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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Largest Music Store Opens on Leninsky

In a show of confidence in the licensed music market that analysts say may be unwarranted, a new music store calling itself Russia's largest has opened in a restored Leninsky Prospekt building that won the Stalin prize after it was built in 1949.

The VseSOYUZny Tsentr Muzyki i Kino, or All-Union Center of Music and Cinema, at 11 Leninsky Prospekt has 45,000 music and film titles on compact disk, video and DVD, said Alexander Menn, vice president of the Soyuz group, which owns the store.

"We thought up the name using the idea that, in Soviet times, attaching 'Vsesoyuzny' to the name of anything meant that it was of special importance," Menn said Monday in an interview.

Soyuz, a vertically integrated holding that operates more than 50 stores in Moscow and St. Petersburg, produces and holds the copyright on a number of music labels and films. It restored the retail area under an investment contract with City Hall, Menn said. He declined to release details on the contract or say how much had been spent on the six-month restoration.

The building, designed by Soviet architect Ivan Zholtovsky, had a connection with music in Soviet times as well, when it was an outlet for state music monopoly Melodia. In more recent years, it was sublet to other retailers.

Menn said the new center, which opened Feb. 28, is Moscow's first music store with a music cafe, which plans to hold almost daily performances by local and Western artists. The center has 20 listening stations, a computer database and an Internet station, he said.

One of the reasons for opening the store was that the prospects for sales of legal music, as opposed to bootleg copies, are improving, Menn said.

"The government's position on copyright issues has changed," he said. "We hope that with government support, there will be more protection of copyright and that we will be able to increase sales of legal works."

The store says it offers everything that is legally produced in Russia. "We sell all the Russian stars, not just those that are signed up to us," Menn said.

The center will launch its first album next week, he added.

Yulia Nikulicheva, research analyst at Jones Lang LaSalle, said Soyuz is one of the biggest retail chains selling CDs in Russia.

"They have stores throughout Moscow and a store in each shopping center in Moscow," she said Monday.

However, despite the several universities located near the new music center and the building's prominence, there is little pedestrian traffic near it, she said.

Soyuz also faces strong competition from pirated music, she said.

"People would prefer to buy pirate disks because their incomes are still quite low," she said.

Igor Pozhitkov, regional director of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, said about 65 percent of music in Russia is pirated.

"The market for legal music was about $200 million last year and is relatively stable," he said.

Piracy does seem to be on the increase, however, after Ukraine shut down some black market CD operations that have since shifted to Russia and Belarus, he added.