Roman Ryabtsev: “Blacklists of musicians are just the top”

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How strange it is for me now to reread my own recent column, where I optimistically painted the impending revival of the Russian music industry, but …

“Music is out of politics!” – Many like to say. Nice declaration, but no. Political changes affect not only the economy and society, but also art in general (and music – the fastest). For the artist cannot be hungry, and the social order gives sweet prospects of fees and concerts. And if the government’s order… It is enough to remember all of us known from childhood revolutionary songs and marches – until 1917, such a format was, to put it mildly, not in demand. And vice versa: all sorts of romances and operettas there were declared by the Bolsheviks “the legacy of the bloody tsarist regime” and almost completely destroyed for many years.

I will not delve into the history, the example is so clear, I hope. Well, if I recall the post-perestroika period and the then socio-political changes that led to the death of traditional Soviet pop and the emergence of new musical genres in the post-Soviet space

The current situation also directly affects what you and I will continue to listen to. And how we will listen to it: after the official departure of several major Western streaming services from Russia, the choice of music applications remained small (how quickly we got used to the CD and became addicted to listening to music online!). However, I personally download music on a flash drive in the old days: well, I do not have Internet and Bluetooth in my car stereo, and it is inconvenient to connect the phone with a cable to the line input every time, to put it mildly! So I haven’t suffered much from the shutdown of streaming music sites, I don’t think many old-school music lovers are too sad either.

Another thing – the so-called “Blacklists of artists” that anyone can now easily find on the Internet. Such a nezhdanchik has become an indisputable fact of current life. The modern witch hunt started in early March, when a whole host of Ukrainian and “attached to them” (remember this wonderful lexicon from the resolutions of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee from the dark past) Russian musicians Ivan Dorn, Max Barskikh, Potap and Nastya disappeared. Monatik, Dorofeeva, Svetlana Loboda, Alekseev, Vera Brezhneva, “Ocean of Elsa”, Valery Meladze, groups “Aquarium” and “2Mashi”. I do not know the exact extent of this purge, but I would not be surprised if every day more and more program directors, taking under the hood, will clean up their broadcasts from some other undesirable artists. They like to act “in one go”, yeah. Traditions, you know …

And there are also documents that also evoke a strong feeling of deja vu: some lists of unreliable groups that are prohibited from performing on stage. There, in addition to the Ukrainian artists who have already been included in the radio, there are other groups whose concerts are “strongly not recommended.” Among them: Noize MS, “Bloodstream”, “Cockroaches”, “Porn Movies”, Oxxxymiron and even… Maxim Galkin. I have been trying for a long time to find the original source: where did this black list come from, from which department of the Ministry of Culture or another department? But I could not find out (and I know how to use the search very well!). So, I suspect, this may be a kind of collective folk art of some “wise sandpipers”, whose whole life is based on two whales: “as if nothing had happened” and “or maybe for this the authorities will pat me on the head.” In general, if there is no official paper with a dozen signatures and seals, then I do not see any practical sense in complying with these instructions from unknown sources (crookedly printed on bad paper). Unless the directorates of concert venues and clubs themselves do not live by the same wise-sandy principles. There is a suspicion that they just live…

But blacklists are just the top. There is the rest, a real iceberg, which will break a tangible hole in the “Titanic” of Russian music (which ordinary listeners do not know, but professionals know). If Western pop music has Sweden, which supplies the rest of the world with almost a lion’s share of hits, so Ukrainian authors and arrangers have made a huge amount of music for the Russian market. The natural musicality of Ukrainians has been very well monetized in our endless pop spaces. At the same time, often (given the difficult political situation) none of them advertised their work: why risk the loss of some particularly “patriotic” customers (and in both countries)? I know many Ukrainian arrangers who worked almost exclusively on the Russian market. Their labor was significantly cheaper than that of local keyboard and computer workers (sometimes on the verge of dumping), they did the work quite well and quickly. But now all Ukrainian colleagues are at one point out of our show business. And it’s not even a matter of politics, or not only in it alone: ​​it has become banally impossible to pay for the ordered song or arrangement! Remittances from Russia… well, you know what to write once again… So there is a fairly global redistribution of the production market of what you will listen to later.

In short, changes on the Russian scene are inevitable. Many will leave: both those who are in sight and those who work behind the scenes. But I’m still inclined to look for positive moments in everything (at least transparent) hints that someday normal life will be restored. Remember the ancient fable about two frogs that fell into a pitcher? You can whine about the fact that “boss, everything is gone, life is over!”, And drown. And you can flounder your paws, beat the butter and get out of the pitcher. The emptying voids in the music market are just waiting to be filled (because nature does not tolerate, and all that). This is a great chance for a new wave of Russian authors and arrangers (who previously could not break through) to express themselves, develop something original and give people fresh interesting music. Because without music, no matter how cool… you can’t survive. In times of crisis, its light is especially valuable for survival.

Published in the newspaper “Moscow Komsomolets” №28753 dated March 30, 2022

Newspaper headline:
Rasha, good bye? Or hello?

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