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Sony Music & RCA part ways with R. Kelly

R Kelly - The Buffet

RCA Records and its parent company Sony Music have parted ways with R. Kelly, Variety and Billboard report. Kelly has been taken off the list of artists on RCA’s website, but it’s unclear whether his back catalog will stay with the label. No formal announcement about the change is currently planned by RCA or Sony, whose representatives couldn’t be reached for comment by Billboard or Variety.

The move follows a protest staged outside Sony Music Headquarters in NYC on Wednesday (1/16), where a petition with over 200k signatures demanding the label drop Kelly was delivered. Last week (1/11), a plane pulling a banner reading “Drop Sexual Predator R Kelly” was flown over Sony’s Culver City, CA offices.

National women’s group UltraViolet was behind both protests, and co-founder Shaunna Thomas issued a statement about Kelly’s departure from RCA:

It is long past time that Sony Music and RCA Records sever ties with R. Kelly.

This has been a long and harrowing battle for justice for the all the Black girls who were disbelieved and made vulnerable to R. Kelly. Sony’s decision to drop Kelly is all thanks to the survivors who spoke out, and the activists who’ve been fighting for accountability for Kelly for years, including the leaders behind the #MuteRKelly movement, Color of Change, Girls for Gender Equity and so many more. UltraViolet is proud to have worked with them. Today’s announcement is a victory for them and for the Black women who have been struggling to secure justice even amid this #MeToo reckoning.

Now we look to music platforms like Spotify and IHeartRadio, who continue to allow abusers like R. Kelly to reap in profits and expand their fan base, to send a clear signal that they stand with survivors, not abusers, and take steps to sever ties with R. Kelly.

Kelly has been accused of numerous sex crimes over the course of decades, and is the subject of the recently aired Lifetime documentary Surviving R. Kelly, which documents those allegations. The documentary reportedly spurred the opening of a new criminal investigation into Kelly in Georgia, and led to artists who had worked with Kelly in the past, including Lady Gaga and Phoenix, to apologize for their collaborations.

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