Universal Music Group has suspended all of its operations in Russia, the company has confirmed to Variety.
“Effective immediately, we are suspending all operations in Russia and closing our offices there. We urge an end to the violence in Ukraine as soon as possible. We are adhering to international sanctions and, along with our employees and artists, have been working with groups from a range of countries (including the U.S., U.K., Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Czech Republic and Hungary) to support humanitarian relief efforts to bring urgent aid to refugees in the region.”
A source tells Variety that the company’s staffers will continue to receive their salaries for an undetermined time, although artists will presumably see most if not all of their recording activity paused.
All three major labels — Universal, Sony and Warner — have local labels and operations in Russia; while reps for Sony and Warner did not immediately have a comment, sources say both companies are likely to announce decisions about their status in the country within 24-48 hours. The three companies all have made donations to Ukraine relief efforts.
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.” 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.”
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 music-publishing community tell Variety that they are largely waiting for CISAC to make its decision and move unilaterally.
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