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Brexit one year on: What’s the state of play?

It has been a little over a year since the post-Brexit trade deal came into effect, presenting the live music industry with a myriad of challenges to overcome.

Since then, 21 of the 27 EU member states have confirmed that British artists will not need a visa or work permit when entering those countries to undertake “short-term” tours, with each country having their own slightly different regulations to navigate.

But while the vast majority of Europe is ‘open for rock and roll business’, the live music industry is still battling to resolve issues around immigration, social security, carnets, cabotage and VAT.

With many creases still to be ironed out, IQ spoke with Craig Stanley, tour producer for Marshall Arts and chair of the LIVE touring group, and Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) CEO David Martin to identify the current state of play for the live music business.

Concert hauliers
A year on from the post-Brexit trade deal and little has been resolved in terms of cabotage restrictions that limit movements into and around the EU.

Before Brexit, concert hauliers were not restricted in the number of times they could unload and load productions on a European tour. Now, trucks over 3.5 tonnes are limited to just three stops before they have to leave the EU and return to the UK.

An estimated 75-80% of the European concert trucking business is based in the UK, meaning there are not enough trucks in Europe to make up the shortfall.

According to Stanley, the British Department for Transport (DfT) has offered to bring in dual registration as a solution to cabotage restrictions, meaning concert hauliers can be registered in both the UK and Europe.

However, to be registered in the EU, concert haulage companies will need a European yard which, as Stanley points out, is a huge expense. “They’d need a bonafide office that is tax registered and upholds all the regulations of that country,” he explains.

“We’ve made it clear on a ministerial level that [cabotage restrictions] is absolutely an existential threat to our industry”

According to Stanley, the DfT says that the earliest it can introduce dual registration is summer, causing great uncertainty for spring European tours.

“There are big tours starting in May that don’t know what they should be doing – it’s catastrophic,” says Stanley. “We’ve made it clear on a ministerial level that this is absolutely an existential threat to our industry, and they don’t seem to understand that there’s a tremendous urgency to get this fixed.”

While Stanley says the industry would broadly welcome dual registration as a “quick workaround solution”, he’s anxious to stress that the sector needs a comprehensive long-term solution in the form of a cultural exemption to allow free movement of trucks.

Unlike immigration issues, cabotage is an EU matter and cannot be determined by individual sovereign states. This means all 27 EU states would need to agree on any change to cabotage, including a cultural exemption. “It’s going to take some time,” adds Stanley.

Visas
As it stands, all but six EU member states have confirmed that British artists will not need visas or work permits when European touring resumes, though with some local conditions that will still need to be considered.

Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Portugal and Spain have all confirmed that British artists will not need a visa or work permit when entering those countries to undertake “short-term” tours.

Spain, the fifth-largest live music market in the world, is the most recent market to join the list after months of lobbying from live music trade bodies.

Previously, artists and their promoters had been required to file applications for short-term visas entirely in Spanish, provide a host of itinerary details before knowing whether the tour could go ahead and give proof of applicant earnings of up to nearly £1,000 before ever having left the country.

Touring artists and their production teams were also required to wait for over a month for a decision, making long term scheduling impossible.

“Being restricted to spend no more than 90 days in the EU in a period of 180 days is a limiting factor”

The seminal change followed months of dedicated work from live music industry trade body LIVE, the Association for British Orchestras (ABO) and their Spanish counterpart, APM Musicales, as well as Live Nation Spain.

“This was a fantastic example of putting pressure on the government within the UK whilst applying pressure in Spain and, as a result, we brought about change,” says Stanley.

LIVE is continuing to lobby the government to work with individual EU nations to tackle the problem of visas and permits, prioritising Greece, Croatia, Romania, Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria.

While the ability to undertake “short-term tours” in 21 of the EU member states is a win for the industry, it’s still less than ideal for anyone who is consistently in Europe, warns Stanley.

“Being restricted to spend no more than 90 days in the EU in a period of 180 days is a limiting factor,” he explains. “It could have severe implications for, say, technicians and drivers who go from one tour to the next. Those kinds of professionals could easily spend more than three months in the EU – especially as that law includes holidays.

If they were going to exceed the limit, then “they would then have to get their employer to get them a work permit which is an expensive and involved process”.

Social security
Since leaving the EU, the European Health Insurance Card (EHICS, previously E111) will become null and void upon expiry for British citizens, meaning medical insurance is just another cost that touring artists will have to consider.

“Because we pay National Insurance here, most countries don’t deduct any social security payments in their country,” explains Stanley. “But, you have to obtain the right form from the UK tax authorities confirming you’ve paid social security in the UK. However, this hasn’t been road-tested. France, for example, is saying they’re going to increase their deduction of social security from an artist’s fee.

“Further clarification is still required on social security deductions in various territories, primarily France. It’s a question of whether laws are enforced and how they’re interpreted.”

“Further clarification is still required on social security deductions in various territories, primarily France”

ATA Carnets
The carnet system once again applies within Europe, as it did prior to the UK’s membership of the EU, and in line with other non-EU international tours.

It’s now necessary for tours to obtain ATA Carnets for all equipment travelling outside of the UK on a temporary basis. And while the carnet process is well established, its reintroduction is expected to add friction and cost to European touring, with its impact felt more intensely by grassroots and emerging artists.

“It’s a bureaucratic nightmare for smaller artists,” says Stanley. “It’s not only the lodging fee, it’s also what’s called the bond. You have to put up a bond which is the value of the goods being temporarily exported. If you don’t return them, you can actually risk forfeiting the bond. The bond is a way of making sure that what you temporarily export you are going to bring back.”

Martin from the FAC echoes Stanely’s point, adding that “for smaller artists, the cost of the carnet and the bond are prohibitive when it comes to touring”.

The FAC negotiated an agreement with London Chamber of Commerce, to offer its members a 40% discount on the purchase and bond for ATA Carnets. However, merchandise shipments and any other consumable items cannot be shipped on a carnet.

“This means merchandise will probably have to enter the EU on a permanent basis and, whilst they should be duty-free, a local company in the European destination country will have to take responsibility for the VAT due on the import,” John Corr at Sound Moves explained to IQ last year.

The other option, Stanley says, is to have merchandise made within the EU so the tax is already paid. “It’s straightforward once you’ve done it once or twice but it’s more friction,” he says.

“The most urgent and potentially the most impactful issues are clarity and engagement”

Clarity, guidance and support
“The most urgent and potentially the most impactful issues are clarity and engagement,” says Martin from the FAC. “One of my one of my members had a top 40 album this year and did not tour when they could have because of the complexity.”

“It is completely within the UK government’s gift to write guidance around what on earth this incredibly complex landscape means for professionals and operators in the sector, and they have not done that. It’s an unwillingness, it’s not an inability,” maintains Martin.

Since March 2021, LIVE, ISM, Musicians Union, UK Music, Music Managers Forum and Carry on Touring have been lobbying for a transitional support package to help the industry overcome the challenges presented by Brexit.

According to the coalition, the Live Music Transitional Support Package (TSP) would:
• Offer a quick solution for the government to mitigate the catastrophic disruption to the live music sector caused by Brexit.
• Establish a working partnership between the government and the live music sector until the planned UK Cultural Export Office is operational.
• Prioritise emerging talent and those likely to be hardest hit by the new regulations.
• Provide support for all those on stage and everyone involved behind the scenes.

Alongside government support, Stanley and Martin are also appealing to record labels to get behind the cause.

“There’s this invisible line between live and recorded but the success of an artist is generally predicated on them succeeding on both fronts – and British talent is at risk,” warns Martin.

Stanley echoes that sentiment: “The live side can’t understand why the recording and publishing industries – which are riding high on record-breaking profits – can’t put their hand in their pocket to support the pipeline of talent on which their future revenues depend.”

 


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Green Guardians: Transport and travel

The Green Guardians Guide, spearheaded by the Green Events and Innovations Conference and IQ Magazine, is a new yearly initiative highlighting some of the work being done around the world to reduce the carbon footprint of the live entertainment business.

The inaugural list, which originally ran in IQ 90, features 60 entries across ten categories, selected by the Green Guardians committee, which includes representatives from some of the sector’s most respected bodies, such as A Greener Festival, Go Group, Green Music Initiative, Julie’s Bicycle and Vision:2025.

Following on from last week’s feature on the companies providing decor & set design, this edition of Green Guardians looks at how to reduce our collective carbon footprint with savvy methods of travel.

 


Transport & travel

Qualité Motel
Canadian electro-group Qualité Motel have always been sensitive to environmental issues, but the main change to the band’s habits came in 2018, when the ACT movement started in Montreal, offering touring artists a deeper understanding of their environmental impact, and providing tools and a list of actions that can be done differently.

The band emphasises that every small gesture counts: they bring reusable water bottles and coffee thermoses to avoid trashing plastic bottles and single-use coffee cups; they bring their own lunch; and their eco artist rider requests local food, local alcohol, “access to water” instead of bottled water, zero-waste catering, etc.

“We also encourage them to extend as much as they can those principles to the rest of the event,” says band member François-Simon Déziel. In 2019, Qualité Motel launched a new festival called La Virée du Saint-Laurent where they organised three beach parties along the Saint-Laurent River, and embarked on a seven-day tour using a sailing boat in an effort to achieve zero-waste events, zero-emission transport and 100% local proposition for food and alcohol.

The band emphasises that every small gesture counts: they bring reusable water bottles and coffee thermoses

Chooose
As human beings, we leave an unavoidable carbon footprint, simply by existing on Planet Earth. By now, we’ve learned that the choices we make, especially with regards to travel, can affect the size of that footprint, and many of us already make an effort to reduce our emissions where possible.

Chooose makes it easy to act on climate change by making solutions for global CO2 reduction available to everyone. With a monthly subscription, it is possible to directly support some of the most impactful CO2-reducing projects around the world.

These projects are carefully handpicked by the Chooose international carbon advisory team, and verified by acknowledged institutions such as Veritas, DNV GL, and the United Nations.

The average CO2 footprint for a world citizen is 4.8 metric tons per year, but emissions vary depending on the country e.g. the average person in Nepal emits 0.3 tons per year, compared to the average Canadian’s 15.2 tons.

Based on numbers provided by The World Bank, Chooose therefore offers subscriptions based on country.

Chooose makes it easy to act on climate change by making solutions for global CO2 reduction available to everyone

Rock Werchter
During the 2006/07 season, when Yourope (the association of European festivals), launched its Green & Clean guidelines for greener festivals, Rock Werchter was among the first to get on board.

In association with Belgian public transport companies, SNCB and De Lijn, Rock Werchter offers a free train e-ticket for anyone who buys a ticket to the festival, and/or free return travel by train or bus.

Festival-goers can take the train to Leuven or Aarschot stations, from where De Lijn takes them by shuttle bus to the Werchter site on either hybrid buses or buses with diesel filters.

NMBS also provide night trains to ensure people get home after each day of Rock Werchter, and after the promoter’s one-day festivals.

The festival also encourages fans, crew and volunteers to cycle to Werchter and runs a park & bike scheme whereby fans can use car-parks near the festival for free, before using their own bikes to complete the final leg of the trip.

Rock Werchter offers a free train e-ticket for anyone who buys a ticket to the festival, and/or free return travel by train or bus

Big Green Coach
Big Green Coach claims to be the largest events travel company in the UK, through its work with more festivals and gigs than any of its industry rivals.

It is the official and exclusive coach partner to major festivals such as Boardmasters, Creamfields, Download, Isle of Wight Festival, Latitude, Leeds, Parklife, Reading, Wireless and many more. Further afield it transports fans to the likes of Outlook, Hideout, Tomorrowland, Rock Werchter and Pukkelpop.

Since its creation in 2009, Big Green Coach has been working hard to make a positive impact on the environment. More recently, for every customer who books travel with Big Green Coach, the company commits to sponsoring and protecting 5 square feet of Amazonian rainforest for ten years.

This has resulted in more than 1.2million square feet of rainforest in Peru being protected by Big Green Coach for the next ten years. The company’s target is to protect an area covering 3m square feet during the next five years.

The company commits to sponsoring and protecting 5 square feet of Amazonian rainforest for ten years per customer

Pieter Smit
Sustainability goes hand in hand with Pieter Smit’s efficiency-driven factors, and as a result, all its trucks are Euro 6 and equipped with state-of-the-art technology, meeting all the latest EU standards.

This is the most environmentally friendly technology available for (long-distance) trucking. In addition, all Pieter Smit vehicles are equipped to run on biodiesel.

Company policy dictates that vehicles must drive as few unnecessary kilometres as possible, which often means leaving trucks and trailers at venues for a few days, while the driver travels home on public transport.

Among its various sustainability credentials, Pieter Smit’s new and renovated buildings use geothermal heating systems (earth warmth) together with improved insulation materials and triple-glazed windows.

At company HQ, 600 solar panels, with a 153 KWP capacity have been installed, and the buildings have been fitted with LED lighting to reduce energy consumption, meaning the company delivers electricity back to the grid.

All of its trucks are equipped with the most environmentally friendly technology available for (long-distance) trucking

FahrradGarderobe
Literally translated as ‘bicycle cloakroom,’ FahrradGarderobe (FG) promotes quality-conscious, environmentally friendly and socially responsible event tourism throughout Germany and beyond.

Bicycle cloakrooms (or ‘bike racks’), are becoming commonplace at festivals and sporting events, thanks to FG, who provide guarded, insured, and fully accessible, mobile parking spaces for attendees’ bikes.

The use of bicycles delivers a significant CO2 reduction for events, with the bonus that FG staff and volunteers can directly record the diverse positive and negative visitor impressions at each event and pass that feedback to the organisers.

Bike parking also cuts down on possible congestion around escape routes, while space-saving on a large scale.

FG also encourages event visitors to check out the local area outside of the event itself, and supports regional eco-cycling initiatives.

 


Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 90, or subscribe to the magazine here.

 


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Massive Attack announce latest eco initiative

Bristol band Massive Attack have announced they will travel by train when touring Europe in future, in the group’s latest attempt to tackle the live industry’s carbon footprint.

The announcement follows the band’s commissioning of the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to look into ways in which the live music industry can reduce its carbon footprint. Band travel is one of the three key areas the research will focus on, along with audience transport and venues.

Massive Attack were also among acts to perform at the Extinction Rebellion climate protests in London in October 2019.

Currently on tour in North America, Massive Attack will return to Europe in summer 2020, making appearances at the Netherlands’ Best Kept Secret Festival and Les Eurockéennes in France, among others.

“The challenge now is to not only make personal sacrifices, but to insist on the systemic change that’s needed”

Lead singer Robert Del Naja, also known as 3D, told the BBC: “[As musicians] we have enjoyed a high-carbon lifestyle. But as a society we’ve all existed in a fossil-fuel economy for a long time and had very little choice in that.

“The challenge now is to not only make personal sacrifices, but to insist on the systemic change that’s needed. Business as usual is over.”

Coda Agency and A Greener Festival (AGF) launched the Green Artist Rider at the Green Events and Innovations Conference (GEI) in March last year, in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of touring. Tickets for GEI 2020 are available here.

 


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Car and buses separated in new T in the Park transport set-up

Following previous revelations that 2016’s festival will have a reconfigured, more spacious arena and a larger, better stewarded campsite, T in the Park has concluded its trio of announcements about the new infrastructure for July’s rejuvenated event.

Improvements include separate roads for buses and cars accessing the site; a large new bus station with over 40 stands; one dedicated pick-up and drop-off point; and a number of new car parks. Each transport hub will have dedicated management teams and facilities T in the Park promoter DJ Concerts says will “ensure the comfort of festivalgoers”.

The new set-up is being managed by the T in the Park’s new traffic manager, former road police inspector Ian Martin. “The changes to the on-site transport set-up are significant,” Martin says. “We’ve not tweaked last year’s: we started with a blank piece of paper and after months of testing and liaising with our partner agencies, including Transport Scotland, Perth and Kinross Council and Police Scotland, as well as local community councils, we have a solid plan in place.

“The separated routes for buses and cars will help keep traffic moving and the bus station will make travelling with Citylink and Big Green Coach the best ways to get to and from the festival.  With an event of this scale, an element of patience will always be required when getting in and out of the site, but I can guarantee this will be of a normal level and managed by an experienced team.”

The changes are explained in a new video from the festival, embedded below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P8OiqoasFc

All the new changes come as part of a major management restructuring for the festival. Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn was brought in as executive producer after last year’s event, its first at Strathallan Castle, which was heavily was criticised for its traffic congestion, failings on crowd control and security and repeated breaches of planning permission.

The criticism culminated in January, when Perth and Kinross Council warned that the festival’s future is in jeopardy “until DF can demonstrate their capability to effectively manage this event in future”.

The Stone Roses, Calvin Harris, Red Hot Chili Peppers and LCD Soundsystem are headlining T in the Park 2016.