Let's make a noise for musicians losing out after Brexit

In Love With The Shape Of EU

From Ed Sheeran and Brian May to Sir Elton John and Sting, more than a hundred of the biggest names in UK music this week joined forces to speak up and speak out against the government’s failure to secure post-Brexit visa-free arrangements for touring musicians that will enable them to perform throughout the EU.

Breaking Down Barriers

Under the Brexit deal, there will be more red tape for musicians as there will for everyone, whenever they transport goods into the EU, provide services or do both as in this case. There will be more paperwork, more searches of goods and more delays in crossing borders. These new tariffs and barriers for touring the EU will not only affect the performers and have immediate costs for the economy, but will also impact Britain’s cultural reputation and risk our position as a world leader in music, hurting us in the long term.

Freedom (Of Movement)

The issue of touring visas is only one of many hurdles when it comes to musicians and performers. The loss of freedom of movement is not just disastrous for UK citizens trying to earn a living in the EU, but for EU citizens working in the UK, now and in the future. For example, more than 20 per cent of musicians in some orchestras are from EU countries. Some of those EU citizens may not be able to secure settled status by the June 30 deadline, and musicians of the future will find it even harder to work in the UK.

Don't Stop Me Now

The problem of cabotage, meanwhile, will impact the ability of performers to cross multiple borders in a single tour. Under the new rules, hauliers carrying touring equipment around the EU will be limited to just two additional stops before returning to the UK, with the amount of time a British artist can spend in any of the 26 EU countries being determined by national law. Performers may require individual visas for each member state and could face £350 permits for individual instruments and other equipment. (The Common Travel Area means the rules for UK musicians travelling to Ireland are different).

The Taxman's Taken All My Dough

The limit on how many stops a touring lorry can make in the EU will be a major barrier to touring musicians who rely on UK-based hauliers to transport music equipment across the union for tours, most of which will exceed the total allowance of three stops. Adding to the costs and complications is tax. “Cultural Exemption”, which enables exemption from VAT on admission charges for cultural events in the EU, is vital for touring performers, and will now be lost. This will make tours of the EU by UK artists less viable in future.

Money Money Money

We will all suffer if these issues are not resolved. As Horace Trubridge, general secretary of the Musicians’ Union, told the House of Lords European Union committee today, the music industry alone is worth £5.8 billion to the UK economy, with more than 100,000 jobs. The music industry is of greater net value than the fishing industry, which despite being only 0.02 per cent of the British economy received considerably more consideration during the Brexit negotiations.


And it is not just fishing that has received more coverage over the last few years. Overall, the creative industries sector, worth £110 billion to the UK’s economy and the fastest-growing sector, employs 700,000 more people than the financial services sector, and is worth £8 billion more than the automotive sector.

Danger Danger

Established pop stars, up-and-coming young artists, orchestras, classical musicians (see here for some heart-breaking case studies), all will suffer under the new rules, their right to ply their trades and bring joy in peril. With many performers already struggling due to the ban on live music under coronavirus restrictions, these new post-Brexit costs and red tape may push some over the edge and out of business.

Fight The Power

We will continue to fight for them, and all affected sectors, to limit the damage done by Brexit and rebuild our relationships with the EU.


If you are not already a member, please join, and help us build back our relationships with the EU and get back those rights we have lost:



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