Now SoundExchange pulls out of Russia

US performance rights organization SoundExchange has become the latest music industry entity to cut ties with Russia.

SoundExchange CEO Michael Huppe announced the news to staff today (March 11) in a letter, seen by MBW.

In the letter, Huppe reveals that SoundExchange has terminated its agreement with the Russian Organization for Intellectual Property (VOIS).

Huppe writes that SoundExchange doesn’t “take this action lightly but believe it’s important to demonstrate our support for the people of Ukraine”.

He added: “Ultimately, the flow of performance royalties between SoundExchange and VOIS is not significant, but as a matter of principle, we believe this is the right course of action.”

In addition, SoundExchange says that it is making a $10,000 donation to the World Central Kitchen.

The DC-based organization is raising money to provide meals to Ukrainian families who have fled the country or are remaining there.

Sound Exchange’s announcement follows the news that Spotify is no longer taking any money out of Russia – via ads or subscribers.

Meanwhile, Kobalt Music Group and Downtown – have in the past 24 hours both confirmed that they are suspending business activity in/with Russia.

All three major music companies (Universal, Sony, and Warner) have also announced this week they are halting their own business activities in the market.

Additionally, the Paris-headquartered Believe tells MBW that it currently has no plans to suspend business activities in Russia. A company spokesperson told us that this was Believe’s strategy “for the moment”, but added that the firm is “monitoring the situation very closely”.

Elsewhere, the UK’s PRS For Music took action earlier this week, announcing that it had “formally suspended, with immediate effect, our 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”.

The umbrella group for music publishing collection societies – CISAC – has not suspended RAO from its global network of members, despite calls to do so from senior figures in the music publishing industry.

CISAC announced on Wednesday (March 9) that it was launching a support fund dedicated to helping the victims of the war in Ukraine – but once again stopped short at suspending RAO. The fund was approved by the CISAC Board.

You can read Michael Huppe’s letter in full below:


Dear team,

I know that many of us are watching the horrific events occurring in Ukraine and asking ourselves what we can do to support in this moment of need.

At SoundExchange, we have decided on two initial actions.

First, we have decided to terminate our agreement with the Russian Organization for Intellectual Property (VOIS). We do not take this action lightly but believe it’s important to demonstrate our support for the people of Ukraine. Ultimately, the flow of performance royalties between SoundExchange and VOIS is not significant, but as a matter of principle, we believe this is the right course of action.

In addition, SoundExchange is making a $10,000 donation to the World Central Kitchen, a DC-based organization that is raising money to provide fresh meals to Ukrainian families, whether they have fled their homeland or are remaining in the country. To learn more about the work of the World Central Kitchen, you can go to its website at: https://wck.org/.

It is difficult to fathom what is happening in Ukraine and in other places around the world, but I firmly believe that each of us can make a difference. I’m proud that SoundExchange, by taking these actions today, is speaking with a clear voice in saying that all people deserve to live in peace in a vibrant, free society.

Thank you for all you do.

Best,

MikeMusic Business Worldwide

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