As more and more companies have cut ties with Russia in the wake of the country’s invasion of Ukraine, many have wondered why more music companies have not done the same.
Early Tuesday, the U.K.’s performing rights organization, PRS for Music, said it has formally and immediately suspended its rights representation relationship with RAO, the Russian collecting society for musical works,
“pending confirmation of its separation from the Russian Government and those individuals and companies on the sanctions lists.
“We are also working with CISAC to consider the ongoing membership of Russian societies in the global network. It is not our desire to punish the Russian composer, songwriter and publisher communities who support peace, and we will work with the global community to identify opportunities to amplify the voices of protest.
“We will be contacting all our members based in the Ukraine to offer our support in their time of need and are working with PRS Members’ Fund to make financial support available to them.”
BMI in the U.S. made a similar statement this week: “BMI has suspended its copyright representation payments to RAO, the Russian collection society for musical works. Additionally, we are working with CISAC on a broader effort that will help benefit creators in the Ukraine and surrounding areas, while also providing humanitarian aid to those who are so desperately in need.”
The IMPF issued a statement on Monday calling for CISAC to immediately suspend RAO.
While CISAC, which is the governing body of all global collection societies, has made no comment on except for a statement of support toward Ukraine, sources say a meeting will be taking place Wednesday. Many in the publishing and songwriter community, including songwriter Ross Golan, have publicly called for collection societies to stop doing business with Russia.
Sources in the publishing community tell Variety that they are largely waiting for CISAC to make its decision and move unitlaterally.
SIAE, the Italian performing rights organization, also has suspended payments to RAO. Sources say a number of publishers in the US have unilaterally stopped issuing sync licenses that include Russia.
Similarly, all three majors have offices and staff in Russia, but are said to be weighing whether or not it is more harmful to close the offices, fire the staff and drop the artists than to continue in a sort of holding pattern. The three companies have made donations to Ukraine relief efforts.
Variety will have more on the situation as it develops.