WORDS: OTTO BALFOUR | PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
According to the Bristish Government, crashing out of the European Union on the 31st October without a deal will not affect our presence on the global stage. The tumultuous time the UK is undergoing is due to a few extreme right-wing culprits. Built on the false promises of an antisemitic, oligarchical caricature of a man, we are at the mercy of a few selfish, white collar criminals. Cutting through all the lies the unelected Tory cabinet have spun, the NHS will be privatised, our neighbours in Ireland will never be so far away, and our economy will be destroyed, we’re all fucked.
“Import Duty and VAT is set to be placed on all merchandise that crosses the border with bands.”
The Music Industry is set to take a significant blow too. The UK and European touring circuits have always had close links. It’s rare for an American artist to announce a UK tour without tacking on some European dates, or vice-versa. Despite being such close neighbours, the borders between British and European terminals have always been relatively lax for touring artists to cross. Free movement within the EU is beneficial to all who need to regularly travel for work, and the current free trade agreement breaks down the barrier between the UK and EU. With Brexit looming, this is set to change significantly.
To begin with, the border crossing will be A LOT stricter. Import Duty and VAT is set to be placed on all merchandise that crosses the border with bands. With record sales dropping, and the pitiful pay artists’ receive for each stream, the only money really seen by musicians nowadays is through merchandise. For any independant band without the financial support of a label; this is a huge cost to incur prior to playing the shows that will significantly build up the fan base their career’s foundations are laid upon, and will be detrimental to the developing artists’ ability to progress up the ladder. This means every drum stick, pair of socks, badge, t shirt, guitar string and instrument will have to be inspected by a customs official which will take a huge amount of time. On tour, time is money.
“On tour, time is money…”
A No-Deal Brexit will make crossing the border comparable to travelling to the USA. In order for a British or European band to perform in the United States, they must first obtain an Entertainment Visa for the duration of their tour. Coming in at around $2000 for a month long tour for a four piece band, tour manager, and tech, on top of flights, van hire and other necessities, the border between the UK and Europe is set to introduce its own visa. It is unclear what the cost of this will be at the current time due to the uncertainty of a deal/no-deal crash out. The introduction of Entertainment Visas alongside other charges will destroy the beautiful relationship British and European bands and fans. The end of free movement is nigh. Having a Carnet System that encourages free movement across borders is a progressive system. No band wants to add hours onto a tour for roadside border checks, carnet forms and wok visa checks. It is unfeasible.
A relatively undisclosed repercussion of Brexit will be the pressing of physical CDs and vinyl records. A large portion of vinyl records in the continent are printed in Germany due to the lower cost price, and would have to be subjected to harsh customs enforcement. Jon Tolley of Banquet Records noted “When I get records from the US, they take ages to get through customs, and if that happens with every record that comes in, I don’t know how we’ll deal with it.” For an independent band, this will have dire consequences. For major labels, most of whom have storage facilities in France, it is set to increase the time on import which tacks on time and extra costs to the planned release campaign, the profit margin for physical CDs will be even more barren than it is now. With the fall in the pound and rising import taxes weaning their way into our every-day lives, a No-Deal would severely impair the viability of a career in music. Compounding the above and the loss of job security for the likes of roadies due to the imposition of work visas, bands will be forced to use local crews on tour in the EU.
All aspects of the music industry will take a blow. There is not a scenario in which the industry won’t have to downsize. Venues, record stores, musicians, road crew, technicians, instrument shops etc. will all be affected; for the majority, they are not being given a viable future.
The time to act is now.
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