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What Might a No Deal Brexit Mean for Musicians?

In this blog, Assistant General Secretary Phil Kear discusses what the DCMS’s newly published advice implies for British musicians in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Published: 04 October 2019 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:30 PM
Photograph of an empty stage set up for a band to play.
The ability of British musicians to tour in the EU will be seriously hampered in the event of a no deal Brexit. Photocredit: Shutterstock

It is clear from the advice published this week by the UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) that the ability of British musicians to tour in the EU will be seriously hampered in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Whilst international music stars may have the backing to continue touring business-as-usual, the majority of bands, solo musicians, orchestras and touring theatre companies are likely to find touring in the EU to no longer be organisationally or financially viable.

The published advice indicates that in the event of a no deal Brexit additional health and travel insurance, visas, work permits, international vehicle and driver registration documents, carnets for transportation of goods and up-front VAT payments on merchandise will need to be organised and paid for in order to tour.

It’s an absolute mountain to climb, especially for grassroots tours where there’s already little financial room for manoeuvre.

A corresponding negative effect on the UK economy

This is a huge worry, both in terms of the ongoing livelihood of our members and also the future financial success of the entire UK music industry.

Many successful British bands of the past learnt their trade and built a following through extensive touring in the UK and EU. With that path seemingly closed, how will the next generation of British talent be able to take those first steps towards success?

Historically the UK has been one of the world’s most successful exporters of music, with net exports of 2.6 Billion in 2017 (UK Music, 2018 Measuring Music Report).

A no-deal Brexit could see a swift reversal of that trend. With new up-and-coming British talent unable to build a market for their music, it’s inevitable that there will be a corresponding negative effect on the UK economy.

The UK Government should be extremely concerned.

Let touring musicians travel post Brexit

We need an EU-wide touring visa for musicians working in the EU post-Brexit.

This Musicians’ Passport must:

  • Last a minimum of two years
  • Be free or cheap
  • Cover all EU member states
  • Get rid of the need for carnets and other permits
  • Cover road crew, technicians and other staff necessary for musicians to do their job

Find out more about the MU’s campaign to protect musicians’ rights post Brexit.

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