Slaves to Sony


According to Forbes, Sony is worth $59.9 billion.

Mara Fendrich, Staff Writer

         Here’s some food for thought: Michael Jackson hated Sony.

    The king of pop was never one for bad-mouthing others, but the record label he severed ties with after accumulating billions for was one exception. With an endless amount of singers alluding to the hidden evil of the music industry, it’s no secret that companies often abuse their power over the artists in contracts with them. And when Jackson left Sony, it’s unlikely the situation ended well.

    “The way [Sony gets] revenge is to try and destroy my album! But I’ve always said, art — good art — never dies,” said Jackson at a 2002 concert where he voiced his grounds of war with the company. “And Tommy Mottola is a devil!”

    He wasn’t kidding. Around that time, Mottola was the CEO of Sony Music Entertainment and the ex-husband of singer Mariah Carey. Their divorce had taken place four years prior, and rumors about the true nature of their relationship had been coursing through Hollywood ever since. Mottola, 20 years her senior, had Carey signed to Sony when she was 18; they got married five years later.

    “I’m not supposed to say what I’m going to say right now, but I have to let [everyone] know this…Mariah Carey, after divorcing Tommy, came to me crying,” said Jackson. “She was crying so badly I had to hold her. She said to me, ‘This is an evil man, and Michael, this man follows me.’ He taps her phones, and he’s very, very evil. She doesn’t trust him.”

    It’s commonly believed that at the time, Carey became a “slave” to Sony and lost complete control over multiple aspects of her life. She’s far from the only figure in music to have said experience. Kesha’s infamous legal dispute with music producer Dr. Luke uncovered shocking insights about the music industry to the public eye. In 2014, the singer sued Dr. Luke for the alleged emotional, physical, verbal and sexual abuse he treated her with since she was signed to his label in 2005. During the trial, Kesha revealed appalling details of her time with the label, including Dr. Luke’s verbal abuse towards her when she broke life-threatening diets and how she lost complete control of her public image. The label she was signed to fell under Sony.

    “I got offered my freedom if I were to lie,”  said Kesha in a social media post. “I would have to apologize publicly and say that I never got raped. This is what happens behind closed doors. I will not take back the truth. I would rather let the truth ruin my career than lie for a monster ever again.”

    The theme of slavery within the music industry is even more prominent than one might expect. Members of musical groups such as Fifth Harmony and BTS have been hospitalized regularly due to exhaustion. As chance would have it, both groups are signed under Sony.

    “[Management makes] decisions on a regular basis to [expletive] us over, to make us literal slaves!” said Fifth Harmony singer Lauren Jauregui in a leaked audio of the group members in which they were rumored to be on the verge of tears. “We’re doing [expletive] labor every day and we see nothing!”

    Hollywood was left in shock in the aftermath of 2017’s “Me Too” movement, in which important figures such as Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey were exposed for sexual misconduct. While artists are legally required to remain tight-lipped about these dark truths, there’s always hope that cruel leaders in the music industry can be taken down in a similar fashion to the film industry. Kesha and Carey breaking free of their chains may inspire future artists to do the same, showing the world that they are stronger together and that their voices will be heard.