That's the word from Billboard, which said Friday that the two would be splitting. An official statement from Sony has not been released.
Sony Music owns RCA Records, the label behind multiple Kelly albums including 2016's 12 Nights of Christmas and the 2014 compilation The Essential R. Kelly. Earlier this week, it was reported that RCA and Sony had decided to put any new Kelly music on hold. Per TMZ, Kelly's current deal was believed to include two more albums under the label.
This month the national women's organization UltraViolet commissioned a plane to fly a banner reading "RCA/SONY: DROP SEXUAL PREDATOR R. KELLY" over the Sony Music offices in Culver City.
"We are deeply disappointed that in light of the comprehensive allegations of sexual abuse made public by the Surviving R. Kelly documentary, that RCA Records and Spotify continue to choose abusers over the survivors of their crimes," Karin Roland, the group's chief campaigns officer, said.
As of Jan. 18, R. Kelly's name had been removed from the roster page of the official RCA site.
Also on Friday, NBC released the first footage from their interview with Tracy Sampson, who alleges that Kelly began a sexual relationship with her when she was 16. "I didn't know if this is how adults acted," she said. Sampson was an intern for Epic Records, also owned by Sony Music.
In a new statement Friday, UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas said their battle now moves to places like Spotify and iHeartRadio:
It is long past time that Sony Music and RCA Records sever ties with R. Kelly.
This has been a long and harrowing battle for justice for the all the Black girls who were disbelieved and made vulnerable to R. Kelly. Sony's decision to drop Kelly is all thanks to the survivors who spoke out, and the activists who've been fighting for accountability for Kelly for years, including the leaders behind the #MuteRKelly movement, Color of Change, Girls for Gender Equity and so many more. UltraViolet is proud to have worked with them. Today’s announcement is a victory for them and for the Black women who have been struggling to secure justice even amid this #MeToo reckoning.
Now we look to music platforms like Spotify and IHeartRadio, who continue to allow abusers like R. Kelly to reap in profits and expand their fan base, to send a clear signal that they stand with survivors, not abusers, and take steps to sever ties with R. Kelly.
Arisha Hatch, who serves as the managing director of campaigns for Color of Change, shared the below statement:
“After years of profiting from R. Kelly, despite their knowledge of his sexual abuse of Black girls, Sony’s RCA is finally acting. This move comes just two days after Color Of Change and our partners brought our protest to the doorsteps of the label’s headquarters.
This 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. This victory belongs to the survivors of his abuse -- their brave testimonies played a critical role in pushing RCA to drop R. Kelly.
Since 2017, when our campaign to #DropRKelly began, over 80,000 Color Of Change members raised their voices to hold R. Kelly and enablers like RCA, accountable. We focused on RCA because for over three decades, the label promoted and profited from music by a man who engaged in decades of sexual, mental and physical abuse of Black women and girls.
Our fight is unfinished: there are still so many institutions in the music industry who continue to enable his abuse. RCA can and should go one step further and retire R. Kelly’s albums and songs. Streaming services, like Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, Pandora must stop streaming R. Kelly, as they provide R. Kelly an ongoing revenue stream to maintain his sex trafficking operation. Artists who have worked with R. Kelly must step up and request their music be pulled as well. They must act now.