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Russian tours: how stars of Russian show business conquer America

The concert business of domestic stars in Russia and Ukraine does not bring them previous fees, but many of them manage to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars on tours in the USA.

Фото: Depositphotos

About how organized tours of Russian-speaking stars in the United States, told the publication Forbes.

“Barrel Herring”, “Russian letters for the keyboard”, “Concert of Svetlana Loboda” - posters are posted in this order on a bulletin board in a Russian grocery store in Seattle, Washington. This city, like a dozen other cities in the United States and Canada, where there is a lot of Russian-speaking population, is experiencing a real invasion of artists from the post-Soviet space. According to promoters, the flow of Russian stars of show business rushed to America in 2015, after the Ukrainian events of 2014, which closed this country for Russian artists, and the fall of the ruble exchange rate.

“Russian artists always went on tour to the United States with great pleasure, where they could combine work with leisure, shopping, and meetings with friends and relatives,” explained music producer Yevgeny Friedland. “The American public, nostalgic at home and continuing to watch Russian TV channels, greets them warmly, the concerts are box-office.”

According to him, recently this flow has also grown because the concert business of domestic stars in Russia does not bring them the previous fees.

According to the playbill of the tour of Russian artists that took place in November-December 2017 of the year in New York, San Francisco and Seattle, during this time 24 performed a variety of genres in three cities, from concerts of Boris Grebenshchikov, Chayf, Lolita, Angelica Varum, Leonid Agutin and “Disco Crashes” before the creative meeting with the journalist Alexander Nevzorov, the play by Maxim Averin and the children's “Fixy Show”. Tickets for these events cost from $ 30 to $ 156, with the full loading of the halls, gross fees could be up to $ 1,61 million.

The most frequent artists touring the United States are probably from Comedy Club. In 2017, Mikhail Galustyan and Alexander Revva visited the country with a show Best of the best of the best. Semyon Slepakov embarks on a big tour of the United States in April / May 2018.


According to the bureau The United States Census, 3 million “Russian Americans” live in the USA (2009 data for a year), 1 million “American Ukrainians” (2009), about 800 000 “American Belarusians” (2012), almost 500 000 “American Armenians” (2014) . There is also a Russian-speaking Jewish community: its size, according to various estimates, ranges from 500 000 to 800 000 people.

Thus, the target audience of Russian-speaking artists in the United States is no less than 5,8 million people, if we also take into account people from other countries of the former USSR. However, there are not so many fans of Russian music among them.

“75% of these people do not go anywhere, and a third of them cannot tolerate anything Russian-speaking at all,” says Garik Livshin, head of the concert agency PTB Events.

Forbes conducted a survey in Facebook: from 250 Russian-speaking residents of Seattle, at least once a year, there were 140 people (or someone from a family member) at performances by artists from Russia.

How many Russian-speaking Americans spend on visiting concerts of artists from Russia? According to Garik Livshin, the volume of the Russian-speaking tour market in North America does not exceed $ 50 million. At the same time, 75% is concentrated in major cities: New York, Toronto, Chicago and Los Angeles, the remaining 25% are divided by San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Vancouver, Montreal. Alex Petrov, founder of the poster and ticketing site, estimates the market at about the same $ 50-70 million.

Фото: Depositphotos


The main suppliers of Russian performers to the American market are the companies “distributors”, a dozen of them are large. They negotiate with the administration of artists and organize turnkey tours: schedule, ticket sales, visas, flights, hotels, advertising and promotion. Often they connect agents to work directly in the cities of the tour in order to find a suitable concert hall, notify the local Russian-speaking community, and organize the accompaniment of artists on the spot.

One of the market players is Vladimir Bykhovsky, who founded the company in 2007 year. Show Birzha. Bykhovsky moved to New York from Kiev at the end of 1990, in 2000-2008 he sent home goods from the USA, and after the “decline of business” he decided to engage in show business. 2017 year Show birzha conducted a 4 concert tour, in every 7-8 cities in the US and Canada. In January, Bykhovsky, practically living on a plane, personally drove the show. Comedy Woman on 10 cities. The plans for 2018 year are the concerts of Ani Lorak, the theatrical performance “Fatal Passion” with the participation of Maxim Drozd and Elena Zakharova and the program of Pavel Volya “Big Stand Up».

According to Bykhovsky, it’s easy to enter the administration of this or that artist, and negotiations on tours begin, on average, a year before the scheduled dates.


Popular artists can collect hundreds of thousands of dollars from the tour. Valery Meladze's fee, according to the bill of the “charmingly impulsive artist” who goes on tour in four US cities in the spring, can be $ 15 000-20 000 for a concert, estimates Eugene Fridland. “A decent artist,” he estimates, can earn $ 10 200-000 300 for a tour from 000 cities. The fee of Stas Mikhailov, who was on tour in the United States in early January, according to market participants, was $ 25 000-35 000 for the city.

Theater artists have much less fees, for example, Sergey Makovetsky, who performed in February 2018 of the year with his one-man show “Fima, Fimochka, Yefim”, receives $ 3000-4000 from the city.

The fee of Chulpan Khamatova, who traveled to 7 cities in the USA and Canada in September with her creative evening “Dotted line”, “is exactly the same as in Russia, only converted into dollars,” notes its producer Kirill Zayakin. According to him, the actress “is interested in America, this is a good opportunity to relax and work.” Before this, Khamatova was in the USA several times with theater projects. In the program of the creative evening “Dotted line” the final part is given to its charitable foundation “Give Life”. This time, Khamatova, in addition, told about the American Foundation Podari.Life. This made it possible to attract "more than $ 10 000 from new donors," says the director Podari.Life Lelya Shergova.

Artists' fees, as a rule, are fixed. All risks are borne by the distributors. How much do they earn? Garik Livshin from PTB Events speaks about this rather vaguely: the profit in 30% of fees is “this is an industry standard, but at the same time a dream”.

The financial results of the concert in each city include total expenses (air tickets, transfers, visas, advertising, weekends), technical and household riders. Artists who come on average in the number of 15 people, want to live in hotels of at least four stars, move in Mercedes cars and have security, there are specific requirements, for example, that there is semolina or fresh cottage cheese in the room every morning, says one from agents.

In order to reduce costs, tour organizers, at times, choose not the most comfortable venues for artists. For example, the concert of the group “Tea” in San Francisco was held in the assembly hall of the school. In Seattle, concerts are often held at a venue in the suburb of 45, a short drive from the city center. Zemfire, who collects stadiums in Russia, in America has to be content with small clubs.

To be able to perform in the US, artists receive a special tour visa of type “P”, a letter from the American Actors Guild stating that the show brought is unique and the agreed travel dates must be submitted to the consulate, says Livshin. According to him, all artists usually get visas. However, recent problems with the issuance of US visas have affected some representatives of show business.

Fees "distributors" are transferred to the Russian bank accounts of artists. Taxes in the USA are paid by tour organizers.

Photo: depositphotos


The most successful concerts are held in New York, because here is the most numerous Russian-speaking community, says Bykhovsky. Livshin estimates it at 1,5 million. More artists like to perform in Miami, where you can relax at the same time.

“Sometimes it is possible to build a tour schedule so that we can spend a few days off in Miami, which is a good relaxation between concerts,” he says.

Over the past 5 years, qualitative changes have taken place in the Miami concert market, because the diaspora is increasing not only quantitatively but also qualitatively - it is getting younger, becoming more active, says Anna Krovyakova, publisher of the local magazine Miami Me.

“If before, only New York and Boston were the outposts of Russian culture, now we also have interesting creative meetings and performances,” says Krovyakova.

In her magazine recently appeared column "Poster", which houses the announcements of concerts. This spring in Miami, Renata Litvinova, “The Time Machine”, Alexander Malinin and the play “The Two on the Swing” with Grigory Antipenko and Tatiana Arntgolts are expected.

The project of the magazine considers the decoration of the cultural life of the “sunny island” of Krovyakova Russian Movies MiamiIn the framework of which Alexey Uchitel recently visited with his “Matilda”, and Leonid Parfyonov with “Russian Jews” is expected soon.

“Five years ago, these events, which are now taking place in the best theaters of the city, would not have met their audience in Miami,” Krovyakova is convinced.

In total, last year in Miami 30 Russian-language concerts, theatrical performances and children's shows.

The market for Russian-speaking concerts in Boston is $ 600 000 per year, estimates Garik Livshin from PTB Events. He notes that over the past three to five years, he has changed "radically." From January to June in Boston scheduled 15 concerts.

Russian-speaking artists have tried out the cities of the West Coast of the USA quite recently, but already now the stars, who used to reach the East Coast and sometimes to Los Angeles, are competing for the public here.

For example, only in the market of Seattle and the surrounding area, where about 50 000 Russian-speaking, there are five promoters. Together, they provide an uninterrupted stream of artists who are happy to attend local immigrants, mostly families of programmers working at headquarters Microsoft and Amazon, says Anastasia Podlazova, president of a promotional company RC Group. According to Podlazova’s calculations, the state hosts the 15 order of large concerts a year.

Karina Zakharova from San Francisco combines the work of a promoter with the position of a software tester. One of her latest projects is the Alexander Nezlobin stand-up show. Zakharova often cooperates with Bykhovsky, in this case sending out to her local base, placing flyers in Russian stores, helping artists on the site.


The main source of information about upcoming concerts are local groups in Facebook with ticket information. Sometimes you can earn extra money on artists, for example, in a group Russian Business in San Francisco On January 14, an ad was posted “Urgently need a hairdresser for Stas Mikhailov today at 17: 30 in Palace of Fine Arts. They pay well. ”

The most effective advertising for today is advertising on social networks, says Bykhovsky. According to him, the concerts are also promoted through advertisements on the TV channel “Painting TV”, in the press and through their own client base of promoters.

Tickets for Russian-language concerts are sold with high commissions. Grants such as Boris Grebenshchikov can afford to sell tickets on the serious AXS platform (with the 18% commission), but more often the stars are content with platforms created specifically for selling tickets to the Russian-speaking with the appropriate interface. One such company is, commission ranges from 3% to 20% of the face value of the ticket., created in Los Angeles for 2013 for its own promotional needs, is now based in New York and sells tickets to Russian-language events in four cities (several others are scheduled to join this year), says its founder Alex Petrov. According to him, the sales of tickets for 2017 a year exceeded $ 3 million. The company also earns information support for tours.

According to Petrov, tours of Leningrad, Zemfira, and Okean Elzy were the most popular on 2017.


Top artists are selling well, but it happens that the tour is canceled due to low demand for tickets, said Petrov. For example, in 2016, the tour of Garik Sukachev was canceled, some theater events were also canceled. And not all concerts of the artists that have arrived are held with a full house.

At the concert of Yevgeny Grishkovets, which took place in Seattle in May 2017, about 100 of 300 tickets worth $ 40-70 were sold. Grishkovets himself admitted from the stage that his tour in America did not succeed, says media analyst Alexandra Iorik, who was present at the concert. Why? One of the reasons: immigrants after moving to the United States do not know the new Russian artists, many of them could not hear about Grishkovets.

Not the most successful was the January concert of Stas Mikhailov in Boston. But there are other reasons. On the same evening, the performance “Brodsky / Baryshnikov” was held in the city. As a result, the singer gathered the entire 500 man in Boston, which at the average price of $ 80 per ticket barely covers his fee. The market participants and the New Year tour of the Disco Party Accident group are considered unfortunate.

The next couple of years will be very rich in various activities, predicts Bykhovsky. And this is bad for artists and tour organizers. “The viewer is not able to“ digest ”such a number of concerts. If the city hosts three or four big shows a month, then an active one thousand spectators, who could attend one concert, dissolve between events, ”he says.

According to Yorik, the touring business of Russian artists will come to naught when the current generation of children raised in American culture grows up. Then the winners will remain artists, whose concerts will be attended by the local public.

There are already examples. Infamous group Pussy Riot plans to tour the US West Coast at the end of March. In all four cities along the way of their passage tickets have long been sold out. And events in Facebook since January, they are full of messages from Americans, begging to sell them a couple of tickets, the denomination of which is only $ 25.

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