“It’s too late,” said Robert Kelly, wearing sunglasses indoors, smoking a cigar in his left hand, toasting with friends. “They should have done this shit 30 years ago.”
It was May 2018 and R&B artist, known as R Kelly, has been suing since the 1990s. But after BuzzFeed reported, he re-verified that he kept women in a “cult-like” setting, asking them for permission to eat or use the bathroom.
Kelly dismissed the allegations, turning the wine into a plastic cup and saying, “Music has already entered the world.”
Three years later, the 54-year-old could face life in prison. In recent weeks, 455 witnesses in a Brooklyn courtroom have told stories of Kelly’s physical, mental and sexual abuse. Now, one of the best-selling recording artists in recent history has finally faced the consequences. A jury on Monday found Kelly guilty of all charges of sexual trafficking and rape, including child sexual abuse.
Why Kelly felt invincible before is not a little surprising. He endured decades of complaints and lawsuits, each systematically delayed or disposed of, as the music director and staff looked the other way when the star rose. Kelly’s enduring hits such as “I Believe I Can Fly” dominated primary school graduation, and even black women sued him for abusing them as teenagers.
Jim Derogatis, a Chicago music journalist and critic, said, “Nothing beats the omnipotent dollar in the music industry.” “Film, politics, much more than anywhere else on #MeToo, there are pictures of ‘Bad Boy’ hip hop or rock n roll star.”
Kelly’s return, considered the most high-profile crime in the history of modern music, has shed an uncomfortable light on the practice of an art that has derived its fortunes from these “bad boys.”
The artist has sold more than 40 million albums in his career. Even with hearing loss this year due to public disrespect, its former label RCA Royalty has raised nearly $ 2 million in revenue, Billboard estimated in August.
In 2017, the #MeToo movement wreaked havoc on the film and television industry, as reportedly by Harvey Weinstein and others, exposing the abuse, expelling the majority of the powerful Titans from business and politics. But with few exceptions, the music business did not go through the same moments of reckoning that were felt in Hollywood or anywhere else in corporate America.
Many popular musicians, including David Bowie, Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson, have been accused of sexual misconduct for years. Lared stories abound on the star-eyed teen fans of the huge number of rock stars.
However, with Kelly’s conviction, music is now his Weinstein – a single personality whose works were too extensive and disgusting to be ignored. But will the industry change this time?
When the song stops
In some cases, Kelly has already become a nuted word for the past few years. He has been virtually removed from radio and dropped by record labels Sony and Universal. According to chartmetric data, Kelly’s monthly Spotify audience dropped from more than 8.3m in 2018 to 4.9m this week. But these figures still make him equal to works like Steve Knicks and The XX.
As he faces a financial crisis, Kelly recently urged investors to buy his shares from his lyric catalog, according to people contacted by the singer. Yet a catalog decorated with monster hits is now on fire sale; Even Mark Mercuridis, the executive who has pleaded guilty to hundreds of catalogs in recent years, has “no interest”.
Barry Masarsky, who values music resources, said he would not “touch” Kelly’s catalog evaluation work. “Buyers will be really incomprehensible. We have never had to deal with a respectable risk before, ”he said. “It’s about predicting future cash flow, and how do you do it here?”
Yet while the industry is now avoiding him, music directors have known about the allegations against Kelly for decades.
At the top of the list is Clive Calder, who made billions by signing teen stars Ensign and Britney Spears, and in addition to Kelly, his company Jive Records created the 1990s pop powerhouse. Calder told the Washington Post in 2018 that “obviously we missed something,” but added that he was “not a psychiatrist.”
After Kelly was arrested in 2003 on charges of child pornography, Barry Weiss, chief executive of Ziv from 1991 to 2011, told the New York Times: And Kelly has to be Kelly.
Weiss told FT that when he made the remarks, he had “no idea what abusive behavior was going on.”
Weiss said the agreement usually prevents record companies from excluding an artist unless they are convicted of a crime. “Once you sign them, you’re bound by a contract,” he said. “[The artist] Not an employee they don’t work for you. This is a job for a rental agreement. ”
Even now, there is little to indicate that Weiss or Calder’s career has been affected by their connection to Callie. Last year, the industry bible showed Rolling Stone Weiss in a brilliant series about “industry leaders,” when Calder retired to the Cayman Islands, selling his empire for .7 2.7 billion.
Calder could not immediately be reached for comment.
“The executives are paralyzed. They’re burying their heads in the sand, “said Drew Dixon, a former A&R executive who has filed a rape complaint against music mogul Russell Simmons. “The idea that this ineffective culture is necessary to create the magic of hit records is a cop-out.”
Dixon got her dream job in her early 20s: looking for talent for a Diff Jam recording where she worked with artists like the infamous Bigg but left the company after Simmons accused her of raping her. Eventually he will come out of the industry completely. Simmons denies Dixon’s allegations and says all of his relationships were at sens low.
Kelly will spend at least 10 years in prison. Yet his music will survive, as record companies and streaming services point fingers at each other over who should be responsible for deciding whether to take his songs offline.
Sony’s RCA and Universal Music each have their own copyright. No company advertises his work and both have dropped Kelly from their list. But they put his music online.
A key label executive of the pair, speaking on condition of anonymity, defended Kelly’s choice to keep the music out of the world, arguing that removing it would punish her songwriters who still make money from them. Another executive said streaming services should call what content they host.
In 2018, Spotify briefly removed Kelly’s music from its powerful playlist, but reversed the policy just weeks later, saying at the time: “We don’t want to judge and jury.”
Sony, Universal Music and Amazon declined to comment on the story, while Spotify and YouTube declined to comment.
Dixon says he has been discouraged this week by the relative silence from big musicians and music directors. “And Kelly is the lamb of sacrifice,” Dixon said. “They decide: we’ll cut that appendix and keep it running.”