Warner Music Group pulls out of Russia

Warner Music Group has suspended all operations in Russia, the company has confirmed Variety.

“Warner Music Group is suspending operations in Russia, including investment and project development, promotional and marketing activities, and manufacturing of all physical products,” according to a company statement. “We will continue to fulfill our agreed obligations to our people, artists and songwriters to the best of our ability as the situation evolves. We remain committed to supporting humanitarian relief efforts in the region.

The news comes less than an hour after Sony Music announced it was suspending operations in the country, and less than two days after Universal Music Group. The three main labels – Universal, Sony and Warner – have local labels and operations in Russia; all three companies have donated to relief efforts in Ukraine.

Warner Music is a publicly traded company, but was acquired in 2011 by Ukrainian-born entrepreneur Len Blavatnik, who is now a naturalized dual citizen of the US and UK. Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the company had developed a strong presence in Russia and last year acquired the Zhara Music label, renamed Atlantic Records Russia.

Early on Tuesday, UK performing rights organization PRS for Music said it had officially and immediately suspended its rights representation relationship with RAO, Russia’s music collecting society, “pending the confirmation of his separation from the Russian government and these individuals and companies”. on the sanctions lists. BMI in the US issued a similar statement this week: “BMI has suspended its copyright representation payments to RAO, Russia’s music collective management society. Additionally, we are working with CISAC on a broader effort that will help creators in Ukraine and surrounding areas, while providing humanitarian aid to those in desperate need.

CISAC, which is the governing body of all global collections management societies, launched a relief fund for Ukraine on Wednesday and, according to sources, continues to assess the status of Russian collections management organizations. Many in the publishing and songwriting community, including songwriter Ross Golan, have publicly called on collecting societies to stop doing business with Russia.

A representative of the French label and distributor Believe Music, which has a significant presence in the market and has 40 employees in the country, says Variety that it “has no intention of suspending its operations in Russia at this time but we are monitoring the situation very closely as it is constantly evolving”.

SIAE, the Italian performing rights organization, also suspended payments to RAO. Sources say a number of publishers in the US have unilaterally stopped issuing sync licenses that include Russia.

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