Find tour dates and live music events for all your favorite bands and artists in your city! Get concert tickets, news and more!

The Bob Lefsetz Podcast

Op-Ed: Oak View Group Blocks Russia

392 0

“In light of the tragic conflict rapidly unfolding in Ukraine, Oak View Group has pledged to not do business in or with Russia, nor will we serve Russian brands in any of our venues on a global basis, effective immediately. We stand with the people of Ukraine, we condemn the actions of Russia, and we hope our stance inspires others in our industry to take action where they can.”

Oak View Group FB page

The war in Ukraine has caused a giant, unanticipated reset:

  1. Isolationism, America First, is history. Turns out we are all interconnected. A butterfly flaps its wings in Asia … This is something the Clintons and their trade polices had right. Unfortunately, those who worked with their hands lost their jobs with no reasonable replacements, but the derided elite intelligentsia knew that we lived in a global village. You think the rest of the world doesn’t affect you, but gas prices are going through the roof because of the war and the hottest social media platform is from China.
  1. Billionaires are not the heroes we are looking for. We’ve got a Jewish comedian, Volodymyr Zelensky, who is evidencing more integrity than those who avoided participation in Vietnam on bogus pretexts and when it comes down to the essence, corporations don’t run the world, but people. Zelensky is willing to die for the cause. He only wants to do what is right. He’s leading by example as opposed to polling. Furthermore, it turns out it’s easy to undercut the billionaire oligarchs, just freeze their assets and ability to move freely. Turns out money can’t buy you everything.
  1. Credibility is key. Tucker Carlson sidelined himself overnight. I’m not saying he’s lost many acolytes, but the rest of the country, the rest of the world, has seen that he is not a serious person. That he’s got no grasp of world affairs. That he’s little more than a broadcaster, looking for ratings. Truth, not ratings. That’s what Zelensky has taught us. In one fell swoop you can undermine your career, especially in an era where nothing fades away and everything radiates.
  1. You’re either on one side or the other. Americans don’t want to commit, for fear of being castigated. Studies have shown that essentially no one is independent. That if you check their voting history they consistently vote for one party or the other. They say they’re independent so they can be above the fray, holier-than-thou, but the truth is the world is not perfect and you’ve got to pick a side, one or the other.
  1. Military strength is important, but it turns out the internet and business have heretofore unforeseen power. Turns out you can cripple a nation by cutting their access off to Swift and the international banking system. And Zelensky has called on hackers to disrupt the Russian government’s institutions.
  1. Boots on the ground is everything. Which is why the “New York Times” is winning this war in terms of coverage. They’ve got the most people there. They didn’t cut back for the bottom line. And when the crisis hit, they were ready. So, the TV outlets, all of them, left and right, have been left flat-footed, dependent on independent sources, stringers and in truth…have defaulted to the big papers, primarily the “Times” and “Washington Post.” A picture is worth a thousand words, but the world is driven by print. Firsthand accounts are everything.
  1. Tribes don’t only work in national politics, but international politics. Germany got off its duff to aid Ukraine once other countries took a side and got active. Furthermore, the EU is a tribe, an organization to rally around. If you’ve got no associations to begin with, you will never be taken seriously when the crisis comes, you will not have a seat at the table. You need to be a member of international groups, you must take responsibility for the world at large.
  1. But one thing about pictures, they undercut all the lies being told by those who’ve been getting away with it for far too long.

And music is an international business too. Entertainment may be the most. But with no leaders, no examples, the brands-to-be with their endorsements and fealty to the Fortune 500 are frozen, they don’t know how to act. Except for Sean Penn. Who unfortunately is an unlikable guy, irrelevant of his political stands, but he seems to know how to do the right thing.

Turns out corporations have more power than individuals in the music business. Because we have no international stars that appeal to everybody. Except maybe Måneskin. Or possibly Ed Sheeran. For years we’ve been told the marginal is dominant. Turns out number one isn’t really number one if most people have never heard of it, never mind heard it. The recorded music business has capitulated its power in pursuit of profits. Finding a game-changing credible act and promoting it? That’s not done. Instead, the labels are marketing giants promoting that which has already been proven by individuals online. As for the film business… The tentpoles play around the world and mean nothing. Netflix has much more power than the studios, because it makes shows that speak to hearts and minds. Streaming TV is international. Who could predict the biggest show of the year would come from South Korea? In “Squid Game,” your life is on the line, which appeals to those lazing on the couch, high. Turns out people want to live on the edge, alive, but in America every entertainer is telling us dope is cool. IT’S NOT! BEING CLEAR-HEADED IS COOL! Being high takes you out of the game.

So when the crisis arrives…

Most Americans don’t know how to act. Told the bogus claim that America is the most powerful country in the world that can always dominate, the hoi polloi leave it to a government that they can’t stop deriding, on both the left and the right. Turns out we need tax money. And the billionaires telling us that they know how to spend it better, oh, come on.

And experience counts. Sure, Zelensky rose from nothing to be everything, but he wasn’t using his newfound status to get rich, wasn’t minting NFTs, ripping off his own citizens with falsehoods. You can learn along the way, but it turns out government is a professional job, not a popularity contest. Do you want Biden and his team who’ve been through previous conflicts, or an inexperienced autocrat who doesn’t even know which side America is on? Who coddles dictators like those in South Korea and Russia, admires Xi’s job for life…could it be because he too strives to be a dictator?

And you can fight the petty internecine wars, but in truth that just dilutes your power. But in a world where truth is fungible, no one can agree what is happening. Sure, Covid knowledge is in flux, but vaccines do work and the latest report is the virus came from a food market, not a lab: https://nyti.ms/3K0p705 Isn’t this the point at which we turn our eyes and ears away from false prophets? Even social media outlets are doing this during the war, banning people. Turns out life and death depends on it.

So I was waiting for a music entity to take a stand on Russia. No one in music wants to take a stand because they might lose a potential fan or market. Forget what they believe, they keep it inside, hidden, so when the crisis comes…they don’t have a platform or a history to build upon. If you’ve never spoken up before if you suddenly do, late, you’re seen as glomming on, you’re ignored.


So all music is niche. So there’s not an act big enough to reach everybody.

And in the internet world, those without traction think they deserve it and constantly complain that they’re doing it right and no one is paying attention. Turns out to have a seat at the table you’ve got to build a base, which takes time, but no one wants to take the time.

I’d be stunned if the acts and the labels don’t start taking a stand on Ukraine. When it’s meaningless.

The labels control the music. I don’t see them telling streaming outlets to pull their tracks from Russia, imploring them to shut down operations in Russia.

I don’t see the streaming outlets taking a risk.

And I certainly don’t see the acts doing so.

But in truth the music world now runs on live. For far too long the labels have gotten the glory, but in truth it’s those on the performance end who have the power. They lay down the cash, to pay the acts and build the buildings.

So OVG makes this statement. It won’t be long before today’s media madness spreads the word. You’ll see it everywhere. Where they reprint the headline but have nothing to say about it, or at least nothing that affects hearts and minds.

Turns out WE’RE ALL INVOLVED! Each and every one of us. No one is immune. To higher prices, at both the pump and in the grocery store. You cannot live with your head in the sand, you might live in Podunk, but you’re a citizen of the world. And with cable television and the internet you’ve got the world at your fingertips. It’s your choice whether to educate yourself or not, it’s your choice whether to believe in false prophets or not. When you read something outrageous that you want to forward, how about googling its veracity first. And yes, we have to stop teaching to the test, moving people through the hoops while learning little. As for banned books…how can you know how the world truly works unless you’re exposed to it? China punishes the Uighurs but we have to protect our children from the truth, as they live in mono-color communities clueless to what is going on outside.


So, just like Zelensky, you have power. That’s right, one individual saying and doing the right thing, someone who has lived their life on credibility, can arise at any moment to change the course of history. But you must know that money isn’t everything, clothes aren’t either, and we all like a good time, but if you’re partying like it’s 1999 you’re left out of the equation today, twenty plus years later.

So maybe you’ve woken up, maybe you haven’t.

Turns out the world is changing every day. And we used to get our truth from music, but that was eons ago. Start looking inside not out. Stop trying to burnish a false image online in pursuit of money and fame. You’ll probably never get there, and you’re abdicating your power in the process.

And learn how to think independently. And realize your tribe might have it wrong.

Because when you’re in the foxhole… Who can you trust? And can the leaders trust you? At that point you’re like an athlete, running on instinct, what have you been taught, that the do-nothings are kings and those in the trenches trying to push the ball forward and improve this world are not?

Yes, the reset is both macro and micro. Worldwide and inside yourself.

Information is king. Truthful information. Learn how to parse the truth. Don’t be a knee-jerk loser. And know that you count. Everybody counts. You might try to take away their right to vote, but that does not mean you’ve silenced them.

Right now you’re seeing autocracy in action. Putin doing whatever he wants. Sending young boys to war, quashing protest. Is this what you’re looking for?

No, I didn’t think so.


Autocracy is at the doorstep of America. Systems are being undermined. Only you can change the future. Get informed and get involved. Because in truth no one is immune today. America is not above it all, separate. We learned this during the Second World War, and seventy five years later it’s even more clear.

You’re a citizen of the world, act like one.

Sometimes there is right and wrong and you’ve got to choose a side.

This is one of those times.

Related Post