Performing in Russia: is it worth it?
by Sandy C.
Atom™ is one of the headliners at the Outline Festival1 in Moscow this July. His fans in Ukraine are disgusted.2 My reaction was to immediately disconnect from Uwe Schmidt's projects (Atom Heart, Atom™, and Señor Coconut) on Bandcamp and social media. Schmidt is well-established in the electronica scene, and it's hard to believe he needs this gig.
Some comments on social media suggest that the festival is backed by a pro-Putin Russian oligarch.3 My research, mostly on Russian websites, found that businessman Mikhail Danilov does own or control more than half of the nightclubs in Moscow4, and he is skilled at organizing and financing large music festivals. He is likely behind the Outline festival, but I can’t prove it. Danilov has booked major acts like Tiesto in the past, which means he is able to pay extravagant fees. If he is producing or financing this festival, he can afford whatever price Atom™ charges. If Danilov is a "pro-Putin oligarch," as claimed, that simply adds to the level of abhorrence for Uwe Schmidt’s fans. If it’s not a Danilov production, it is still likely that Schmidt is being paid well.
For a moment, I considered the anti-Putin music fans in Russia, who may be limited to seeing only Russian performers during the war, because many foreign acts refuse to make appearances in Russia. I recall how I felt when my country invaded Iraq in my name. We marched, protested, and phoned politicians, but we could not stop our government’s propaganda from convincing the majority of Americans that the war was necessary. Had foreign performers boycotted the USA for our invasion of Iraq, I would have found that acceptable. Anti-Putin Russians may feel equally helpless to stop their war. But those who are deprived of seeing live European acts during the war will muddle through; it’s the Ukrainian people who are actually suffering. Perhaps Uwe Schmidt will realize that the optics are bad for him on this one, and will come to his senses and cancel, even if it causes disappointment for his Russian fans.
The reaction of one of Schmidt's fans outside of Ukraine has been to contact venues and ask that they not book him in the future.5 As more fans abandon him, Atom™ may become box office poison worldwide. I ask you, Uwe Schmidt, is it worth it?
1 Find the Outline Festival website by typing festivalname DOT org.
2 Maya Baklanova: https://www.instagram.com/p/CsQ1l6btZQD/
3 John Object: https://twitter.com/john_object/status/1659316367248506880
He is probably paraphrasing a similar comment in Maya Baklanova’s Instagram post, cited above.
4 Forbes/Russia: https://www.forbes.ru/biznes/352515-dorogo-bogato-otoshlo...
5 Elias in Switzerland: https://twitter.com/eronca/status/1659314931118792704