Russian Live Industry Looks to Band Together and Self-Regulate
Promoters' biggest problem is the fact that artists' fees are nominated in US dollars or Euros, and tickets are sold in rubles, and rising prices in accordance with the exchange rates would make many shows unaffordable.
"Ticket prices have gone up by about 20 percent to 30 percent over the last couple of years," Dmitry Zaretsky, general director of promoter Pop Farm, told Billboard, adding that in this economic situation, this is just about as high as promoters could go.
Tickets for shows by the likes of Lana Del Rey and Red Hot Chili Peppers, scheduled for later this year, currently sell at 4,000 rubles to 8,000 rubles (roughly $50 to $100).
Last year, promoters already had a hard time staging shows by Western acts after the ruble took a major plunge in the second half of 2014. While the ruble partly rebounded by the summer of 2015, giving promoters reason for cautious optimism, the current devaluation is sharper and, against the backdrop of a major economic downturn, the ruble's recovery may be a distant prospect.
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"We are nervously following the exchange rates and trying to negotiate with artists -- who don't care about our problems," Ratnikov said. "Many would rather remove Russia from their tour schedules than agree to lower fees."
The situation could give a boost to local acts, who don't demand hard-currency-nominated fees, but promoters say that is not the case. "Import substitution in the live industry isn't possible," Alexei Potapov, general director of Spika concert agency, told Billboard, referring to the government's strategy to boost consumption of local products rather than imports.
"There are two scenes, the local scene and the foreign scene," he explained. "Fans of Judas Priest will never go to a show by [local veteran pop singer] Valery Leontyev just because Judas Priest isn’t coming to their city."