The #FreeKesha movement has been vocal and widespread on social media, but it was a small yet passionate group of about 20 that gathered outside Sony’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan on Friday to protest in support of Kesha.
The artist is currently embroiled in a complicated legal battle with her producer, Dr. Luke (Lukasz Gottwald), who she alleges sexually abused her.
Earlier this month, Kesha lost an injunction request that would have let her record music outside of her contract. She is currently required to release six additional albums under Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe Records, a label owned by Sony.
“As women who want to hopefully have a profession in this industry, I think it’s absurd that a woman be treated this way,” an 18-year-old protester named Devon Baran told Business Insider. Baran is a student at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, who arrived at the protest with two friends.
I think that it also says that if you are a man in this industry and the more money you make, the more immune you are — especially if you’re a white man — and that’s not ok. I want to be in this industry and treated with respect,” she added.
Women are often afraid of coming forward after being abused for fear that they won’t be helped or believed, Muriel Wandey, another student at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute, said.
“Especially when it’s something that happens so much in the industry,” she said. “Women are shoved under the rug all the time.”
An attorney representing Sony told the New York Times, “Sony is doing everything it can to support the artist in these circumstances, but is legally unable to terminate the contract to which it is not a party,” referring to Kesha’s separate legal obligation to Dr. Luke’s company.
“I understand the legality, but at the same time, I don’t understand that as an institution, you can excuse an action like that,” Baran said of Sony’s response. “Even if they say she can work with a different producer, every penny she makes, he gets a percentage of. They are supposed to protect her and look out for her as an artist… As an institution with a lot of power, they should use their power to say that’s not right and they’re going to take action against it.”
Lori, a protester who made a sign featuring lyrics from Kesha’s unreleased “Dancing with the Devil,” which many fans speculate is about Dr. Luke, said she’s just trying to bring more attention to Kesha’s struggle.
“All we can really do right now is spread awareness and be confident in ourselves that we’re doing a really good thing for her today.”
Though she hoped for a larger gathering outisde Sony, Lori said she’s excited to see all the encouragement the “Tik Tok” pop star is getting on the internet.
“I’d never used Twitter too much until now… and so many Kesha fans have been so supportive,” she said. “We all stick together and at the end of the day, we want Kesha free. There are going to be people who can’t be here, but we’re their voice today.”
The protesters chanted “Free Kesha now” and “Drop Luke to free Kesha” while marching with their signs.
Back in December, a petition to free Kesha from her Sony contract had a goal of 90,000 signatures. That benchmark has since increased to 210,000 and has, as of this writing, 201,956 signatures. Austin Dean, the organiser behind the petition, organised Friday’s protest, as well as the one held in front of the courthouse the day Kesha’s injunction was denied.
Scores of fans and other artists, including Lady Gaga, Adele, Demi Lovato, and Taylor Swift have shown their support for Kesha in their own ways. Swift gave the fellow musician $250,000 for her legal fight.
If Kesha remains unable to release music outside of her contract with Sony and Dr. Luke, her lawyers argue, it could mean the death of her career.
“At the end of the day, people can say it’s grey, but it’s black and white,” Baran weighed in on the plight. “It’s ridiculous that there’s even a conversation still going on. It’s sickening.”
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