R. Kelly and Sony have parted ways after numerous calls for the company to drop the artist, multiple publications reported Friday.
The “dissolving” of the relationship, as first reported by Variety, comes in the shadow of Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly” docu-series and two days after advocates gathered outside Sony’s Manhattan headquarters in protest.
Sony Music and its subsidiary RCA did not comment publicly on the decision and did not immediately respond to amNewYork’s request for comment. As of Friday afternoon, R. Kelly’s name was not present on a client list on RCA’s website.
Protesters, including representatives of racial justice group Color of Change and Girls for Gender Equity, presented Sony on Wednesday with a petition signed by 217,000 people. Mostly women, the group gathered outside the headquarters at Madison Avenue and East 25th Street, some chanting, "RCA, take a stand. We won’t stop till Kelly’s banned."
Arisha Hatch, managing director of campaigns at Color of Change, said in a statement that Sony’s reported split from R. Kelly "is a huge victory for the survivors who came forward both in ‘Surviving R. Kelly’ and before, and all young Black women, who are systematically undervalued in our society."
"Our fight is unfinished: there are still so many institutions in the music industry who continue to enable his abuse," she continued, calling on RCA to retire R. Kelly’s records and remove his tracks from streaming services.
Reports of sexual abuse involving R. Kelly surfaced nearly two decades ago after the Chicago Sun-Times received an anonymous video recording of the artist involved in a sexual act with an apparent minor. Reporter Jim DeRogatis followed the investigation for the publication. A 2017 BuzzFeed report sparked the #MuteRKelly movement, backed by Time’s Up. The report claimed the artist was keeping young women under his control in a cultlike environment.
"Surviving R. Kelly" featured the stories of women who accused the rapper of physical, sexual and mental abuse.