Live Nation: We will not do business with Russia following Ukraine invasion

Michael Rapino, CEO & President, Live Nation Entertainment

The past week has seen multiple leisure and entertainment industries publicly freeze or cancel their business within Russia.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, football (soccer) global bodies FIFA and UEFA – under strong pressure from fans and individual players – have banned Russia’s clubs and its international team from tournaments.

In Hollywood, meanwhile, movie studios – including Warner Bros, the Walt Disney Co and Sony Pictures – have jointly agreed to halt the release of major new blockbuster movies in Russia.

This raises a key question: Will there be a similar response from the big-hitters of the global music industry?

In particular, to the widespread economic sanctions now being placed on Vladimir Putin and the country he presides over?

Will the music rights industry put a freeze, for example, on money coming in and out of Russia’s collection societies?

Could the three major music companies stop paying royalties out to artists in Russia – even if those artists have vocally opposed Putin’s military attack on Ukraine?

These are complicated questions.

One giant of the music business has now taken decisive action: Live Nation.

In a statement issued to media today (March 2), the live music company said: “Live Nation joins the world in strongly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We will not promote shows in Russia, and we will not do business with Russia.”

“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.”

Individual artists including Green Day have cancelled shows in Russia in the wake of the country’s Ukraine invasion.

Earlier this week, activist shareholder and billionaire, Bill Ackman, put forward his strong views on how he believes the US should respond to Russia’s invasion.

Ackman leads Pershing Square Holdings, which acquired (alongside its affiliates) 10% of Universal Music Group last year, for a combined total of USD $3.95 billion.

In a lengthy series of tweets on Monday (February 28), US-born Ackman asked his country’s President, Joe Biden: “[Is] there a point at which we say it is un-American to sit back and watch this transpire?”

Added Ackman: “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? What precedent are we continuing to set by allowing this to play out?”

Continued Ackman: “None of us wants to put American lives at risk. And yes it is easy for me to say with no children in the military. But our lives are already at risk if Putin gets his way. The [US Navy Seals] and Americans in uniform I know would want to be there to stop this madness.

“The defense of Ukraine is a just war. It is not about oil or money. It is about right and wrong, and those are the wars that we should fight. And if we take the long-term view and punish madmen for their actions, we can deter their larger ambitions.”

Pershing Square made its 10% acquisition of Universal in two parts, both of which placed an enterprise value on UMG of EUR €35 billion.

Following those agreements, UMG started trading on the Euronext in Amsterdam. UMG currently has a €36.37 billion market cap on the Euronext.Music Business Worldwide