WAR DRUMS

These are the major music acts canceling shows in Russia

Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong performing in the US.
Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong performing in the US.
Image: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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The music industry is mirroring the economic sanctions that countries around the world are levying against Russia due to its military action in Ukraine. In the past week, several major acts including Green Day, Eric Clapton, Imagine Dragons, and others have canceled upcoming shows in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.

“In light of recent events, we’re sad to announce our Russia and Ukraine shows are canceled until further notice,” Imagine Dragons posted on its Facebook page. “Our thoughts are with Ukraine and all others suffering from this needless war.”

Similarly, Green Day posted a message canceling its Moscow date. “With heavy hearts, in light of current events we feel it is necessary to cancel our upcoming show in Moscow,” the band posted on its Instagram page. “We are aware that this moment is not about stadium rock shows, it’s much bigger than that.” One of Russia’s most popular rap artists, Oxxxymiron, also canceled several sold-out shows in Russia in support of Ukraine. 

Some artists are sidestepping the politics of the conflict

While some of the cancelations are framed as direct political statements against Russia, others, such as Clapton’s, cite “logistical and travel challenges” as the reason for removing the dates.

Other artists slated to appear in Russia, including Jethro Tull and Pixies, had Russia dates scheduled that no longer appear on their websites, without explanation. Otherwise, a number of artists are still officially scheduled to perform in Russia in the coming months. 

*The artist was scheduled to perform, but the dates no longer appear on their websites. 

The entertainment industry throws its support behind Ukraine

Last weekend, Saturday Night Live replaced its normal politically-themed cold open skit with a musical performance by the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York singing “Prayer for Ukraine.” Other sectors of the entertainment industry have also added support for Ukraine through donations and public messages during the recent Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The Russian show cancelations by musicians are particularly noteworthy given the two-year dip in revenue experienced by many performers due to widespread pandemic lockdowns that are only now beginning to ease.

While many content creators managed to benefit from streaming and virtual interactions during the pandemic, for musicians, profits from streaming services like Spotify represent a minor portion of their overall revenue. The majority of successful artists still rely on touring to earn the majority of their income.