New Open Letter to Sony Music CEO Urges Company to Cut Ties with All Abusers, Implement a Comprehensive Gender-Based Violence Prevention & Transparency Policies  

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 29th, 2019
CONTACT: Brett Abrams |
New Open Letter to Sony Music CEO Urges Company to Cut Ties with All Abusers, Implement a Comprehensive Gender-Based Violence Prevention & Transparency Policies  
Groups Associated with the #MuteRKelly Movement Sign on to UltraViolet’s Open Letter Warning Sony Music: “R. Kelly Was Not the Only Abuser You Employ or Work With”
NEW YORK — In a new open letter to Sony Music’s CEO, Doug Morris, a coalition of groups are urging the music industry giant to drop any and all artists with allegations of sexual or domestic violence against them and to take a proactive role in fighting rape culture at the company. The open letter calls for Sony Music to conduct annual research-backed, effective sexual harassment and violence prevention trainings for all staff and artists, and increase transparency by eliminating overly broad non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts that force individuals to resolve employment discrimination and harassment claims through forced arbitration.
The open letter, which was organized by UltraViolet, a leading national women’s advocacy group, and has been signed by a number of groups associated with the #MuteRKelly movement including #MuteRKelly, Color of Change, Girls for Gender Equity, Black Women’s Blueprint, CREDO Action, Care2, and NOW.
The open letter acknowledges the record label’s decision to finally listen to the demands of Black women organizers to cut ties with R. Kelly, but urges the company to also take the same action against other artists with a history of sexual and physical abuse. The letter names artists including Dr. Luke, Chris Brown, Nick Carter of Backstreet Boys, and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith as other artists that Sony Music works with who have a record of gender-based violence.
Shaunna Thomas, Executive Director of UltraViolet, explained:
“R Kelly was not the only abuser of women employed by Sony Music – and its time that they learn from the #MuteRKelly movement and take a proactive role in ending a culture of violence against women that has taken root in the music industry by severing ties to all artists with credible accusations of violence against them.  Every time a famous individual continues to be glorified despite allegations of abuse, we wrongly perpetuate silence by showing survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence that there will be no consequences for abuse. That has a cultural effect far beyond one individual artist.. Sony Music can, and should, be leaders on this issue.”
Kenyette Tisha Barnes-#MuteRKelly added:
“As we exist in the space of holding powerful offenders accountable for sexually predatory behavior, it is our hope that Sony follows the same decision, made to discontinue a relationship with R Kelly; and extend this among other problematic artists. For years, the culture of the entertainment industry, has served as an incubator for sexually predatory behavior; and it’s time those who are instrumental in maintaining the requisite capital for these entertainers to buy themselves out of accountability, are no longer complicit–yet part of the solution.”
Heidi Hess, Co-Director of CREDO Action, added:

“Sony was complicit in R. Kelly’s decades-long abuse of Black girls and young women. Dropping Kelly is not enough. As long as the company continues to enable the many known sexual predators on its music label, women and their allies will be knocking down its doors demanding justice.”
Lacey Kohlmoos, Organizing Strategist at Care2 said:
“Serial abusers have no place in the music industry, or in any industry and it is long past time that Sony Music cleared house – removing sexual abusers from their payroll. Care2 is proud to have worked alongside the #MuteRKelly founders and the #FreeKesha coordinators, to demand Sony Music hold abusers accountable – but this piecemeal approach continues to fail survivors of abuse. Only by establishing a comprehensive policy can Sony Music make the fundamental changes that it needs to make it clear that they stand with survivors, and against abusers.”
Joanne N. Smith, Founder and President of Girls for Gender Equity said:
“If the #MuteRKelly movement and Surviving R. Kelly docuseries taught us anything, its that sexual violence and abuse does not occur in isolation. People and systems continue to uphold its existence – and are just as responsible for sexual violence as those who perpetrate it in the first place. Once we know, we cannot stop knowing. The responsibility is now on institutions like Sony Music to end their support of others in the music industry who perpetuate abuse. To survivors everywhere, we see you, we hear you and we believe you.”
Sonia Ossorio, President, NOW-NYC added:
“Sony and RCA Records have taken a huge step forward, but there’s more to do to rid the industry of sexual abuse and harassment. That starts at the top with company executives who will stand up and commit to changing what has been too long the norm. It’s time for the music industry to have it’s MeToo movement.”
Hundreds of thousands of people signed on to petitions from UltraViolet, Color of Change, CREDO and Care2, echoing the calls of the #MuteRKelly and the #TimesUp movements, urging RCA Records to drop R. Kelly.  UltraViolet commissioned a plane banner to fly over Sony Music’s HQs in Los Angeles, urging RCA Records to sever ties with R Kelly and took part in the “#MuteRKelly Rally to Protect Black Girls” at Sony Music HQ’s in New York City two weeks ago.
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UltraViolet is a community of more than one million people that drives feminist cultural and political change. Through people power and strategic advocacy, we work to improve the lives of women and girls of all identities and backgrounds, and all people impacted by sexism, by dismantling discrimination and creating a cost for sexism.