Executives at Warner Music Russia, home to artists such as Ed Sheeran and Dua Lipa, and French label Believe have continued to try to negotiate deals despite the suspension of commerce following the invasion of Ukraine, according to the Guardian.
A marketing email sent by a top executive at ADA Russia, which is based in Warner Music’s offices and whose employees have Warner Music email addresses, attempted to drum up business with local labels nearly a month after its parent company announced the suspension of all operations in Russia in March.
Warner Music, which is worth $15 billion (£13 billion) and is owned by Sir Leonard Blavatnik, a Ukrainian-born billionaire with US and UK citizenship, owns ADA Russia, which works with local independent labels and artists such as Zemfira and Gorky Park. Clients of the larger ADA enterprise include YouTuber and rapper KSI.
The email, which was obtained by the Guardian in April, sought to negotiate “possible cooperation,” proposing premium prices for a variety of music services and listing a number of Russian artists that the company already represents.
The section, which names itself Warner Music Russia’s distribution department, does not collaborate with major international musicians signed to the world’s third-largest record label.
“I would want to point out that our streaming rates are significantly greater, we can conduct vinyl releases, and we offer comprehensive analytics,” the CEO wrote in an email. “Everything is ready, and we’d like to show you some instances.” We would like to meet with you in person to discuss all of the options and potential collaboration.”
After the February invasion of Ukraine, Warner Music Group said on March 10 that it was “suspending operations in Russia, including investments in and development of projects, promotional and marketing efforts, and manufacturing of all physical items.”
A Warner Music Group representative stated that the executive should not have been conducting business in Russia and that an investigation had been begun.
“We ceased business in Russia in March,” he explained. “Although this email is over five months old, it should not have been sent. We’re investigating what happened, and we’ve also reminded our local team of the terms of our suspension.” Despite the music executive’s infringement, it is not believed that the Russian firm is breaking Warner Music’s standards on a daily basis.
However, the French music group Believe, which has collaborated with artists such as Slayer and La Roux, is continuing to operate on a much larger scale in Russia, including payments to a local streaming service owned until recently by the country’s largest lender, Sberbank, which is sanctioned by the UK, EU, and US. Following the invasion of Ukraine, Believe, one of France’s largest tech companies, valued at more than €800 million (£702 million) on the Paris Stock Exchange, advised Russian partners on how to continue working around sanctions while also stating that it remained in full compliance with the sanctions.
Following an investigation by the Guardian, the company stated that it had ceased hiring and new investment in Russia, as well as suspending activities such as releasing music from independent artists who use its services, as well as terminating relationships with local labels and artists with whom it works directly under international sanctions. Denis Gorshkov, the managing director of Believe’s Russia branch, has said that he is still trying to sign partnerships with artists and for new catalogues.
The Guardian obtained an email that included a follow-up on a €3 million “new offer” with a Russian label to “monetise fresh releases and the back catalogue.” The business stated that this does not violate its March vow because it is a new arrangement with an existing partner, not a new deal.
“Believe has pledged for peace and took the decision to continue operating in the Russian market with its local consumers, artists, and partners in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations,” a spokeswoman for Believe stated. “Believe maintains all of its operations in Russia in order to assist its artists and labels, preserve the safety of its people, and ensure access to music production and distribution.” Believe’s objective will always be to safeguard creation, artists, music, and its people around the world, as well as to encourage both teams and individuals.”
- Despite a business halt, the Warner Music branch is looking for deals in Russia
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