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Music marketing focus: Russia and Eastern Europe

The final day of Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit Global online conference last week started with a session exploring trends in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Vladimir Yurchenko, international marketing manager at Warner Music Group, talked about Russia, noting that it is one of the five fastest growing music markets in the world.

“Right now, we are the sixteenth market overall,” he said, referring to the IFPI’s global rankings. “But seeing how fast we are growing it could be a top 10 market in four or even three years. And this growth happened because of streaming, first and foremost.”

Yurchenko said that 78% of the 146.7 million Russian population have mobile internet access, and while fewer than 10% have premium music streaming subscriptions, that is growing fast. “The potential for growth is really huge.”

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vKontakte says it has 1.2m paying subscribers in Russia

It’s not so long since Russian social network vKontakte was one of the primary villains for music rightsholders, on account of its platform being a thriving repository of user-uploaded, unlicensed music. But after signing deals and going legit a year ago, the complaints have died down. Now we have a milestone to track VK’s progress in building a legal music business.

The company says it now has 1.5 million subscribers to its music-streaming service, although that’s 1.2 million people paying for it, and a further 300,000 currently on its free trial, according to Billboard. That puts it some distance ahead of Apple Music (600,000 subscribers in Russia, reportedly) as well as Yandex Music (250,000) and Google Play Music (100,000).

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vKontakte gets indies licensed through Merlin deal

Russian social network vKontakte has continued its move towards licensed-music legitimacy, thanks to a new deal covering Merlin’s roster of independent labels.

The agreement, brokered through United Media Agency, covers the audio AND video content from Merlin’s members, and is with vKontakte’s parent company – meaning the catalogue will also be made available through social networks Odnoklassniki and MyWorld.

It’s vKontakte that’s the most interesting angle here though. “To develop the licensed online music market within Russia it is vital that VKontakte, Odnoklassniki and MyWorld can meet consumer demand and supply the most comprehensive repertoire of catalogue,” said VK CEO Boris Dobrodeev in a statement.

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vKontakte doesn’t want to be called a ‘piracy’ site

Fresh from signing a licensing deal with Universal Music to complete its set of the major labels, Russian social network vKontakte is hitting back at any suggestions the catalogue of user-uploaded music on its service make it a piracy site.

“The term “piracy” is not applicable to User Generated Content (UGC) services. Our position, which we have successfully defended in legal disputes, is that we do not distribute pirate content,” claimed CEO Boris Dobrodeyev in an interview with TorrentFreak, although the journalist went on to use the ‘P’ word again, sparking this response.