Some of the U.K.’s biggest pop stars have joined forces to warn against the damage that a no-deal Brexit will have on the country’s music industry.
“We are about to make a very serious mistake regarding our giant industry and the vast pool of yet undiscovered genius that lives on this little island,” reads an open letter addressed to British Prime Minister Theresa May drafted by Bob Geldof and published in the Observer newspaper.
Its signatories include Ed Sheeran, Damon Albarn, Brian Eno, Jarvis Cocker, Johnny Marr, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, Rita Ora, The Clash’s Paul Simonon, Neil Tennant, Roger Taylor, Sting and classical composers Howard Goodall and Simon Rattle.
Calling for an urgent rethink on Brexit, the letter claims that a no-deal Brexit — whereby the Britain leaves the European Union with no formal agreement over trade relations — impacts on “every aspect of the music industry. From touring, sales, copyright legislation, to royalty collation.”
“We dominate the market and our bands, singers, musicians, writers, producers and engineers work all over Europe and the world. In turn, Europe and the world come to us,” states the letter. “But Brexit threatens, as it does so much else, this vast voice.”
It goes on to say that equipment and studio hire and touring costs have already increased as a result of a fall in the pound following the 2016 referendum, while “squeezed household incomes” mean less people have less money to spend on gigs and music.
Any rise in import and export taxes resulting from Brexit will further damage an industry that’s worth an estimated £4.4 billion a year (according to U.K. Music figures), warns Geldof, who supports the notion of Britain having a second referendum on leaving the EU.
“We have decided to put ourselves inside a self-built cultural jail. The very opposite of wall-destroying, prejudice-denying, ideas-generating that is the very essence of contemporary music,” he rages, calling the potential end to freedom of movement between U.K. and European borders “serious madness.”
“We must take back our future. We must reform and restructure the EU,” he argues, calling on the British government to “save our music, our musicians, our music jobs and our songs.”
Earlier this month, European indie label trade group IMPALA outlined its recommendations to protect the music industry in the U.K. and Europe post-Brexit. They included the British government adopting reforms to copyright law recently approved by the European Parliament and the free movement of artists, crews and equipment across Europe.