Some observers believe that Monday's moment in justice, when a New York Federal jury found the 54-year old R&B star guilty of all nine charges in a sextrafficking trial, will not be a significant event for his fans.
Jem Aswad (deputy music editor at Variety), who has been covering R. Kelly's story for over 20 years, said that "the lines have already been drawn." "The people who are going to listen R. Kelly's songs are still listening to them. "I don't believe a guilty verdict will change their minds."
Advocates still hope that the criminal conviction will lead to a moral reckoning.
Tarana Burke, the founder of #MeToo, knows how irresistible R. Kelly's music can be for those who dance to songs like "Ignition," but she said that people should think about the message it sends.
"This generation knows who R. Kelly really is. Burke stated that these young people have gathered the information that R. Kelly is a perpetrator. "And if it isn't possible to push past our personal desires and likes to dance to a song in order to send a message to these young girls and boys, then I'm going to draw a line.
"I don’t want to help someone who will cause such harm in my community. She continued, "I just urge people think about that." Is it worth it?
Kelly was able to avoid professional consequences despite decades of reports about sexual abuse of children and young women. These include his illegal marriage to R&B star Aaliyah in 1994 when she was only 15, and his 2002 arrest for sexual abuse and urinating upon a 14-year old girl.
His music was censored by streaming services, subject to boycotts and his #MeToo era saw it downgraded. Kelly's label dropped him, but the show is still widely accessible and attracts millions of streams every week.
Grammy winner and once called "King of R&B", he has seen a dozen albums go platinum or multiple platinum. His most popular songs include "I Believe I Can Fly" (his biggest hit) and "Bump N’ Grind," which were both explicit and romantic and very much in demand at weddings.
He has worked with a wide range of musicians, including Jay-Z, Lady Gaga and Whitney Houston.
As allegations grew over the past five year, his popularity plummeted. His three most recent songs that reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart were "Do What U Want" (a duet with Lady Gaga) and "PYD", which he co-wrote with Justin Bieber. He hasn’t had a hit reach The Hot 100 since 2013, despite having released two albums and multiple singles. His success has been greater on other charts.
According to MRC Data (formerly Nielsen Music), a data provider that powers Billboard’s charts, Kelly's airplay spins, audience, and digital sales dropped significantly between 2017-2021.
His streaming on-demand numbers, which averaged more than 6,000,000 per week during most of 2021, have remained roughly the same.
Apple Music and Spotify did not respond to Tuesday's questions about whether they would alter their use R. Kelly’s music on their platforms.
Spotify made this move before, but it was met with resistance.
After announcing a new policy regarding hate content and conduct in 2018, the service took his music out of playlists amid the momentum from the #MeToo movement. Spotify did not promote his music, although it was still available.
Many people pointed out that pop, R&B, and rock music history is overloaded with artists who sexually abused young girls. They also glorified it in their songs.
Phil Spector, the legendary producer, who is responsible for many classic hits, was convicted of murder.
Aswad stated that these lines of morality can be difficult to draw. Spotify was able to quickly figure this out. "You are looking at where you draw that line. Is it going to happen? What was the crime? A felony? What happens if someone steals a car?
However, he was rebuffed by Lifetime when it aired "Surviving R. Kelly" in early 2019. His RCA label was dropped and Lady Gaga apologised for her collaboration with him.
Aswad stated that Kelly's success was due to his fortune. People who had made money with Kelly were less likely to leave him.
However, his finances seem to be in serious decline. Crain's Chicago Business reported in 2011 that Kelly's suburban Chicago home was subject to a foreclosure for $2.9 million. It was then sold in 2013 for $950,000. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, he owed more than $4.8million to the IRS.
In 2018, he was forced from two Atlanta-area houses for owing more than $31,000. The following year, he told a judge that he could not pay $161,000 back in child support.
Kelly's audience is also getting older, so he's unlikely make new music. Kelly could be sentenced to a lengthy prison term and face additional prosecutions in other states.
Perhaps it's possible that only time can do what accusations, allegations, and boycotts cannot.
"I think it might get muted as generations go by because it will fade away into the background," Gail Mitchell, executive Director, R&B/Hip-Hop, Billboard Magazine. There will be a separation as more and younger generations become older. It will be a bookmark that can be accessed by people. The music will probably fade away.