As Billboard reports, Sony Music Group said in a statement that it had “made the decision to exit the Russian marketplace completely and transfer the Russian company and its local roster to local management. As the war continues to have a devastating humanitarian impact in Ukraine, and sanctions on Russia continue to increase, we can no longer maintain a presence in Russia, effective immediately.”
Former Sony Music Russia managing director Arina Dmitrieva will reportedly take control over the label’s interests, and the new company will only work with locally signed acts. Sony Music has asked Russian streaming services to take down any releases still available in the country; the label has not added any new music from its catalog to those services since March.
UPDATE 3/10: Sony Music Group announced Thursday that they have suspended all of their operations in Russia following the country’s invasion in Ukraine. “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,” the label said in a statement. Sony Music staffers in Russia will continue to receive salary during the label’s suspension.
Warner Music Group followed soon after. “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 label said in a statement. “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.”
“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,” the company said in a statement. “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.”
Sources told Variety that employees in Russia will continue to receive salaries for an undetermined time. A similar decision was made by McDonald’s, who temporarily shuttered its 850 locations in Russia, but will continue to pay its employees. Reps for Sony and Warner Music did not immediately reply to requests for comment, but an industry source tells Rolling Stone that Sony plans to make a similar announcement in the next day or two.
Universal Music Group’s announcement follows a host of music-related organizations ceasing operations in the region. Last week, Live Nation pulled out of doing business in Russia. “We will not promote shows in Russia, and we will not do business with Russia,” Live Nation told Rolling Stone in a statement. Spotify said it was closing its Russia offices indefinitely, and venue developer Oak View Group — which is also the parent company of live music trade publication Pollstar — announced that it would not do business with Russia, nor would it serve Russian brands at its venues. Apple also said it was pausing selling its products in the country.
Meanwhile, performing rights organizations are also severing ties with Russia. On Tuesday, the U.K.’s performing rights organization, PRS for Music, said in a statement that it was suspending 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 also made a similar statement: “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.”
This story was updated 9/72/22 at 3:44 p.m. ET after Sony Music announced it was ending label operations in Russia.