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How Will Brexit Affect The Music Industry?

Written by Courtney Davies

If over the past year the live music industry hasn’t been hit enough by the pandemic, with the Let the Music Play campaign beginning in the summer of 2020 as a demonstration of support, musicians are now being denied visa-free touring in the EU after the Government rejected the deal. 

Ed Sheeran, Liam Gallagher and Elton John are alongside more than 100 other musicians who have signed a letter that was published in The Times claiming that they and their teams have been “shamefully failed” by the government. The letter helped fight for not only their team but for small upcoming musicians who may not be able to afford these costs, writing: “The extra costs will make many tours unviable, especially for young emerging musicians who are already struggling to keep their heads above water owing to the Covid ban on live music. This negotiating failure will tip many performers over the edge.”

The signed letter also added: “We urge the government to do what it said it would do and negotiate paperwork- free travel in Europe for British artists and their equipment.”

The music industry has already been impacted dramatically this last year due to Covid-19, and it has not only been the artists that have suffered but the venues and the production team who help to bring it all to life. The crew and backstage team, alongside venues, will more than likely also be affected by the decision to reject visa-free touring in the EU because fewer artists will be travelling. This decision will also particularly affect small music venues, such as those in clubs and bars who rely on emerging or niche musicians and who may not be able to cover this cost.

But these extra costs will not only be a concern for upcoming artists- other successful musicians will be hit with this cost as well. As a result, over the next few years, we may start to see ticket prices for live shows rise to help cover this financial extra. For many fans, higher ticket prices may be a struggle and determine whether they see the artist or not, no matter how passionate they are about them.

The public and fans have shown their passion for live music and their love for seeing their favourite artists perform live by signing a petition for artists to “Seek Europe-wide Visa-free work permit for Touring Professionals and Artists”. 280,000 people have signed this petition and musicians and celebrities used their platforms to help spread the link. Towards the end of last year, Louis Tomlinson tweeted: “If you’re in the UK and a music fan please sign this petition to help UK musicians tour Europe after Brexit!”

The UK Government responded to this petition on the 14th January 2021, commenting that: “During our negotiations, we proposed measures to allow creative professionals to travel and perform in both the UK and EU, without needing work-permits. Unfortunately, the EU rejected these proposals”. 

As a music lover myself and someone who has been going to concerts and festivals from a young age, I know the happiness you experience when you see the artist live. Including the stress of buying the tickets, sitting waiting for them to come on sale, organising it with your friends and experiencing the show live. All of which is something I miss and can’t wait to get back to.

But if ticket prices rise to help cover these costs for the artists some musicians may find that they are selling fewer tickets and therefore have to play to smaller crowds in smaller venues. Especially, musicians who had tours planned this past year and have had to postpone them due to Covid-19, because they will not have factored in this cost as at the time visa-free travelling was allowed.

This could result in some artists having to not only decrease the venue capacity but also reduce the length of their tours. Therefore, we can expect to see that there will be a rise in demand for tickets for live shows. This will make ticket re-selling more likely as people will realise that many people will pay a ridiculous price for a ticket, because of the fewer shows and smaller venues.

Currently, it is unknown when tours will start again or when we will even be able to stand in a crowd of people. But until it is possible to do so there are various virtual concerts and festivals to keep us occupied and reminiscing on the better times. Although, we may find that concerts and tours won’t be the same again not only due to the effects of Covid-19, because tours may be smaller, some venues may no longer exist, ticket prices may be dearer, or artists won’t be able to afford visa costs. 

Featured image courtesy of Bantersnaps from Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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