R. Kelly’s Sony Music Royalties Seized By Chicago Landlord To Pay Off Huge Back Rent Bill

Written by Dana Sanchez
R. Kelly performs during the 2015 Soul Train Awards at the Orleans Arena on Friday, Nov. 6, 2015, in Las Vegas. (Photo by Al Powers/ Powers Imagery/Invision/AP)

The landlord of R. Kelly’s Chicago studio successfully ordered a freeze of the artist’s royalty account in order to collect back rent.

Midwest Commercial Funding recently issued a subpoena to Sony Music Holdings, Inc and was able to get the music company to freeze $264,535 in Kelly’s biannual royalty account, according to court documents, The Blast reported.

“R. Kelly may not be releasing any new music in the near future, but his old stuff is still making bank, so his landlord knew exactly where to go to collect the back rent the singer owed,” Ryan Naumann wrote for The Blast.

Sony and R. Kelly agreed to part ways after the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly” in January detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against the singer, according to Billboard. R. Kelly became part of Sony BMG in the 1990s, and had been under contract at RCA, a Sony subsidiary, since 2012. #MuteRKelly protests were held outside the Sony building in Manhattan in January.

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The money frozen by Sony was meant to pay off $173,855.08 still owed to the landlord on a judgment awarded after the R&B singer stopped paying rent on his Chicago music studio, The Blast reported. However, the landlord managed to collect $154,527.22 from one of Kelly’s Bank of America accounts after a “turnover order” was issued. Midwest says it still needs $52,431.55 from the Sony account before R. Kelly’s debt is cleared.

R. Kelly’s catalog will remain with RCA/Sony and his music is still available on digital retailers and streaming services, Billboard reported in January.

In May 2018, music streaming service Spotify removed all of R. Kelly’s music from its playlists as part of a controversial hateful conduct policy. Spotify later reversed the decision.

Considered one of the most successful R&B artists of all time, R. Kelly
made his money from album sales and touring — at least until January. He has sold more than 60 million albums and 15 million singles worldwide. Billboard named him the most successful Hip-hop/R&B artist from 1985 to 2010 and the most successful R&B artist of all time. 

About Dana Sanchez

Dana Sanchez was born in South Africa and is a U.S. citizen. After working in advertising, she went back to school and earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of South Florida. As a business writer, she won regional and national writing awards. As editor of a daily newspaper, she coordinated staff writers, freelancers and photographers in the fast-paced environment of daily news. Dana was an editor at Moguldom Media Group for four years, helping to build and manage a team of staff and freelance writers. She works now on Moguldom.com for Nubai Ventures. A long-distance hiker and cyclist, she writes about the business of technology.