Amid the war in Ukraine, a Disney Music Group exec has warned that the absence of payments from the Russian Authors’ Society (RAO) and the Ukrainian Agency of Copyright and Related Rights (UACRR) represents “a big blow for us.”
Peter Jansson, who since 2014 has served as senior manager of international music publishing within Disney Music Group, acknowledged the far-reaching financial effects of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in a message to his “fellow Music Publishers,” according to a copy of the comments that is circulating on social media.
“As the disaster between Russia and Ukraine escalates, I wanted to give a heads up to all my fellow Music Publishers on the list (and this probably extends to all labels as well),” wrote Jansson. “Now that the U.S. and the U.E. [Unión Europea] have implemented SWIFT banking sanctions against these two countries, don’t expect to see any monies coming from the Russian society (RAO) or the Ukrainian society (UACRR) any time soon in the foreseeable future, including reciprocal payments to U.S. PROs.
“This is a big blow for us at Disney, as this is most apparent with ENCANTO, as all the songs from the movie have been translated and released in Russian and Ukrainian, and we have been noticing quite a lot of UGC [user-generated content] uploads on YouTube in both these languages given the extreme popularity of these songs.”
(The verified artist profile for “Encanto – Cast” boasts a staggering 19.54 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and the official YouTube uploads of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” and “Surface Pressure” have 280 million views and 165 million views, respectively.)
“We have seen growing revenues from both Russia and Ukraine over the past two years,” Jansson’s message proceeds, “but this may well eradicate all of this growth. We hope that UACRR will still exist after the outcome of this, as they have been a good partner for us in the past several years.”
Needless to say, the music-industry impact of the war between Russia and Ukraine is extending far beyond a likely lack of payments from the RAO and the UACRR.
With peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian representatives having reportedly failed to deliver material progress towards an agreement, acts including Green Day and AJR have pulled the plug on scheduled tour stops in Russia. Meanwhile, Atlantic Records Russia – which Warner Music established last year – has “indefinitely” postponed all releases, according to a translation of a Russian-language social-media post from the Moscow-headquartered label.
Russia-based individuals won’t be able to participate in Eurovision 2022, organizers recently announced. The effects of the invasion of Ukraine have also reached the classical-music space, and Bill Ackman, whose Pershing Square owns 10 percent of Universal Music Group, is calling for more direct U.S. involvement in the conflict.
“@POTUS is there a point at which we say it is un-American to sit back and watch this transpire?” Ackman penned in a series of messages published to social media. “We are fighting an economic war with Russia. We are supplying weapons and intelligence with our allies, and the Ukrainians are putting up an incredible fight. The Russian army has shown itself to be weak and lacking morale. Their air force can’t achieve air superiority. Putin is rallying the nuclear saber as he gets more desperate. What if? Do we wait for him to kill millions before we intervene?”
Several social-media users have responded to the lengthy post by calling on Ackman to join the war effort – Ukraine government officials previously entreated foreign volunteers to fight alongside their troops – or support the cause financially. Ackman has a net worth of $3.1 billion, according to Forbes.