The music world’s most powerful companies — the three major record conglomerates, and the touring giant Live Nation — are cutting ties with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, and artists like Green Day and AJR have canceled concerts in Russia.
On Thursday, Sony and Warner Music both announced — within minutes of each other — that they were suspending operations in Russia. Their statements came two days after Universal Music, the largest conglomerate, said that it was shuttering its offices in Russia and ceasing to do business there.
Last week, Live Nation said: “We will not promote shows in Russia, and we will not do business with Russia. We’re in the process of reviewing our vendors so we can cease work with any and all Russian-based suppliers.”
Apple has paused the sale of its products in Russia, and said it was disabling some features of its maps app to protect Ukrainian citizens. Spotify’s chief financial officer, Paul Vogel, said at an investor conference on Wednesday that the company had suspended the premium, or paid tier of its streaming service there, which would result in the loss of about 1.5 million paying accounts.
But Vogel said that Spotify would continue to operate its free service in Russia, to be an outlet for “non-propaganda information” through the podcasts it hosts. “We think it’s really important that information is still flowing there,” he said. Last week Spotify closed its Russian office and said it was removing content by the Kremlin-backed news outlets RT and Sputnik, as have Facebook, TikTok and other tech platforms.
The corporate moves followed a slew of announcements from artists canceling scheduled tour dates in Russia and Ukraine. Green Day was to have played at Spartak Stadium in Moscow on May 29, but wrote on Instagram that it wouldn’t make the trip “in light of current events.” My Chemical Romance, Björk, Iron Maiden, Louis Tomlinson, the Killers, Iggy Pop, AJR and Franz Ferdinand have all pulled out of shows.
Russia, despite its size, is a small market for music. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a global trade group, Russia generated just under $200 million in recorded music revenues in 2020, making it the 16th most valuable territory in the world, behind Mexico and Sweden. But it has been seen as an important growth area and, increasingly, a destination for tours.