Sony to drop Dr. Luke amid public pressure over Kesha, internal headaches (Exclusive)

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Clarkson Says She Was Blackmailed to Work With Dr. Luke

Sony Music is expected to end its working relationship with controversial producer Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald a year ahead of his contract's expiration, knowledgeable individuals have told TheWrap.

The output deal has become a public relations headache for the company since pop star Kesha's sexual abuse allegations against Gottwald have resulted in a nasty court battle — and a groundswell of support for the singer from influential fellow artists like Adele, Lady Gaga and Kelly Clarkson.

A Sony Music spokesperson declined to comment on the matter. Representatives for Gottwald did not return TheWrap's requests for comment.

Kesha through the years:

1 PHOTOS
Kesha
See Gallery
Sony to drop Dr. Luke amid public pressure over Kesha, internal headaches (Exclusive)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Kesha, signed to Gottwald's Kemosabe Records imprint at Sony, filed suit in 2014 against both the producer and Sony to exit her own deal. The New York State Supreme Court has thus far sided with Sony given a lack of evidence to support the abuse claims, but the public relations nightmare has internally been deemed not worth the hassle, the insiders said.

"There is no contest. Kesha has no case in regards to her contract but they can't afford the Adeles of the world out in the streets calling the label unsupportive," one individual familiar with upper management's thinking told TheWrap. "The fact that this hasn't already been taken care of with Luke is confusing, especially for people in the building."

Gottwald, who has vehemently denied the claims, signed a five-year agreement in late 2011 that comes up in early 2017, two individuals familiar his contract said.

It's currently unknown how Sony intends to free itself from the relationship, a decision that would fall on CEO Doug Morris and his boss, Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. Any unilateral dissolution of the contract would be a direct breach, so a negotiated exit would be most likely to save face on both sides.

"Somebody has been convicted via Twitter," a second individual close to the decision said of Luke and the outcry over unsubstantiated accusations. "No court has convicted this person, so there may not be any legal basis to terminate an agreement. It would have to be mutual."

It's also unclear what would happen to Gottwald's other signed artists. Many appear on Kemosabe as co-signees to more established Sony labels like RCA and Columbia Records. They include 27-year-old rapper Lunchmoney Lewis, who is expected to deliver an album with Gottwald in late 2016.

Gottwald's deal has been widely reported to pay him $60 million over its duration, though an insider familiar with the terms told TheWrap that figure was inflated. Sony is believed to have hired Gottwald less for his ability to build a stable of artists under a traditional label model than to secure exclusive rights to his services as a producer of hit records.

"He's the best guy at the moment, as far as a writer and a producer," Morris told the New York Times in a 2011 profile in which he compared Gottwald to Jimmy Iovine — the storied producer who co-founded Interscope Records and developed talent like Tupac Shakur, Eminem and Gaga.

After five years, though, Kemosabe has not emerged as a mini-Interscope. The label's biggest star is Kesha, who has not released new music since 2012. Rapper Juicy J, who was featured on the hit track "Dark Horse" with frequent Gottwald collaborator Katy Perry, and pop star Becky G are also on the roster.

"There have definitely been portions of the deal that are profitable," another person familiar with the financial details of Gottwald's operations told TheWrap, citing Prescription Songs, Gottwald's music publishing operation.

As a producer, Gottwald has provided Sony with hits like Miley Cyrus' 2013 adult pop crossover "Wrecking Ball," rapper Pitbull's monster single "Timber" (featuring Kesha) and songs for Sony artist Nicki Minaj. He's also been recruited to provide original music on soundtracks for Sony Pictures releases like "The Smurfs 2."

In addition, Sony has received compensation when Gottwald has worked for non-Sony labels, the insider said. Like on Katy Perry's hit record "Prism," released by Universal's Capitol Records in late 2013. Seven out of 13 were songs co-written and produced by Gottwald and Swedish pop institution Max Martin. The record also landed a Best Pop Vocal Grammy nomination.

Earnings from Sony's music division rose 4 percent in 2015 to $1.16 billion, according to the company's annual statement. But operating costs climbed 20 percent to $122 million.

Sony's top-selling records of last year included Meghan Trainor's "Title" and Shogo Hamada's "Journey of a Songwriter" — neither of which was affiliated with Kemosabe or Gottwald.

Read original story Sony to Drop Dr. Luke Amid Public Pressure Over Kesha, Internal Headaches (Exclusive) At TheWrap

More on AOL.com
'Fuller House' star Jodie Sweetin responds to Miley Cyrus' Instagram jab
JJ Abrams cops to one 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' 'mistake'
Harrison Ford reveals his 26-year-old daughter has epilepsy: 'She's my hero'
Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL and get the top celebrity, movies, music and TV news delivered to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

19 of the Creepiest, Most Inexplicable Things People Ever Experienced 19 of the Creepiest, Most Inexplicable Things People Ever Experienced
This Elephant Was Separated From Her Mother As A Baby - But She's About To Get A Huge This Elephant Was Separated From Her Mother As A Baby - But She's About To Get A Huge
Man Built This Contraption In His Backyard - And Even He Was Surprised How Well It Worked Man Built This Contraption In His Backyard - And Even He Was Surprised How Well It Worked