The Ordeal of Kesha: How a Music Career Can Go Terribly Wrong

Kesha–or Ke$ha, if you must–has been MIA for some time. What happened? In short, a hideously Kafka-esque legal battle with producer Dr. Luke, the guy that first signed her. The saga is pretty sordid and is a cautionary tale about how a music career can go terribly pear-shaped.

Read this timeline from PassionWeiss. Whatever opinion you might have of her music, you’ll want to be on her side in this battle.

All Kesha wants to do is leave her contract. This September, the singer born Kesha Rose Sebert was forced to push for a preliminary injunction from a New York judge to implore the court to speed up her ongoing legal battle with Dr. Luke, the producer to whom she’s been tied for over a decade. Without it, her career could be over by the time it’s allowed to proceed.

Luke–real name Lukasz Gottwald–signed Kesha in 2005. Their contract hasn’t been renegotiated since then, which is far from industry standard for a platinum selling artist. (Labels often sign new artists to long deals, then renegotiate if that artist becomes a star, to keep him or her happy and productive.) Meanwhile, Kesha’s career has languished, through no failure of her own. Her most recent appearance on record, a 2013 guest turn on Pitbull’s Dr. Luke-produced single “Timber”, was a runaway success that in any other case would secure an artist a release date. Instead, Kesha’s resources are cut off while she sits in legal and career purgatory.

What follows is a comprehensive timeline of Kesha’s career to this point, including what the star alleges was going on behind the scenes. Kesha’s claims against Luke and Sony have broad implications for women who are under the contractual control of abusive men. At a key moment when women in music are coming forward with their horror stories of industry sexism, it is time to rally around–and believe–Kesha.

Keep reading.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

3 thoughts on “The Ordeal of Kesha: How a Music Career Can Go Terribly Wrong

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.