The projection model, made by a financial expert retained by Dr. Luke (real name Lukasz Gottwald) and obtained by Rolling Stone, was part of a trove of records related to the producer’s upcoming defamation case against Kesha. The records were unsealed Monday, October 25th, and a judge now has to decide what will be admissible as evidence in the upcoming case; both parties will get the chance to argue for and against the inclusion of certain items at a hearing on Thursday, October 28th. (A start date for the defamation trial has still not been announced.)
Lawyers for Gottwald and Kesha did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.
The report on Gottwald’s projected financial losses was compiled by Arthur Erk, an accountant and business manager at Citrin Cooperman & Company. If offers a rare look at the actual finances of pop music, thanks to a detailed spreadsheet of annual publishing income Gottwald received from all his hits. For instance, in 2011 Gottwald made $1,038,521 from Kesha’s breakout hit “Tik Tok,” while he regularly netted hundreds of thousands — and the occasional million — from his array of Number Ones with Katy Perry (“Roar” appears to have earned him the princeliest annual sum, racking up $1,255,365.29 in 2014).
In total, according to Erk’s report, Gottwald generated over $77,790,000 in publishing income between 2006 and 2015.
Erk then used all that data to project Gottwald’s losses after Kesha accused him of sexual assault and emotional abuse in 2014. The estimated total, $46,253,672, comprises a bunch of different projected losses, including a supposed $3,85,000 Gottwald missed out on from not being able to produce six tracks on three Kesha albums, as well as $11,650,000 in potential losses from no longer working with Perry after her 2013 LP Prism (Erk said he was “informed that Katy Perry testified in this action that she could not engage Gottwald again as a producer as a result of Defendant’s accusations”).
It should be noted that Erk’s report is dated May 2019. And while it does include graphs that show Gottwald’s declining opportunities in music between 2015 and 2017, it does not take into account his not-so-subtle resurgence. Since 2019, he’s worked with artists like Kim Petras, DaBaby, the Kid Laroi, and, most notably, Doja Cat, co-writing her smashes “Kiss Me More” and “Say So.”
In response to Erk’s projections, Kesha hired her own financial expert to refute the claims, Louis Dudney. In her own report, Dudney cast doubt on the $46 million tally, suggesting that Erk “double count[ed]” the supposed losses related to no longer working with Kesha and Perry, and that Erk didn’t “adequately account for the substantial risks inherent in the music industry,” or that artists “may not want to work with Gottwald for reasons unrelated to the alleged defamatory statements.”
Dudney also claimed that Erk failed to consider that Gottwald’s success “was disproportionately dependent” on his frequent work with pop super-producer Max Martin. Dudney notes that more than half of Gottwald’s Top 50 songs from 2005 to 2017 were co-written or co-produced with Martin, and that Martin played a role on 70% of Gottwald’s Top 20 songs.