British music aka The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Elton John, Adele, Queen, Amy Winehouse, George Michael, Pink Floyd, Stormzy, The Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, The Wombats, Ed Sheeran, The Rolling Stones. The UK has been at the forefront of British music since the pop revolution began in the 1970s and is still at the forefront in 2020.
Our creativity and knack for finding melodies and lyrics that transcend culture and race has earned us a position on the world stage of cultural output. And as a British citizen, it is one of my favourite parts about being British; something I can be proud of when there are so many things about Britain that I am not. With the ever-present buzzword Brexit piercing our ears every day without fail for what seems like an eternity, the word ‘British’ will soon take on a new meaning and we’re going to see for ourselves what it means to have British sovereignty.
As the value of the British music industry soars, artists have begun to express their fears over the potential impact to the music industry regarding touring artists who bring entertainment to the UK from afar, especially new music artists who live hand-to-mouth, relying on gigs for their income. With a new hard border crossing, fees and newly introduced taxes which will make it more difficult to transport equipment and merchandise in and out of the UK.
As well as paperwork and visas that must be filled out, filed and accepted before being allowed into the UK (for foreign artists) or going into any individual country (for UK artists). While this may not affect bigger touring artists much with their larger incomes to pay what will be negligible increases in costs, and administration teams to do their paperwork. Smaller artists with less income will feel the impact on their bank balance and might think twice before coming to play at that small venue on Sauchiehall Street.
This works two ways. Not only will it be more difficult for our favourite small-scale musicians to enter and tour the UK, it will be more difficult for UK musicians to tour Europe because they will need a visa for each country they want to visit. While larger artists can easily organise their tours to Europe and beyond, adding to the £1Billion of revenue generated by the music industry, one might wonder why it is important to consider how Brexit will affect smaller artists. Surely if they’re good enough, they’ll make it??
UK Music, a campaigning and lobbying group which represents the UK music industry, communicating the needs of the industry to the UK government, are calling for “musicians’ passports” which would allow artists to travel freely through Europe, negating the need for added visas and paperwork. If the UK government wants to continue the growth of the music industry or even maintain what we have now, action must be taken to cut costs of small touring artists. Not doing so will lead to a sharp decline of quality artists in following years.
While larger touring artists can pay for increased costs, the music industry in the UK has long relied on the path to success beginning in a grassroots music scene. Many large indie artists and even superstars such as Ed Sheeran began busking and playing small gigs. Artists such as these would not have become so successful had they not had the opportunity to exploit the large music market that is Europe. Free movement into Europe must be provided for current touring artists from the UK if they are to continue the legacy of success and continue representing UK culture globally in the future.
[Jacob Bleakley – he/him]
[Photo credit: Mariachiara Vernillo]