Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and FUGA Announce Russia Exits Amid Ukraine Conflict

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Moscow, Russia. Photo Credit: Astemir Almov

Sony Music Entertainment (SME), Warner Music Group (WMG), and Downtown’s FUGA have joined Universal Music Group, Live Nation, Spotify, PRS for Music, and others in suspending operations in Russia.

Sony Music, Warner Music, and FUGA announced their decisions today, after companies such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks earlier this week likewise exited the country of over 144 million residents in response to the Ukraine invasion.

Beginning with Warner Music Group (NASDAQ: WMG), which established Atlantic Records Russia in Moscow last year, a spokesperson made clear in a statement that the major label has paused manufacturing, promotional efforts, and new releases in the European nation.

“Warner Music Group is suspending operations in Russia, including investments in and development of projects, promotional and marketing activities, and manufacturing of all physical products,” the WMG spokesperson said. “We will continue to fulfill our agreed upon obligations to our people, artists, and songwriters as best we can as the situation unfolds. We remain committed to supporting the humanitarian relief efforts in the region.”

Sony Music also informed the public of its withdrawal from Russia in a brief statement, indicating: “Sony Music Group calls for peace in Ukraine and an end to the violence. We have suspended operations in Russia and will continue our support of global humanitarian relief efforts to aid victims in need.”

Meanwhile, Downtown-owned distributor FUGA – an inaugural member (along with WMG and others) of the Verifi Rights Data Alliance, which launched last month – detailed its own Russia pullout in an email that CEO Pieter van Rijn sent to clients.

“Our first priority is to ensure the safety of our colleagues and their families in Ukraine,” the message reads in part. “Since the outbreak of the conflict, we have been in constant communication with them and are providing support wherever we can. Furthermore, our team around the world has been donating to the Red Cross and Unicef, with FUGA matching their kind donations.

“As of 12pm CET on Thursday, March 10th, FUGA will suspend delivering any new music from our FUGA Aggregation License to the following digital service providers and content platforms: Yandex, VKontakte (delivered via UMA), and Zvooq/Sberzvuk. For the time being, we have not taken any measures to remove content already live on these services delivered via the FUGA Aggregation license,” the document continues.

Lastly, CISAC yesterday unveiled a “solidarity fund,” Creators for Ukraine, but it doesn’t appear that the Paris-headquartered organization has cut ties with the Russian Authors’ Society (RAO), which is still listed in CISAC’s “member directory.”