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Russian industry pleads for moratorium on refunds

The Russian live industry is pleading for a moratorium on ticket refunds, as concerts and festivals are cancelled en masse.

Green Day, Imagine Dragons, Louis Tomlinson, Yungblud, Franz Ferdinand, Iggy Pop, The Killers, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Bring Me the Horizon are among the artists that have pulled out of performances due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Association of Concert, Theater and Ticketing Organisations (KTiBO), which represents more than 20 of the biggest players in Russia, is proposing a moratorium on ticket refunds to prevent “the collapse of the industry”.

The association wants refunds to be frozen for events scheduled from 9th February 2022 to 3rd September 2023, provided they are/were cancelled or postponed before 6th January 2023.

“Due to circumstances beyond the control of the Russian organisers, such companies fell under the consequences of restrictive economic measures (sanctions) imposed by foreign states against the Russian Federation, including against banks, and do not have the opportunity to receive a refund of advances paid under transactions on time, established by the respective contracts,” it wrote in a letter to the chairman of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation Nabiullina E.S. and the head of the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation Egorov D.V.

Semyon Galperin, producer, art director and talent buyer for live music venue Tele-Club in Yekaterinburg previously pointed out that the issue of refunds is further complicated by the current sanctions on Russia.

“We will have to refund ticket buyers, but some of the money is already in agencies’ bank accounts, and they won’t be able to send that back – as far as I understand – because most Russian banks will be under severe sanctions.

“Some of the money is already in agencies’ bank accounts, and they won’t be able to send that back”

“So the international part of the business will suffer terrible losses, which will probably make a lot of leading Russian companies either bankrupt or severely in debt…

“There is also this strange question about how we can find some options to rebate ticket fees to customers because of the blocked financial system.”

The issue is being felt by individual promoters across the country including Moscow-based concert agency Pop Farm, which says that at one point “tens of thousands of people” contacted them for ticket refunds.

The promoter has cancelled all of its upcoming live music events including concerts with Foals, Twenty-One Pilots, Pixies, Michael Kiwanuka and Alt-J, as well as its June festival Pain.

“We physically don’t have time to process all the return requests,” reads a post on Pop Farm’s Facebook page. “We need a few days off to figure out how to proceed, so please be patient – returns will take longer than before…”

“We don’t know what will happen to the concerts next,” reads the post. “We don’t know (and no one knows) what will happen next.”

Elsewhere, Moscow-based festival Park Live is also asking fans to be patient during the refund process, as the event continues to shed international acts.

Placebo, My Chemical Romance, Slipknot, Biffy Clyro and Iggy Pop are among the artists that have disappeared from the line-up.


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Pop Farm to present first Russian showcase at IFF

Bol Festival is the biggest festival of independent music in Russia, based in Moscow and co-promoted by the Pop Farm concert agency and Russian indie music promoter Stefan Kazaryan.

Started five years ago as a one-day, one-stage event with ten acts on the line-up, this year’s edition grew to three days (5–7 July) and seven stages, hosting not only a great range of Russian musicians but also loads of international acts – the Good, the Bad and the Queen, Death Grips, Sophie, Warmduscher, Black Midi, Fontaines DC and Algiers – and a separate programme for modern theatre, a wide-reaching educational programme and a stand-up comedy stage.

At IFF, Pop Farm will present the highlights of the Russian acts from this year’s festival: emo-punk trio Pasosh, daring ironic experimentalists Inturist and electronic hip-hop duo with vibrant female vocals Aigel.

Pasosh is a Russian emo-punk band from Moscow, founded by Petar Martic and Kirill Gorodniy after playing in rap-duo Prigay Kiska. It currently consists of lead singer and bassist Petar Martic, guitarist Kirill Gorodniy and drummer Grisha Drach.

Starting in 2015, the band performed in small venues around Moscow and did a couple of tours. Today, Pasosh is the one of the biggest underground Russian bands, the symbol of youth and coming of age. Themes of their songs vary from parties, day-to-day life in Russia, freedom of mind and being a small man in a big world.

At IFF, Pop Farm will present the highlights of the Russian acts from this year’s Bol Festival

Inturist is the most unpredictable musical project in Moscow. It looks into the deep abyss of everyday life, takes out random items and gives them infernal properties –immersing you into a trance equal to daily machine work or to attempts to call the customer support of your bank; and deceives, as the weather forecast in the Russian Far East.

At the heart of Inturist’s approach are spontaneous creative solutions and improvisation collected in some semblance of a musical performance, viewed by visitors of festivals SKIF, Tallinn Music Week, BOL, Garnir, the parties of Arma 17 and many other impossibly trendy events.

Aigel is the poetry of Aigel Gaisina laid to the foundation of electronic hip hop of Ilya Baramia. It is sometimes hard, sometimes hypnotic, free from the most unpleasant genre cliches and generally contradicting mainstream hip hop.

In August Aigel released their third studio album, Eden – an autobiographical work, about home, written in continuous travel.

Pop Farm’s Bol Festival showcase takes place upstairs at the Lock Tavern on Wednesday 25 September, starting at 9pm. For more information, visit the International Festival Forum website or download the IFF 2019 app.


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Merit: the real equality in live music

For some years now, there has been much discussion on the subject of gender equality in the live music industry, either on stage or off. In a perfect world – and in my personal imperfect one – equality applies to promotion and profit based on merit and merit alone, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or whatever else.

Understandably, those discriminated against in the past want to catch up and prove that they are equal to the rest, developing careers based solely on professional and artistic qualities, for which I’d offer a standing ovation (no irony whatsoever). But sometimes, things go a bit too far.

Having heard criticism at various international festivals, especially Southside, that line-ups are short of female artists, my first thought was, what if there are just not enough female artists that:

Undeniably, a festival promoter should book whoever they want, based on the quality of the music and the performance, with no regards to gender, race, sexual orientation or whatever else: ie on merit and merit alone. No act making bad music should be booked just to address balance – they should be chosen based on their music and performance.

Merit and merit alone – isn’t that what equality is about?

Similarly, everyone working on the business side of the music industry should be in positions based on their abilities. The overwhelming majority of people working for me, both full-time and freelance, are women, and this is because I see them as better qualified and more organised for the specific jobs they do. Merit and merit alone – nothing more.

The 21st century is discarding most stereotypes and the discrimination of the last 1,000 years, and the witchhunt for balanced gender, race, sexual orientation and anything else just for the sake of it has to go, too. Companies should not be ashamed of, or apologise for, having too few female employees – they should not hire people that are not good enough to do the position they are trying to fill.

Festivals should not be ashamed of, or apologise for, not having enough female acts, but they should apologise for putting together a line-up of artists who make bad music and don’t perform well.

Merit and merit alone – in the end, isn’t that what equality is all about?


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