let the music move

Let The Music Move: UK Music publishes new testimonials on Brexit and touring

Let The Music Move invites all artists, music professionals and fans to call on the UK government to do more to support the future of the music industry, and mitigate the Brexit-related impacts of restrictions, costs and delays on European touring.

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 21 Jul 2021
  • min read

UK Music have released three Let The Music Move blogs from people in the industry who are facing real issues with the new regulations following the UK’s departure from the EU.

In the first piece, British music export success story Jennifer Johnston discusses how her highly successful career in Europe is in ‘grave danger’ because of the new regulations for visas and work permits. 

‘I have a significant concert career, appearing regularly with Europe’s major orchestras, including the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw and Bavarian Radio Symphony orchestras,’ Jennifer writes. 

She goes on to explain to she currently has upcoming contracts with European orchestras and opera houses but remains unsure about whether she will be able to fulfil because of Visa procedures and paperwork requirements. 

Going into further detail, Jennifer explains, ‘If I am employed to sing a role in a new production of an opera, the standard rehearsal time worldwide is eight weeks, with a performance period of four weeks, which is around 84 days in total.’ 

She continues, ‘In the past I could work in Germany as much as I wanted without having to apply for a visa, but now if I do consecutive productions this takes me over the 90-day limit that the country allows for visa free work.’

Emphasising the seriousness of the situation, Jennifer says, ‘If I lose work because organisations do not want to deal with the uncertainty and paperwork of employing a British singer, that potentially puts my career in serious jeopardy.’

‘If European work disappears there is not enough work in the UK to sustain the numbers of British opera singers that exist. This is especially the case post-pandemic, with theatre and the music industry having been severely impacted restrictions, and uncertainty as to how long it will take to recover.’

The second blog sees Ross Patel, manager of Bristol-based Elder Island, sets out the extra costs and red tape now facing the musical group post-Brexit ahead of their European tour next year. The group was forced to postpone its planned 2020 tour because of COVID-19 to 2022. 

Ross says, ‘Due to the COVID-19 postponement, we now potentially face significant additional and unexpected costs for work permits and carnets estimated at over £2,500, due to the UK having now left the EU, which we cannot factor in as the deals have already been negotiated.

‘If not for the band taking the hit on these additional costs, it would have meant removing the Spanish shows altogether. The knock-on impact being a loss of future earnings, inability to employ the small business entrepreneurial crew that tour with the band, and loss of momentum in a competitive market.’

He continues, ‘We seriously considered having to cut other dates, losing more earnings and momentum in other markets like Germany and Poland as the revenue from one show contributes to the overall tour costs.

‘If we did cut the dates, this would all drastically impact the band’s business. We would also see a drop in streaming revenue from the markets where we don’t perform.’

In the final blog, KB Event’s managing director Stuart McPherson, who has worked with the likes of Ed Sheeran, explains the incredible lengths his business has had to go to continue to operate and the struggles ahead.

Stuart describes how he and his company spent three years compiling strategies for the various possible outcomes Brexit deal outcomes.

‘Under the current Brexit deal, the implications for touring are immense. The new cabotage and customs rules under Brexit have changed the future of touring beyond all recognition,’ he writes. 

‘Planning a tour is no longer simply about the legality of drivers’ hours and what schedules it is physically possible to achieve. We are now forced to schedule in truck swaps, border waiting times and the inevitable stops from EU police who may not care that the UK known trucking company is now running on Republic of Ireland plates – a move we made so we could continue to operate.’

Describing further logistical hurdles, McPherson says, ‘The final twist of the knife is that myself and my transport managers – who have over 60 years of operational experience between us – are no longer qualified to operate trucks in the EU.

‘My frustration in having no option than to be taught what I already know is only surpassed by the fact that we find ourselves here at all.

‘Pre-pandemic, our industry was worth £70 billion to the UK economy. The financial burden for opening up our EU company to allow us to continue working with less restriction within the EU has already topped £200k. This will exceed £500k before we are fully live. This is on top of the impact of the pandemic.

Stuart closes by stating, ‘If a resolution to this problem cannot be found, we will need to split our fleet, which further reduces the number of touring trucks we will have available to service tours covering the UK and the EU.

‘We do look forward to the return of touring in 2022 with huge excitement – but just a little apprehension.’

Read Jennifer, Ross and Stuart’s blogs in full on the UK Music website.