#LetTheMusicMove: a new campaign urges the Government to reduce the costs and red tape of musicians touring Europe - backed by more than 200 artists, including Radiohead, The Chemical Brothers, Skunk Anansie, New Order, Biffy Clyro and Annie Lennox23 June 2021 - Press release
#LetTheMusicMove: a new campaign urges the Government to reduce the costs and red tape of musicians touring Europe - backed by more than 200 artists, including Radiohead, The Chemical Brothers, Skunk Anansie, New Order, Biffy Clyro and Annie Lennox
Five years to the day of the original referendum vote on Brexit, today (June 23rd) sees the launch of a new artist-led music industry campaign,#LetTheMusicMove, 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.
The campaign starts with the support of more than 200 artists including Wolf Alice, Annie Lennox, Biffy Clyro, IDLES, Poppy Ajudha, Radiohead, Anna Calvi, Skunk Anansie, Everything Everything, Graeme Park, Bob Geldof, Editors, Mark Knopfler, Two Door Cinema Club, Mr Scruff, Kelli-Leigh, Ward Thomas, New Order, Rick Astley, Ghostpoet, Midge Ure, Glasvegas, Anna Meredith, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Nina Nesbitt, Keane, Erland Cooper, The Chemical Brothers, Matthew Herbert, Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, Blur’s David Rowntree, Gilles Peterson, Jack Garratt, Dave Okumu, Bill Ryder-Jones, Peggy Seeger, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and many, many others.
#LetTheMusicMove is urging the Government to act now to mitigate the slew of Brexit-related expenditure, restrictions and bureaucracy which is making EU touring unviable and threatens the future success of British music.
More information can be found on the campaign website here, with artists being encouraged to sign up and show their support.
Currently, the UK is the second biggest exporter of music in the world, and Europe is 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.
These gigs and festival appearances sustained an estimated 33,000 British jobs. Their successful return is absolutely vital, not only for the performers and musicians involved, but for an entire ecosystem of live music industry workers and businesses.
However, despite the Prime Minister’s promises to “fix” the multitude of problems resulting from the end to visa-free touring significant uncertainties and barriers remain.
For instance, under new post-Brexit rules:
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
Alongside the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, such additional costs and red tape will put future European touring in jeopardy - particularly for upcoming artists looking to build and expand their audiences.
There is now a growing sense of urgency for the Government to act.
#LetTheMusicMove launches the same day that 50 UK music artists sent a letter to the Prime Minister requesting that the UK Government urgently engage with the EU and its member states to ease the burden of seeking permissions each time artists and their teams wish to perform in EU countries.
Earlier this month, Elton John wrote to MPs on the DCMS Committee outlining how post-Brexit restrictions on touring the EU were a “looming catastrophe” for the UK’s music sector. Meanwhile, last week, new consumer research from Public First indicated that the UK public are not doing enough to address these issues. This follows a petition by freelancer Tim Brennan, as part of the Carry on Touring campaign, calling for a Europe-wide, visa-free work permit for touring professionals and artists that attracted more than 286,000 signatures.
Backed by a growing cross-section of the UK music industry, including the umbrella bodies LIVE and UK Music, #LetTheMusicMove is now calling on Government to deliver four immediate actions to help avoid an impending crisis:
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. 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!”
“To take a van with your gear and perform across Europe is an essential start for the careers of many UK musicians. Without immediate government action to address the bureaucratic barriers put in place since January 1st, a whole generation of musicians will simply not be able to start or continue their touring careers.”
Simone Marie Butler (Primal Scream):
“It’s essential that bands, artists, musicians and DJs can travel Europe at every level of their career. Europe is part of the geographic working space. To make it financially and logistically unrealistic to do shows and festivals will be halting the livelihoods and careers of generations of musicians.”
David Rowntree (Blur):
“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.”
“In a world of visas and officialdom, membership in the EU guaranteed borderless ease in travel. Now we are faced with paperwork at every border, problems with visas and permissions, even more money to be paid out before money is earned. I am objecting on behalf of every wandering musician, crew member and the music industry as a whole.”
"Live touring in the EU has been an integral part to our growth as a band. We have gained some of our biggest audiences in Europe and we feel lucky to have been afforded the opportunity to do so over the last few years. The implications of Brexit’s restrictions - financially and logistically - are devastating, and as an independent band in this current climate, we can no longer imagine touring and promoting our music in Europe as we have done so in the past. We feel deeply saddened for the new and upcoming bands and artists who will not benefit from the incredible opportunities touring in the EU has to offer. Something has to be done to save our live music industry."
Tim Clark, manager for Robbie Williams:
“British artists have benefitted hugely from being able to tour in Europe particularly since the need for visas and carnets were abolished on our entry into the EU. The financial ramifications of any reintroduction of red tape will make it extremely difficult for all but the biggest artists to tour profitably.”
David Martin, CEO, Featured Artists Coalition:
“The UK’s music industry is a success story. 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.”
Annabella Coldrick, CEO, Music Managers Forum:
“We live in a world where music connects globally, and it is more vital than ever for British artists and musicians to tour internationally - and particularly so in the EU, our biggest overseas market. However, five years on from the referendum vote, what once seemed a far-off iceberg of red tape, costs and bureaucracy is now looming upon us. If the Government fails to step up and deliver short-term support and a clear long-term plan, then the impact across our entire business will be catastrophic.”
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE:
“Despite sustaining thousands of UK jobs and bringing millions into the economy, the live music industry has been forgotten in the UK Government’s Brexit deal.
“Touring is the lifeblood of the UK music industry – sustaining musicians both financially and turbo-charging their transition into iconic music brands. #LetTheMusicMove is calling on Government to urgently work with EU member states to fix our abandoned sector, and allow touring to take place for generations to come."
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, Chief Executive of UK Music:
“European touring is crucial to thousands of British musicians and crew, and the immense challenges they now face need urgent attention. The #LetTheMusicMove campaign has fantastic support and shows how united and determined our sector is to resolve this problem.
“The Government has shown with their recent trade deal with Australia that visa barriers can be eased and trade given a crucial boost where there is enough will and political determination.
“It is vital that the Government now shows the same political will in its talks with EU member states to support our world-leading industry which contributes £5.8 billion to the UK economy, £2.9 billion in exports and supports around 200,000 jobs."
Following an earlier postponement, Lord Frost, who is responsible for securing post-Brexit EU travel for creative workers, is anticipated to be appearing soon at a rescheduled evidence session on EU visa arrangements at the DCMS Select Committee.