Allegations Against Ryan Adams May Break Your Heart, But Here's Why We Need To Stop Downloading Abusers' Music

Photo: Flickr CC/Julio Enriquez
What Was Ryan Adams Accused Of? Why I Believe Allegations Of Abuse & An Inappropriate Relationship With A Minor

I love Ryan Adams.

Wait, let me correct that—I used to love Ryan Adams. Turns out, yet another one of my favorite artists has credible abuse allegations against him.

The New York Times reports that Adams, a popular Alt-Country singer, songwriter, and music producer has been using his position in the music industry to sexually prey on hopeful up-and-coming female musicians. In addition, his ex-wife, Mandy Moore, accuses Adams of psychological abuse during their marriage, saying his controlling behavior prevented her from growing her musical career at a pivotal time in her life, her mid-20s.

But it's not just those two.

Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers claims she was only 20 years old when she began a relationship with Adams, then 40 and a superstar of their musical genre. He would eventually use that unequal power dynamic against her when she tried to break it off. He invited the up-and-comer to open for him on his next tour, the kind of opportunity that can single-handedly make a musician's career.

"[In} the weeks that followed, Adams’s attention turned obsessive and emotionally abusive," Bridgers said.

"He began barraging her with texts, insisting that she prove her whereabouts, or leave social situations to have phone sex, and threatening suicide if she didn’t reply immediately."

RELATED: 21 Signs You're In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Hearing that Ryan Adams was a jerk in abusive relationships is heartbreaking for those of us who have followed Adams's career through the years. But it gets worse.

Adams also reportedly preyed on at least one underage female musician who was only 15 years old when they began communicating.

The girl, who is now 20 and identified only as "Ava", reports that Adams began their relationship via social media, supporting her talent for playing bass and encouraging her to start a band and record an album, which he offered to produce.

Reportedly, Adams's text messages grew more sexually explicit, despite the fact that he knew she was young. In the text messages reviewed by The Times, Adams said he could get in big trouble for their conversations.

He even said, “If people knew they would say I was like R Kelley lol" [sic].

R. Kelly, the R&B star most famous for his chart-topping song "I Believe I Can Fly", has been accused of abuse ranging from urinating on a teenage girl during sex to keeping a harem of women as sex slaves.

Recent Lifetime documentary called Surviving R. Kelly brought these stories into the mainstream, but victims' advocates have been telling this story for years. He married singer Aaliyah when she was only 15 years old, and the media hardly batted an eye.

RELATED: What Happened In The R. Kelly Sex Cult? 7 New Details From The R. Kelly Sexual Assault Accuser

Perhaps it was R. Kelly's ability to evade consequences for his reported abuse that helped empower Adams to behave like such a monster.

After all, The Times reports that Adams communicated with his victims via text and direct messages, making it easy for The New York Times (and the cops, theoretically) to verify that these accusations are legitimate.

Adams must have felt pretty confident that if he were caught sexting with a teenager, his fans would forgive him.

And for the record, while Adams has tweeted that he has never sexually pursued someone he knew to be underage, The Times has proof that he was, at the very least, suspicious that she was a minor.

"In response to Adams’s repeated pleas that she tell him she was 18," the article continues, “'You have to convince me,' [Adams] wrote ... Sometimes he asked to see identification — 'in the hottest way that has ever been done Lol.' She never showed him any ID."

These accusations are disturbing, and it doesn't require being a Ryan Adams fan to be disgusted by his reported behavior.

But as a fan, as someone who has seen Adams perform live and anxiously awaited every album drop for almost two decades, it's a double punch to the gut.

I haven't had to say goodbye to too many of my favorites, despite the success of the #MeToo movement in calling out abusers and bringing some to justice.

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RELATED: 7 Ways Men Can Join The #MeToo Movement (Without Drowning Out Women's Voices)

I don't care about R. Kelly, I'm not in mourning over Woody Allen, and as much as I used to like Louis CK, I don't feel any sort of absence in my life without his comedy.

But Ryan Adams is different. His music occupies about 25 percent of any playlist on my Spotify account. Adams leads the charge into my heart when it comes to melancholy music, and his hard-driving rock songs dominate my exercise playlist, accompanying me on hundreds and hundreds of miles running trails in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Today I will delete them all.

Some people may argue that the music is separate from the musician and that you can still enjoy Ryan Adams's music, but I disagree. Not only because I will feel sick to my stomach every time I hear his voice from now on, but I also know that every time I download an album or play a song on Spotify or any other streaming music service, I am giving some of my hard-earned money to an abuser. I just can't do that.

Above all, I wish the story about Ryan Adams weren't true.

Not because I want to go back to listening to Ryan Adams, but because I wish he had been the man we believed him to be. I wish he had actually been the famous singer who helped propel talented young women into the spotlight, purely because it was the right thing to do.

I wish he had been a good man, because then he wouldn't have hurt a teenage girl, or his wife, or Phoebe Bridgers or any of the other women he's reported to have harmed.

But it seems like that's who he is.

So goodbye, Ryan Adams, and good riddance.

RELATED: How To Protect Your Son From Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer, editor, and media critic whose work has appeared in publications like Time, Vox, Redbook, Babble, Cosmopolitan, and BuzzFeed. For more, follow her on Twitter.