Amid mounting pressure from Kesha supporters, Sony Music will reportedly drop producer Dr. Luke from its roster a year before his contract is set to expire. According to the Wrap, the label is planning to end its relationship with the pop songwriter, né Lukasz Gottwald, who allegedly sexually and emotionally abused Kesha for years after she signed with him at the age of 18.
Dr. Luke and Sony Music have been battling Kesha in court for more than a year. Kesha filed a suit in 2014 against the producer and Sony to get out of a contract that requires her to make three more albums with Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe Records, which Sony owns, before releasing any other music elsewhere. Last month, a judge denied her request for a preliminary injunction.
Since then, a slew of prominent musicians, including Lady Gaga, Adele, and Kelly Clarkson, have spoken publicly in support of Kesha. Others, like Miley Cyrus and Fiona Apple, have backed her up on social media. Taylor Swift sent a friendly $250,000 her way.
Dropping Dr. Luke would be a colossal financial bet for Sony and a testament to how scared the label’s heads must be of the escalating backlash from fans and musicians within Sony’s ranks. Dr. Luke is the fifth most chart-topping producer—just a few singles behind Beatles producer George Martin, who died on Tuesday—and the sixth most chart-topping songwriter of all time.
But even if Sony cuts ties with the producer, it may not do Kesha any good. The decision of whether to keep or trash Kesha’s contract was never fully up to Sony at all. “[Kesha’s] contract belongs to Gottwald’s company, Kasz Money, which made a separate deal with Sony’s RCA/Jive; Sony reportedly can’t release her from the deal even if its executives wanted to,” Rolling Stone reported in February. Without a behemoth of a label backing him up, Dr. Luke might decide to give up on enforcing a hostile contract with an artist who’s accused him of sex crimes—but without a judge’s order, he doesn’t have to.