As grim as things are going to get economically for the people of Russia in the coming weeks, months, and years, the dark times are already upon the country where arts and culture are concerned.
Just as world leaders have been quick to turn on the country in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, so has everyone from musicians to streaming services to concert promoters.
Spotify yesterday announced that it is shuttering its office in Russia indefinitely, and taking immediate efforts to remove all content on the platform that has ties to the Kremlin-backed outlets like Sputnik and RT. last summer Putin introduced legislation where all companies with over 500,000 daily users have to either open offices in Russia, or face major restrictions, including possible bans. He's now got what he wanted with both the opening and the closure of the Spotify offices.
The streaming giant missed a golden opportunity, however, to instantly turn everyone under 30 against Putin by stopping short or kicking every user with a Russian IP address off the service. Those living in Moscow will still be able to stream the best of Toby Keith, Ted Nugent, Kid Rock, and Machine Gun Kelly.
Pledging to continue to support its Russian employees, Spotify also promised to match donations from its other workers two-to-one, with money going to support local humanitarian efforts.
“We are exploring additional steps that we can take and will continue to do what is in the best interest of our employees and our listeners,” Spotify said in a statement.
Behemoth concert production company Live Nation has announced that it will no longer do business in Russia.
“Live Nation joins the world in strongly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” the company said in a new release. “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.”
That’s bad news for anyone hoping to see Halsey, Dua Lipa, Kanye West, or Paul McCartney in Moscow anytime soon. But it’s also a possible blessing for those who might have had tickets to see Billy Joel’s Relive the Russia Magic tour this summer.
There’s been a stampede of artists cancelling shows in Russia this 2020. The Killers and Iggy Pop have pulled the plug on appearances at the Park Live festival in Moscow this summer. In a Twitter post, Pop said “In light of current events, this is necessary. Our thoughts are with the Ukrainians and all the brave people who oppose this violence and seek peace. #StandingWithUkraine”.
Cave took to social media with “Our thoughts and love go out to the brave people of Ukraine, their heroic leader, and all those suffering from this senseless war. Ukraine, we stand with you, and with all those in Russia who oppose this brutal act, and we pray that this madness is brought to a close soon.”
Yungblud Tweeted: "Everyone deserves to be the creator of their own destiny, rather than having it forced upon them by acts of war and aggression."
Franz Ferdinand singer Alex Kapranos explained his band’s decision with a series of Tweets that included “We are cancelling our Russian shows that are scheduled for this summer. The only reason for this is the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian state”. The group also took pains to point out that it blames Putin for the war, not its Russian fans.
“We love Russia,” Kapranos posted on Twitter. “This great country has inspired our band through its art and literature and since we first played there seventeen years ago, we have built a rich and deep relationship with our Russian fans.”
He then continued with, “Since Thursday morning, we have spoken to many of our friends in Russia via social media and have encountered unanimous opposition to this violence and solidarity with our Ukrainian friends. We know you see the madness of your country’s leadership. We know you do not want war.”
The disgust with Putin's war has also included musicians standing up within Russia. Wildly popular Russian rapper Oxxxymiron cancelled six sold-out shows, stating, “I cannot entertain you when Russian missiles are falling on Ukraine—when residents of Kyiv are forced to hide in basements and in the metro, while people are dying.”
The pop-music world isn’t the only one treating Russia like the biggest pariah this side of Adolf Hitler, Ivan the Terrible, and Jeffrey Epstein. In recent days the United Kingdom’s Royal Opera House has torpedoed a summer residency by Moscow’s iconic Bolshoi Ballet, and New York’s famed Metropolitan Opera has announced it won’t host or work with pro-Putin artists or organizations.