Over 200 artists including Wolf Alice, IDLES, Poppy Ajudha, Radiohead and many other music industry bodies have come together for the new #LetTheMusicMove campaign – calling upon the UK government to urgently take action on the post-Brexit touring fiasco.
- READ MORE: “It’s going to be devastating” – here’s how Brexit will screw over British touring artists
The row over the government’s failure to negotiate visa-free travel and Europe-wide work permits for musicians and crew in their post-Brexit deal continues to rumble on with no visible end in sight. It is likely that musicians and crew will face huge costs to future live music tours of the continent – which could create a glass ceiling that prevents rising and developing talent from being able to afford to do so.
The government then rejected a petition calling for them to seek visa-free touring for artists and crew, despite it receiving over 280,000 signatures and overwhelming public support.
Now, five years to the day of the original referendum vote on Brexit (June 23), a new artist-led music industry campaign under the banner #LetTheMusicMove is pushing for a reduction in the costs and red tape faced by UK musicians and UK music businesses when full-scale live touring of Europe resumes.
Over 200 artists have voiced their support for the campaign – including Wolf Alice, Annie Lennox, Biffy Clyro, IDLES, Poppy Ajudha, Radiohead, Anna Calvi, Skunk Anansie, Everything Everything, Bob Geldof, Editors, Mark Knopfler, Two Door Cinema Club, New Order, Rick Astley, Ghostpoet, Midge Ure, Glasvegas, Anna Meredith, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Keane, The Chemical Brothers, Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, Blur’s David Rowntree, Gilles Peterson, Jack Garratt, Dave Okumu, Bill Ryder-Jones, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and many, many others.
The campaign notes now the UK is currently the second biggest exporter of music in the world, with Europe as our most important overseas market. In 2019, UK artists played almost four times as many shows across the EU than they did in North America – with these gigs and festival appearances sustaining 33,000 British jobs.
This is all at risk unless Boris Johnson due to the following factors under the ‘No Deal’ Brexit that the music industry has been landed with:
- UK touring vehicles will be limited to only three stops in Europe before having to return home
- UK musicians will require an onerous goods passport (a “carnet”) in order to tour Europe, including a bond for their instruments and equipment
- Those planning to perform in Spain, the UK’s second biggest touring market, face an unprecedented burden of work permits, paperwork and travel costs making many shows and festival performances unviable.
To fix these matters, #LetTheMusicMove are calling upon the government to deliver the following:
- An urgent Transitional Support Package to cover new and additional costs for touring artists and crews in the EU
- Measures to overcome restrictive “cabotage” rules on UK vehicles touring Europe
- A viable long-term plan for UK artists and crew to continue working in all EU-27 countries, without costly permits and bureaucracy
- To ensure European artists have reciprocal freedoms and access to perform at UK venues and festivals
“EU touring and the need to get the right processes in place for simple and economical access to Europe is crucial at this time more than ever,” said Skin of Skunk Anansie, supporting the campaign. “It is the lifeblood of bands and artists, not just financially, but in order to expand their fanbase and deliver their art to a wider audience.
“EU touring also opens up the windows of touring on a global scale with surrounding countries and continents, with the knock-on effect of the impact that bands and artists have that tour there. We need action, we need support, we need access, and we need it now!”
- READ MORE: Government criticised for inaction and told “words won’t save careers” in “critical” Brexit touring fiasco
Blur drummer Dave Rowntree meanwhile, added:“Blur played our first gig outside the UK in Rotterdam in February 1991. We just jumped on a ferry with no restrictions for us or our gear. That August we were back in the Netherlands, followed by dates in Germany, France and then on into a full European tour.
“If we were starting out today trying to do the same, there would be a vast range of bureaucracy and costs, with different regimes in every country. We simply wouldn’t be able to afford it. The UK Government has to take this issue seriously and support touring artists. The future of British music is at stake.”
David Martin is CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition, a UK trade body representing the specific rights and interests of music, and warned of the more profound losses at stake if things continued with a touring resolution for UK artists and crew.
“The UK’s music industry is a success story,” he said. “It contributes enormously to the economy and provides the country with unparalleled soft power, yet we have been dealt a no deal Brexit. Five years on from the referendum vote and six months after the deal was agreed, there has been scant progress from the Government to protect the artist businesses that fuel the industry.
“Touring is essential; it provides opportunities to build audiences, access new markets and develop careers, and it is this activity that supports our recorded music sector. It is time for the Government to fulfil the Prime Minister’s promises to ‘fix’ the crisis facing Britain’s artists.”
Music fans can learn more about the #LetTheMusicMove campaign and lend their support here.
Recently Welsh electro pioneer Kelly Lee Owens scrapped her entire European tour as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Brexit and the “anxiety” they had created – warning NME that the current situation is “doing serious damage to individuals“.
This comes after last week saw a new poll show that the majority of UK voters want the government to be doing more to solve the post-Brexit touring fiasco for musicians and crew, while campaigners have vowed that their “anger is not going away until they find a solution”.
The government was also accused of treating the sector like “an afterthought” in Brexit negotiations compared to the £1.2billion fishing industry.
Responding to the criticisms at the time, a government spokesperson from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport claimed that they “had always been clear that the end of freedom of movement would have implications for professional mobility”.
A controversial issue throughout the continent, European festival promoters have said that they could be likely to book fewer UK acts as a result of Brexit, while figures from the UK music industry have expressed concern that the impact of the deal on musicians who might not be able to tour Europe could also potentially prevent them from acquiring a visa to play in the United States.
Bookers in Europe have told NME that “the effort should come from the UK” to overcome this.