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#LetTheMusicMove: Top UK artists call for action on Brexit woes

Five years after the Brexit referendum, artists and industry groups are sounding the alarm over the visas, carnets and restrictive cabotage rules now facing UK artists

By IQ on 23 Jun 2021

Skunk Anansie are backing the #LetTheMusicMove campaign

image © BMG

Five years after the Brexit vote on 23 June 2016, today (23 June) sees the launch of a new artist-led music industry campaign, #LetTheMusicMove, pushing for a reduction in the costs and red tape which will face UK musicians and businesses when touring in mainland Europe resumes.

The campaign – which has the support of more than 200 artists, including Radiohead, Wolf Alice, Annie Lennox, Biffy Clyro, Idles, Skunk Anansie, Everything Everything, Editors, Mark Knopfler, Two Door Cinema Club, New Order, Rick Astley, Ghostpoet, Midge Ure, Glasvegas, Anna Meredith, Keane, the Chemical Brothers, Blur’s David Rowntree, Gilles Peterson, Jack Garratt, Bill Ryder-Jones Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason – is urging the British government to act now to mitigate new Brexit-related expenditure, restrictions and bureaucracy it says will make EU touring unviable.

The launch of #LetTheMusicMove comes as 50 British artists, all represented by WME, send a letter to the prime minister, Boris Johnson, requesting the government urgently engage with the EU and its member states to ease the burden of seeking permissions each time artists and their teams wish to perform in EU countries.

Earlier this month, Elton John wrote to MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee outlining how post-Brexit restrictions on touring the EU are a “looming catastrophe” for the UK’s music sector, as industry experts warned touring will grind to a halt if an exemption isn’t secured for music hauliers.

Backed by a cross-section of the UK music industry, including the umbrella bodies LIVE and UK Music, #LetTheMusicMove is calling on the government to deliver four immediate actions to help avoid an impending crisis:

  • An urgent transitional support package to cover new and additional costs for touring artists and crews in the
  • EU measures to overcome restrictive cabotage rules on UK vehicles touring Europe
  • A viable long-term plan for UK artists and crew to continue working in all EU countries, without costly permits and bureaucracy
  • Ensure European artists have reciprocal freedoms and access to perform at UK venues and festivals

Artists are encouraged to sign up on the #LetTheMusicMove website and show their support for the campaign.

“We need action, we need support, we need access, and we need it now”

Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the Music Managers Forum, says: “We live in a world where music connects globally, and it is more vital than ever for British artists and musicians to tour internationally –and particularly so in the EU, our biggest overseas market.

“However, five years on from the referendum vote, what once seemed a far-off iceberg of red tape, costs and bureaucracy is now looming upon us. If the government fails to step up and deliver short-term support and a clear long-term plan, then the impact across our entire business will be catastrophic.”

In 2019, UK artists played almost four times as many shows across the EU than they did in North America.

“EU touring and the need to get the right processes in place for simple and economical access to Europe is crucial at this time more than ever,” say Skunk Anansie (pictured) in a statement. “It is the lifeblood of bands and artists, not just financially, but in order to expand their fanbase and deliver their art to a wider audience. EU touring also opens up the windows of touring on a global scale with surrounding countries and continents, with the knock-on effect of the impact that bands and artists have that tour there.

“We need action, we need support, we need access, and we need it now!”

“The UK’s music industry is a success story. It contributes enormously to the economy and provides the country with unparallelled soft power, yet we have been dealt a no-deal Brexit,” comments David Martin, CEO, Featured Artists Coalition. “Five years on from the referendum vote and six months after the deal was agreed, there has been scant progress from the government to protect the artist businesses that fuel the industry.

“Touring is essential; it provides opportunities to build audiences, access new markets and develop careers, and it is this activity that supports our recorded music sector. It is time for the government to fulfil the prime minister’s promises to “fix” the crisis facing Britain’s artists.”


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