In the wake of Kesha's denial for an injunction, a source shares 'typically terrible' details of a record label deal.

By Jessica Goodman
February 24, 2016 at 05:29 PM EST
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

After Kesha was denied a preliminary injunction in her case against Dr. Luke on Friday, the pop star’s future in the music industry remains unclear. The court ruling denied Kesha, who has alleged Dr. Luke sexually and physically abused her, the ability to release music outside of her contract with Dr. Luke’s label Kemosabe, which is owned by Sony. (Dr. Luke has denied the allegations.)

So what is typically detailed in a recording contract signed by an artist? A legal source familiar with the music industry, but who is not involved with suit, tells EW artists’ bargaining power is limited if they’re signing at the beginning of their careers.

“The terms they get are terrible,” says the source. “Typically terrible. As they become more of a celeb and star, and the company becomes more dependent on the artist, because they have only so many artists that generate revenue for them, the leverage shifts.”

According to a statement from Dr. Luke’s lawyer Christine Lepera on Feb. 22, Sony Music has spent “over $11 million promoting Kesha, and Sony Music and its label Kemosabe are committed to continuing to promote her work.” And while some artists could get let out of their contracts early, the source notes such a case going to trial is unique. “It’s rare that it goes to court,” says the source. “Usually it’s resolved by a check — the label paying the artists for renegotiating their deal.”

Kesha’s initial complaints against Dr. Luke haven’t been tried in court yet; her legal team is due back in court for discovery March 21.

Reporting by Gillian Telling.

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