#LetTheMusicMove: 200 British Artists Call On Government To Save EU Touring

Crossing the channel and touring Europe will be much harder for UK artists post-Brexit.
Klaus Vedfelt
– Crossing the channel and touring Europe will be much harder for UK artists post-Brexit.
The UK government is under heavy pressure from artists and industry professional to address the existing obstacles.

Over 200 iconic British artists, among them Radiohead, Chemical Brothers and Annie Lennox, have issued a call on government to fix what they describe as “insurmountable financial and logistical barriers” to EU touring created by Brexit.

The campaign, dubbed #LetTheMusicMove, was launched by the Music Managers Forum and the Featured Artists Coalition. It comes on the back of an open letter to prime minister Boris Johnson, signed by 50 UK music artists, which demands urgent action to end Brexit-related cost, paperwork and bureaucracy currently preventing EU touring for up-and-coming artists in particular, and especially in light of a crisis that has shut down the entire industry for more than a year.
This latest call on government, which reiterates the same main points, has been co-signed by more than 200 artists, including Wolf Alice, Annie Lennox, Biffy Clyro, IDLES, Radiohead, Anna Calvi, Skunk Anansie, Everything Everything, Bob Geldof, Mark Knopfler, Two Door Cinema Club, Rick Astley, Ghostpoet, Nina Nesbitt, The Chemical Brothers, Portishead’s Beth Gibbons, Blur’s David Rowntree, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and many more.
The list of co-signees is ever growing. They point out the main issue artists are facing under the new post-Brexit rules:
– “UK touring vehicles are limited to only three stops in Europe before having to return home, making tours (the majority of which start in the UK) impossible.
– “UK musicians require a hugely expensive goods passport (a “carnet”) to tour Europe, including a bond for their instruments and equipment
– “UK musicians and their teams are not able to tour Europe without obtaining certain visas and work permissions far in advance, causing a logistical nightmare for Europe-wide tours.”
David Rowntree, drummer from the band Blur and practicing solicitor.
Philip Toscano/PA Images via Getty Images
– David Rowntree, drummer from the band Blur and practicing solicitor.
Rowntree is one of the co-signees of the latest campaign urging the UK government to fix European touring for music artists.

For instance, artists planning to perform in Spain, the UK’s second biggest touring market, face an unprecedented burden of work permits, paperwork and travel costs making many shows and festival performances unviable. 

These hurdles are a threat to the UK’s position as the second biggest exporter of music in the world. Europe is the industry’s closest and most important international market. 
According to data provided by the campaign’s initiators, UK artists played almost four times as many shows across the EU than they did in North America in 2019, sustaining an estimated 33,000 British jobs.
“European tours are also a breeding ground for the development of UK music talent, often acting as the springboard for new and mid-level artists. It is also a significant source of income – according to research by the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), 44% of UK musicians were earning up to half of their earnings in the EU, and nearly a third spent more than 30 days in the EU for work per year,” a statement on the launch of #LetTheMusicMove reads.
The most up to date estimates value the UK live music sector at £4.5 billion, making “the successful return of touring is absolutely vital, not only for the ecosystem of live music industry performers, workers and businesses, but also for the UK economy which risks losing one of its finest exports.
“There is now a growing sense of urgency for the Government to act,” the statement concludes, particularly on the following issues:
– 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-27 countries, without costly permits and bureaucracy
– To ensure European artists have reciprocal freedoms and access to perform at UK venues and festivals
Peggy Seeger performing at Cecil Sharpe House in London, UK.
Robin Little/Redferns
– Peggy Seeger performing at Cecil Sharpe House in London, UK.
Seeger is one of more than 200 UK artists, who co-signed the latest campaign urging the UK government to facilitate easy touring for artists post-Brexit.

Comments from artists below:

David Rowntree, Blur: “Blur played our first gig outside the UK in Rotterdam in February 1991. We just jumped on a ferry with no restrictions for us or our gear. That August we were back in the Netherlands, followed by dates in Germany, France and then on into a full European tour.
“If we were starting out today trying to do the same, there would be a vast range of bureaucracy and costs, with different regimes in every country. We simply wouldn’t be able to afford it. The UK Government has to take this issue seriously and support touring artists. The future of British music is at stake.”
Simone Butler, Primal Scream: ‘It’s essential that bands, artists, musicians and DJs can travel Europe at every level of their career. Europe is part of the geographic working space. To make it financially and logistically unrealistic to do shows and festival will be halting the livelihoods and careers of generations of musicians.”
Skunk Anansie: “EU touring and the need to get the right process in place for simple and economical access to Europe is crucial at this time more than ever. It is the life blood of bands and artists, not just financially, but to expand their fanbases and deliver their art to a wider audience and the home of many bands to hone their crafts. 
“Especially now, after the extreme financial impact of the pandemic, this touring can, and will be, the lifesaver for many bands, artists, and crews. We need action, we need support, and we need access, and we need it now!”
Mark Knopfler: “To take a van with your gear and perform across Europe is an essential start for the careers of many UK musicians. Without immediate government action to address the bureaucratic barriers put in place since January 1st, a whole generation of musicians will simply not be able to start or continue their touring careers.”
Peggy Seeger: “In a world of visas and officialdom, membership in the EU guaranteed borderless ease in travel. Now we are faced with paperwork at every border, problems with visas and permissions, even more money to be paid out before money is earned. I am objecting on behalf of every wandering musician, crew member and the music industry as a whole.”
Annabella Coldrick
– Annabella Coldrick
CEO of the Music Managers Forum, one of the main initiators of the #letthemusicmove campaign.

IDER: “Live touring in the EU has been an integral part to our growth as a band. We have gained some of our biggest audiences in Europe and we feel lucky to have been afforded the opportunity to do so over the last few years. The implications of Brexit’s restrictions – financially and logistically – are devastating, and as an independent band in this current climate, we can no longer imagine touring and promoting our music in Europe as we have done so in the past. 

“We feel deeply saddened for the new and upcoming bands and artists who will not benefit from the incredible opportunities touring in the EU has to offer. Something has to be done to save our live music industry.”
Tim Clark, manager for Robbie Williams: “British artists have benefitted hugely from being able to tour in Europe particularly since the need for visas and carnets were abolished on our entry into the EU. The financial ramifications of any reintroduction of red tape will make it extremely difficult for all but the biggest artists to tour profitably.”
David Martin, CEO, Featured Artists Coalition:  “The UK’s music industry is a success story.  It contributes enormously to the economy and provides the country with unparalleled soft power, yet we have been dealt a no deal Brexit. 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.”
Annabella Coldrick, CEO, Music Managers Forum: “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.” 
Greg Parmley.
– Greg Parmley.
Head of ILMC and CEO of the UK’s live entertainment industry body LIVE.

Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE: “Despite sustaining thousands of UK jobs and bringing millions into the economy, the live music industry has been forgotten in the UK Government’s Brexit deal.

“Touring is the lifeblood of the UK music industry – sustaining musicians both financially and turbo-charging their transition into iconic music brands. #LetTheMusicMove is calling on Government to urgently work with EU member states to fix our abandoned sector, and allow touring to take place for generations to come.” 
Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, Chief Executive of UK Music: “European touring is crucial to thousands of British musicians and crew, and the immense challenges they now face need urgent attention. The #LetTheMusicMove campaign has fantastic support and shows how united and determined our sector is to resolve this problem. 
“The Government has shown with their recent trade deal with Australia that visa barriers can be eased and trade given a crucial boost where there is enough will and political determination. 
“It is vital that the Government now shows the same political will in its talks with EU member states to support our world-leading industry which contributes £5.8 billion to the UK economy, £2.9 billion in exports and supports around 200,000 jobs.”