources are confirming that Sony and R. Kelly have agreed to part ways.
The R&B singer’s relationship with the record label was quite familiar. In the early 1990s, Kelly initially signed to Jive, which eventually became a part of Sony BMG. In 2012, he signed a contract with Sony subsidiary RCA.
This news comes just a few days after several organizations called for RCA to finally take a major stand, following Surviving R. Kelly’s debut on Lifetime. The label had previously announced it would hold off on releasing any new music from the singer.
“As a result of the brave testimonies of R. Kelly’s survivors in ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ and growing public pressure to hold R. Kelly accountable, RCA is taking the right step toward acknowledging their role in enabling the singer’s abuse, which had gone unquestioned by the label for too long,” Color of Change Senior Campaign Director Brandi Collins-Dexter said in a Jan. 14 via press release.
“However, it is laughable to think this alone is enough. RCA needs to take a stand and immediately drop him from the label. When Color Of Change’s 1.4 million members began the charge to #MuteRKelly in 2017, we focused on RCA because for over three decades, the label promoted and profited from music by a man who engaged in decades of sexual, mental and physical abuse of Black women and girls. The time is now: if countless civil suits and a trial for 14 counts of child pornography weren’t enough for RCA to stop profiting off the sexual predator, then the testimonies of the women in ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ must be enough. RCA: do Black women and girls one better and drop R. Kelly immediately,” she added.
Billboard has also confirmed R. Kelly has been removed from RCA’s website. (The Root has reached out to Sony/RCA and R. Kelly for comment.)
Update: 1/18/2019, 4:03 p.m. ET:
Since news of the split broke, Color of Change has released a statement in response to the announcement, acknowledging the progress made and also calling for further action from streaming services to follow suit. Said Arisha Hatch, Managing Director of Campaigns at Color Of Change:
After years of profiting from R. Kelly, despite their knowledge of his sexual abuse of Black girls, Sony’s RCA is finally acting. This move comes just two days after Color Of Change and our partners brought our protest to the doorsteps of the label’s headquarters. This is a huge victory for the survivors who came forward, both in ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ and before, and all young Black women, who are systematically undervalued in our society. This victory belongs to the survivors of his abuse — their brave testimonies played a critical role in pushing RCA to drop R. Kelly. Since 2017, when our campaign to #DropRKelly began, over 80,000 Color Of Change members raised their voices to hold R. Kelly and enablers like RCA, accountable. We focused on RCA because for over three decades, the label promoted and profited from music by a man who engaged in decades of sexual, mental and physical abuse of Black women and girls. Our fight is unfinished: there are still so many institutions in the music industry who continue to enable his abuse. RCA can and should go one step further and retire R. Kelly’s albums and songs. Streaming services, like Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, Pandora must stop streaming R. Kelly, as they provide R. Kelly an ongoing revenue stream to maintain his sex trafficking operation. Artists who have worked with R. Kelly must step up and request their music be pulled as well. They must act now.