Ke$sha – Artist Management
At age eighteen, Kesha was signed to Luke’s label and music publishing company. Six months after hosting Paris Hilton at her house, Luke gave Kesha the opportunity to sing background vocals for Hilton’s single, “Nothing in This World”. In 2006, Kesha signed with David Sonenberg’s management company, DAS Communications Inc., hardly interacting with Luke after that. DAS was tasked with obtaining a major label record deal for her in a year’s time in exchange for 20 percent of her music income, with her having the option of ending the relationship if they failed. She worked with several top writers and producers while at the company and credits the creation of her beat-driven sound to a co-writing session with Greg Wells. She also co-wrote The Veronicas’ single, “This Love” with Toby Gad.
While her songs were used on television programs, Kesha moonlighted as a waitress to make ends meet. Two years after arriving in Los Angeles, she decided that she wanted Prince to produce her music and located his home. After she trespassed and was discovered, she was thrown out, but not before she left her demo with him. She appeared in the video for Katy Perry’s single, “I Kissed a Girl” and sang background vocals for Britney Spears’ song “Lace and Leather” in 2008. DAS soon attracted the attention of Kara DioGuardi, who wanted to sign Kesha to Warner. The deal fell through due to conflicts with her existing contract with Dr. Luke’s label. She terminated her contract with DAS in September and reunited with Luke.
Kesha gained exposure in the mainstream media in early 2009 after appearing on Flo Rida’s number one single, “Right Round.” The collaboration was called “an accident” by Kesha; she had walked into a recording session with Flo Rida and Luke. Flo Rida wanted a female voice for the song; Luke then suggested Kesha for the part. Flo Rida liked the end result so much that they did two more tracks. However, she is not credited for her feature on the US release of “Right Round” and did not collect any money for the part. She also refused to appear in the video; she explained in an interview that, “if you want to be a legitimate artist, it’s more important what you say no to. I knew he would want me to be some sexpot, shake my booty, and whatever.”
Soon after, Kesha signed a multi-album deal with RCA Records through Luke’s imprint, after being sought after by Lava Records and Flo Rida’s record label, Atlantic Records as well. RCA had noticed her strong following on social media when negotiating her contract and thus relied on viral marketing to build a following for her debut single, “Tik Tok”, offering the song for free in July. It was released digitally in the US in August and sent to radio two months later. She made her official stage debut at Lollapalooza and was on the cover of Women’s Wear Daily in the same month as the single’s release. By then, Kesha had also co-written the title track for Miley Cyrus’ The Time of Our Lives EP and made an appearance on Pitbull’s album.
Kesha’s debut album, Animal, was released in January 2010 to mixed reviews from music critics. Rolling Stone summed the album up as “repulsive, obnoxious and ridiculously catchy.”It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Album track “Blah Blah Blah” debuted in the top ten in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in the same week as the album due to strong digital sales. “Tik Tok”, had already topped the charts in eleven countries and set numerous records in the US. “Your Love is My Drug” and “Take it Off” would follow with top ten finishes on the Billboard Hot 100 as well. By March, Animal had sold a million copies worldwide with the songs racking up an additional eight million downloads. She would go on to sell another million albums in the next six months. Kesha was featured on two top ten singles by Taio Cruz and 3OH!3 in May. Both opportunities came through recommendations by Dr. Luke.
Later that month, Kesha’s former managers from DAS Communications Inc. filed a lawsuit, seeking $14 million from Kesha and $12 million from Luke for commissions on her RCA Records deal, alleging that she had extended the deadline for them to get her a major record label contract and squeezed them out of her career under pressure from Luke. Kesha launched her own lawsuit in August, motioning to dismiss the case on the grounds that it was her right to fire the management when they did not perform. She cited the Talent Agencies Act in an October suit, asking the California Labor Comissioner to declare her contract with DAS void because it had acted as an unlicensed talent agent while “procuring” work for her in California, where only licensed agents can “procure” work for their clients.
Kesha held a benefit concert on June 16, 2010 where all proceeds went to aid victims of the May 2010 Tennessee floods from her hometown Nashville. She raised close to $70,000 from the event. She also donated 1,000 pounds of dog food to a local animal shelter for pets abandoned in the flood. She was a supporting act on the summer North American leg of Rihanna’s Last Girl on Earth tour. Animal will be re-released under the title Animal + Cannibal on November 22 with the new songs available as a separate extended play, Cannibal, as well. Lead single, “We R Who We R” became only the 17th song to debut at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 three weeks before the album’s release.