Michael Dugher, CEO, UK Music

UK Music CEO warns no-deal Brexit could make touring ‘unviable’

Michael Dugher, CEO of music industry umbrella body UK Music, has written to the UK Home Secretary highlighting ‘growing concerns’ that the impact of a no-deal Brexit could make touring potentially unviable for many in the UK live music industry.

Dugher states that the introduction of VAT on merchandising and carnets on the transport of equipment could result in the loss of income of around 40 per cent for acts touring across the European Union. He also highlights that the Government must provide clarity in the face of conflicting reports about the prospect of an immediate end to freedom of movement, which would also have a major impact on the UK’s live music industry.

‘Woefully inadequate’ Government information

He also describes the current information provided by the Government to companies and individuals about a no-deal Brexit is ‘worryingly inadequate’ as preparation for coming changes.

In his letter, Dugher states:

‘Such a policy would cause considerable disruption to the international live music touring industry, in terms of UK artists travelling to the EU for concerts and vice versa.

‘It would also run contrary to existing Government guidance which currently indicates EU citizens will continue to be able to enter the UK to work for up to three months even in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

‘If an alternative ‘cliff edge’ policy is pursued in relation to freedom of movement it could result in retaliation from EU member states, requiring UK musicians to apply for expensive and bureaucratic visas and work permits in order to continue to tour the EU, severely harming our ability to enhance our export potential following recent year to year growth of seven per cent.’

UK Music’s intervention comes amid mounting fears that the UK is heading for a no-deal departure from the EU on 31 October 31 under Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Dugher highlights the risk that the UK visa and immigration system would struggle to cope with the increased work generated by a no-deal Brexit, with the live music industry relyng on the swift and easy movement of artists, equipment and merchandise across EU borders. He also explains that the ‘crude skills and salary’ approach to migration would not work for the music industry, where wages are well below the average for UK workers and where many self-taught artists and others may possess considerable talent but sometimes no formal skills.

‘Requiring musicians, songwriters and producers from the EU to earn salaries of at least £30,000 to work in the UK poses a major threat to the music industry where music creators earn on average £20,504 – way below the average for other jobs.’

Drastic impact on ability to cover touring costs

But the impact of a no-deal Brexit would have a far deeper impact on the UK music industry beyond the important issue of migration: a no-deal Brexit could have a drastic impact on the ability of UK artists, promoters and others involved in the industry to cover the costs of touring in the EU.

‘We are also concerned about the impact that a no-deal Brexit could have on the ability of the UK music industry to sell merchandising and move equipment when they are touring in mainland Europe.

‘According to Government guidance for a no-deal Brexit, anyone bringing goods into or taking goods out of the UK in baggage or a small vehicle which they intend to use for business will be forced to declare the goods and pay import duty and VAT before moving them across the border.

‘This could have a drastic impact on our members to sell merchandise and transport equipment on European tours and result in a loss of income of up to 40 per cent, threatening the viability of future tours and damaging Britain’s export earnings.’

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