Brexit And The Music Industry

Well, Brexit is finally here. Whilst it may feel like not a lot has changed yet as we still are amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we thought today would be a great opportunity to begin breaking down what impacts we can expect Brexit to have on the music industry over the coming months.

For a long time, venues across the UK have been under increasing pressure. The culmination of this pressure and coronavirus having venues to be closed for almost a year has led to countless grassroots venues being permanently shut down across the world, removing not only culture from communities, but also preventing many new rising artists from being able to play...

...After all this, is Brexit going to be the final straw for UK independent music?

Here’s what we know and here are just a few of our predictions on what you might expect to see in a post-brexit, post-COVID world.

Fewer International Artists & Touring Musicians

This is a big one and something that music lovers across both Europe and the UK are worried about, especially following recent findings that the UK government rejected support from the EU for musicians to be entitled for visa free touring visits.

For a long time, many upcoming artists have faced struggles with touring the UK and European venues. Now, with freedom of movement removed and the bureaucracy of visas being required for musicians, the likelihood is that this will add yet another barrier for international musicians who want to tour the UK or UK musicians whose fan bases are in the EU.

Most artists who tour don’t make a profit anyway and the introduction of other fees may kill the industry almost entirely for international and UK musicians hoping to play to overseas audiences. To put that into perspective, a band with six members, already struggling to avoid losing money on tour, could face extra visa costs of around £1,800 while visiting three countries, one leading music manager said.

Ellie Giles, the founder of Step Music Management, said: “Yes, it wasn’t viable before, it was tough but now it’s made it twice as bad.”

Carnets will also likely be required as a customs document on every piece of equipment and merchandise to avoid paying import duties and taxes. On average carnets can cost around £1,000 to £2,000 and last around 12 months.

The various fees for visas, carnets, certification of the value of instruments and so on will mean that playing in Europe could simply not be viable for many UK musicians and likewise with those looking to play in the UK, it may be hard to see the value or worth in making an expensive trip.

Imports and exports

It’s no secret that the best instruments in the world come from all across the globe: Japan, America, and in the case of many grand and upright pianos, Europe is a real cultural capital. It has been predicted that due to increasing paperwork and checks needed to import goods, there may be some teething delays as suppliers and retailers adapt.

This could lead to a potential increased cost on European imports due to companies having to use outsourced expertise to import or export paperwork, however this is largely something that will be quickly resolved as the process becomes more efficient.

Job Losses

It has been estimated that around 170,000 jobs could be lost in the music industry as a result of the pandemic. From musicians, to bar staff, to teachers, to record labels, to concert security teams, the entire music industry has felt the weight of venues and concert halls being closed already. There are also concerns that without proper support of the industry, these trends may not be reversed and thousands more will continue to remain in uncertain waters for financial security.

A (Slightly) Brighter Side

Whilst it’s clear there are certainly some uncertain times ahead for the music industry, some are seeing the opportunity of the UK becoming a world leaving body for both copyright law and musical output.

On the subject of exports, some are seeing Brexit as an exciting opportunity to strike exciting partnerships to grow UK music in overseas markets and to uphold strong copyright protection laws in all future trade agreements. This would allow the UK to become a cultural hub and act as the global destination to perform, record and do business, so there are definite avenues to explore for those in the selling and production of music.

Overall though, the bigger picture remains unclear, at Millers we stand in support with the MIA and Musician's Union against the UK governments rejection of an EU offer of visa-free touring by British musicians. But believe that there is still a long way to go in securing an industry that means so much to so many.

What are your thoughts on Brexit and the music industry? Did we miss any points you think would change the way the UK and other countries around the world look at music? Get in touch using #MillersMusic to join the conversation!

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