Universal Music Publishing Group Dropped R. Kelly Last Spring: Exclusive

R. Kelly
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R. Kelly performs at Oracle Arena on Jan. 15, 2017 in Oakland, Calif.

Word that Sony had parted ways with Kelly broke today

Universal Music Publishing Group has quietly dropped R. Kelly from its songwriter roster, months before his label, Sony Music's RCA Records, ended its recording contract with him Jan. 18.

“UMPG no longer represents R. Kelly,” a company spokesperson confirmed to Billboard.

The move happened last spring, according to sources.

UMPG acquired Kelly’s catalog in 2007, as part of parent Universal Music Group’s acquisition of BMG Music Publishing. BMG Music Publishing included Zomba, which controlled Kelly’s copyrights. UMPG still owns his catalog. 

Kelly has 681 songs registered with BMI, including such hits as “I Believe I Can Fly,” "Bump N' Grind" and “Ignition,” as well as tracks for other artists, including "You Are Not Alone," co-written and recorded by Michael Jackson.

Earlier Friday (Jan. 18), Billboard broke the news that Sony, R. Kelly’s label home, and Kelly had agreed to part ways. The news came on the heels of the Lifetime documentary series Surviving R. Kelly, which detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against the singer. 

Kelly had been signed to labels now owned by Sony since the beginning of his career in the early 1990s and has been under contract at RCA since 2012.

Allegations against Kelly have been around for more than a decade, and he was acquitted on child pornography charges in 2008. But they have resurfaced repeatedly in recent years, with the latest arriving this month. Kelly has repeatedly denied all allegations of misconduct.

A representative for Kelly did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

--Assistance on this story provided by Ed Christman, Hannah Karp and Dan Rys