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UK Music Chief Warns Of The Dangers Of No-Deal Brexit On Music Industry

UK Music CEO Michael Dugher has highlighted “growing concerns” that the impact of a no-deal Brexit could make touring potentially unviable for many in the UK live music industry, which contributes around £1 billion to the British economy. 

In a letter (attached) to the Home Secretary Priti Patel, Mr Dugher stated that the introduction of VAT on merchandising and carnets on the transport of equipment could result in the loss of income of around 40 per cent for acts touring across the European Union. He also highlighted that the Government must provide clarity in the face of conflicting reports about the prospect of an immediate end to freedom of movement, which would also have a major impact on the UK’s live music industry. 

He also suggested that the current information provided by the Government to companies and individuals about a ‘no deal’ is “worryingly inadequate” when preparing the industry for the possible changes ahead. 

His letter states: 

“Such a policy would cause considerable disruption to the international live music touring industry, in terms of UK artists travelling to the EU for concerts and vice versa. 

“It would also run contrary to existing Government guidance which currently indicates EU citizens will continue to be able to enter the UK to work for up to three months even in the event of a “no deal” Brexit. 

“If an alternative “cliff edge” policy is pursued in relation to freedom of movement it could result in retaliation from EU member states, requiring UK musicians to apply for expensive and bureaucratic visas and work permits in order to continue to tour the EU, severely harming our ability to enhance our export potential following recent year to year growth of seven per cent.” 

His intervention comes amid mounting fears that the UK is heading for a no-deal departure from the EU on October 31 under Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

The CEO of UK Music, which represents the commercial music industry in the UK that contributes £4.5 billion a year to the economy, goes on to highlight the risk that the UK visa and immigration system would struggle to cope with the increased work generated by a no-deal Brexit. 

He told the Home Secretary extra costs and red tape at borders in the event of a no-deal Brexit could be a major blow to the £1 billion-a-year live music industry, which relied on the swift and easy movement of artists, equipment and merchandise across EU borders. 

Mr Dugher also explained that the “crude skills and salary” approach to migration would not work for the music industry where wages are well below the average for UK workers and where many self-taught artists and others possess huge talent but sometimes no formal skills. 

In his letter, Mr Dugher said: 

“Requiring musicians, songwriters and producers from the EU to earn salaries of at least £30,000 to work in the UK poses a major threat to the music industry where music creators earn on average £20,504 - way below the average for other jobs.” 

But the impact of a no-deal Brexit would have a far deeper impact on the UK music industry beyond the important issue of migration, said Mr Dugher. 

He outlined fears that a no-deal Brexit could have a drastic impact on the ability of UK artists, promoters and others involved in the industry to cover the costs of touring in the EU. 

His letter to the Home Secretary warned: 

“We are also concerned about the impact that a no-deal Brexit could have on the ability of the UK music industry to sell merchandising and move equipment when they are touring in mainland Europe. 

“According to Government guidance for a no-deal Brexit, anyone bringing goods into or taking goods out of the UK in baggage or a small vehicle which they intend to use for business will be forced to declare the goods and pay import duty and VAT before moving them across the border. 

“This could have a drastic impact on our members to sell merchandise and transport equipment on European tours and result in a loss of income of up to 40 per cent, threatening the viability of future tours and damaging Britain’s export earnings.”


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