Rockin’ the Kremlin: My Incredible True Story of Gangsters, Oligarchs, and Pop Stars in Putin’s Russia

Rowman & Littlefield. Jul. 2024. 252p. ISBN 9781538178751. $32. MEMOIR
What’s the link between an American record label executive and the war in Ukraine? In this book, Junk, the former head of Universal Music Russia, ponders that question as he returns from a visit to Ukraine following the 2022 Russian invasion. This intriguing memoir, written with the help of journalist Bronson (The Jacksons), details a peculiarly capitalistic adventure in Russia following the fall of the USSR, from the heady early days of American corporations exploring a veritable gold rush of new markets through the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Some readers may view Junk’s lens as somewhat narrow, yet it’s wider than one might think due to his having to deal with both the Russian government and the criminal underworld just to do business. Junk’s successes include mitigating music piracy in Russia, the international breakout of pop stars t.A.T.u, and helping to establish a distinctly Ukrainian music industry. How much difference these made will be for history to decide.
VERDICT An absorbing illustration of the mutuality of music and politics. For musicians, business people in the music industry, and readers interested in the intersection of politics and art.
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