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What Would a Music Label Pay to Sign Pussy Riot?

Members of a female punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, sit inside a glass enclosure during a court hearing in Moscow.
Members of a female punk band 'Pussy Riot' Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, sit inside a glass enclosure during a court hearing in Moscow.Photograph by Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images

During her live concert in Moscow last night, Madonna stopped singing, slipped on a balaclava, and launched into a lecture in which she expressed her disapproval of the incarceration and ongoing trial of a local punk group called Pussy Riot. Madonna joined such high-profile artists as Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sting in support of the outfit, whose staunchly anti-Putin members face charges of “hooliganism” and inciting “religious hatred” after an impromptu protest performance at a cathedral in February. Detained throughout a trial this summer, Pussy Riot now await their verdict, expected to be handed down next Friday. The prosecutor is calling for a three-year sentence.

If they are convicted and imprisoned, their music will live on, right? Well, sort of. Pussy Riot formed last year, so there’s no extensive catalog to market. Plus, their lyrics are in Russian, which limits their international audience. After a thorough Web search this reporter found only a smattering of Youtube videos that purport to contain some of Pussy Riot’s songs. It’s prototypically raw, hard-charging punk music, and user responses vary. (According to one commenter, “Political messages aside, this song kinda sucks.”) Regardless, to engage in a hypothetical: What is this band—with such worldwide exposure—worth to a major record label, if they’re acquitted?