A Country a Week: Russia

Although Russia is one of the most promising countries for the music industry and economists alike, not much can be written about their music industry. In past years, most notably the 70’s and 80’s Russian musicians were known to use homemade amplifiers and guitars made out of different materials found around the house. This drastically changed as the iron curtain was removed and more recently, when Putin was put into power. Now, with increased access to online stores, musicians have a broader access to the musical supplies they crave. This has influenced Russian music to an enormous degree and now most artists are relying on mixers and loops to help them form one man bands. The biggest debate now is whether this is helping or hurting the creativity and soul in music.

Another brief issue in Russia is the rampant piracy of music. On August 1, 2013, Russian government enacted an anti-piracy law that allowed copyright owners to petition to shut down infringing websites. Many people were in favor of this bill, but some people questioned whether the wording was too broad. They feared that many sites would be shut down that simply linked to infringing websites. So far, very few websites have not conceded to removing the infringing content, and only “three out of fifty-six applications have led to blocking a website.

Vkontakte, a Russian version of Facebook, has begun to remove some of its user posted content due to this new legislation. For years this site has hosted a file sharing feature for users that has infamously been used as a means for users to share music illegally. They have begun policing this use more closely. In a recent court case against Soyuz, a Russian label, Vkontakte was found to be not responsible for its users content. The court ruled that it wasn’t possible for Vkontakte to police all of its users and remove infringing material. Vkontakte is however, attempting to create a legal and legitimate way for users to access music on their site. They are possibly looking to partner with an existing streaming or downloading company in order to move forward and away from potential further litigation. We have only to wait.

ITunes was introduced into Russia in 2012 and already accounts for a third of all online music sales.  This is a promising figure and shows that there is a potential for a legitimate market for music in Russia. How the labels will choose to harness this behemoth of a country, we have yet to see.

The number one song in Russia this week.

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