Brexit effect: why British musicians are on the warpath


Thom Yorke, the leader of Radiohead, expressed his anger after the UK government rejected a deal to allow British musicians to travel across the EU Credit: Kindness Alex Lake

Not all in England is coronavirus and its effects on the music industry. Since this year, Great Britain has lost membership as part of the European Union. The divorce between the parties puts the world of music in front of another complex panorama for both established and emerging artists. Yesterday, The Independent newspaper reported that the “standard” proposal to provide a 90-day exemption for performers from touring the European Union was rejected by the government led by Boris Johnson. The reaction was immediate. The leader of Radiohead, Thom Yorke he called the government “morons without character.” Geoff Barrow, of Portishead, launched the hashtag “BorisKilledMusic”. “Incredible”, he added Lily Allen on his Twitter account.

Until the end of last year, European artists who wanted to perform in the United Kingdom needed a work permit, but British groups did not require a visa to perform in the 26 countries that comprise the Shengen space, which since 1995 allows free transit across borders internal to Europe. British groups circulating in the European Community did not need any special permission to import and export equipment required in their presentations. But all that changed on January 1. The creative industries in the EU have a fund of almost 1.259 billion euros and the UK will not be able to make use of these funds. Everything indicates that the price of records and merchandise from British bands will rise in Europe, since the tax benefits that the United Kingdom enjoys within the bloc will be lost.

The musicians lament the abandonment suffered at the hands of the British Government, which did come out in defense of the fishing sector, marginalizing the music industry, which generates some 100,000 jobs and is the spearhead of British culture in the world. “The defenders of Brexi In this Government they have been talking for half a decade about the virtues and benefits of leaving the European Union and creating a Global Britain, “David Martin, head of the Featured Artists Coalition, warned the press in New Musical Express (NME) magazine. “Well, we are not going to be very ‘global’ if our artists do not have the facilities to play in our neighboring and culturally close countries.” “For a large part of our artists it is vital to go on tour in Europe. We are not just talking about fans who may not see their favorite British musicians or DJs, but bands that will not be able to survive if they face obstacles economic and legal that did not exist to be able to play in the 27 EU countries“.


The singer Lily Allen was another of the voices that complained about the recent decision of the British government. “It’s incredible,” she pointed out indignantly Credit: Instagram

A British government spokesman told New Musical Express that London tried to reach an agreement “to guarantee the temporary freedom of movement of visitors on business trips” (including artists in general and musicians in particular) but that the EU rejected the proposal. “Europe has always been where we launched our tours and now it can be our end point,” said Andy Lenthall, manager of the Production Services Association, which represents the technicians and operators who make live music possible.

If Covid came first, now Brexit through, the British music industry faces another challenge. Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, CEO of UK Music, stressed that the cultural loss will be reciprocal if there is no policy change: “There is a risk that British musicians will not be able to afford the bureaucracy and delays and will have to cancel their tours. But musicians and creators from other countries would also face barriers to performing here, and British audiences would lose out. “

A petition calls on the government to negotiate a “free cultural work permit” to ensure ease of travel across the EU. The initiative received more than 200,000 signatures. Those who supported this initiative include Louis tomlinson, from One Direction and the singer Laura Marling. The Liberal Democrats asked the government to reveal what the EU offered during recent negotiations. Horace Trubridge, General Secretary of the Musicians Union (MU), said: “If the news that our elected representatives decided to reject such an offer is true, if true, it is almost unbelievable.”

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