R. Kelly's Record Label Puts Music on Hold After Lifetime Releases 'Surviving'

R. Kelly's record label is pressing pause on producing any new music for the R&B singer in the [...]

R. Kelly's record label is pressing pause on producing any new music for the R&B singer in the wake of the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly.

According to sources familiar with Kelly's contract, RCA, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, will not produce or pay for new music, nor will it release any of his new music, TMZ reports. The record company is reportedly waiting for the criminal investigations into Kelly to conclude or until the public fallout is resolved.

TMZ also reports that Kelly is not happy with the turn of events, as he has been recording new music to fulfill the obligations under his RCA contract, which requires two new albums.

Much attention has focused on RCA/Sony. On Friday, the advocacy group UltaViolet flew a banner over RCA's offices in Culver City, California, asking the label to cancel its contract with the "Fly Like an Eagle" singer.


"It is long past time for RCA to dump R. Kelly and take a stand against abuse," the group said in a statement. Neither RCA nor Sony has commented on the docu-series, nor on the calls to end their relationship with the singer.

Some music industry lawyers and executives say the decision is a tricky one, as the company has the right to cancel the contract, but that it could be costly, as dropping a well-known artist is not an easy decision to make. RCA may also be weighing the risks associated with being accused of censorship or of abandoning its contractual obligations.

"The risks for RCA/Sony are glaringly obvious — subjecting themselves to public pressure, being viewed as condoning bad behavior, lacking sensitivity, and choosing money over integrity," Jeff Rabhan, the chairman of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University, told The New York Times.

The label may be able to decline an option to extend Kelly's most recent record deal, as it's common for contracts to give the label a right to pay the artist a fee rather than release new material, known as "pay or play."

"You can always drop an artist," music lawyer Elliot Groffman told the Times. "The only issue is what obligations you have to that artist if you drop them."

There is also the possibility that RCA/Sony may have struck a morals clause with Kelly, or that RCA may argue that its association with Kelly has become damaging to the company, which would lead to a way out of the contract.

Despite the public outrage swelling against Kelly in the wake of the documentary, which spotlighted dozens of women accusing him of sexual assault or misconduct, daily streams of his songs in the United States more than doubled, according to Nielsen, from 1.9 million the day before the series began to 4.3 million on its last day.

Kelly has vehemently denied the accusations against him, with his lawyer Steven Greenberg calling those who appeared on the documentary "a bunch of disgruntled people who are looking for their 15 minutes of TMZ fame."