Earlier today, WME and more than 50 of its clients sent a public letter to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, encouraging the government to urgently tackle the live touring crisis brought about by the Brexit trade deal with the European Union.
In order for artists, their crew and equipment to move between the U.K. and EU, additional permissions are now required, including work visas, carnets (goods passport) and permits. The additional cost, administrative burden and delays associated with obtaining these permissions are “the latest threat to an industry already ravaged by the devastating impact of the pandemic” and will prove “particularly onerous for new and emerging talent for whom live touring in the U.K./EU may no longer be a reality,” a statement from WME reads.
In the letter below, agents and music artists ask that the government act without any further delay and engage with its EU counterparts to ensure visa-free touring for artists.
RT Hon Boris Johnson MP
10 Downing Street
London, SW1A 2AA
Dear Prime Minister:
The UK music industry, which sustains over 197,000 full-time jobs, is amongst the most affected by COVID-19’s devastating impacts, and thousands of musicians whose livelihoods depend on touring are keen to get back to work. However, due to the changes brought about by Brexit, we are facing a crisis that may prevent that from happening, and we need your help.
Over the past several decades, the UK has experienced a consistent upward trajectory in live touring, bringing with it a significant and positive economic impact. Much of this success was due to our ability to tour the EU with much greater ease. 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.
Due to new immigration rules, UK musicians and our teams will not be able to tour Europe without obtaining certain visas and work permissions (in addition to those permissions required to transport equipment cross-border and the changes to the rules around cabotage), far in advance. In some territories, the process to obtain these work visas can take months, causing a logistical nightmare as many engagements are booked on much tighter timeframes, and which is made more cumbersome if an artist is required to surrender their passport throughout each visa application process. Additionally, should the booking need to be rescheduled the process starts all over again. These new challenges will impact all musicians, and unfortunately, emerging talent in particular, as touring becomes cost prohibitive for most.
We welcome your recent promise in Parliament to fix this crisis facing our industry. It is encouraging to hear that the Government is working ‘flat out’ with EU Member States to iron out the huge challenges we now face, but as the live events industry begins to reopen around the UK and Europe, a successful resolution must be found quickly.
To deliver on your commitment, we urge you to find solutions that ensure performers and their creative teams do not need to obtain a visa and work permit each time they seek paid work in any EU country. We, in collaboration with our industry partners and in support of the campaign #LetTheMusicMove, seek and implore you to deliver on your commitment, and urge you to find solutions that ensure performers and their creative teams can seek paid work in any EU country without impediment.
With planning already underway for tours this year, there is a limited window of opportunity to solve the issues threatening our industry. Reducing the complexities of new border regulations and the prohibitive costs to UK musicians touring in the EU will open the door to an exciting and vibrant future for UK talent.
We would ask that you urgently consider our request to fervently engage on this issue to ensure that additional paperwork and costs are removed to enable musicians to tour Europe once more and bring joy to millions of people.
Thank you for your consideration.
Alison Goldfrapp & Will Gregory (Goldfrapp)
Danny L Harle
Hot Since 82
Mumford & Sons
Sad Night Dynamite
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs