Michael Dugher, chief executive of UK Music, has urged the government to end the "uncertainty and lack of clarity” facing the music business over Brexit.
He called on ministers to agree a deal by December 31, 2017 for a transition period after the UK leaves the European Union in 2019 to minimise disruption to the industry and avoid a “cliff-edge” Brexit.
Dugher said the government should commit to continued membership of the Single Market during the transition period to give much-needed clarity to the music industry, which is worth more than £4 billion to the UK economy.
In an article for HuffPost today, Dugher said: “The Mercury Awards has once again showcased the incredible talent and diversity that is British music at its best.
“The voracious appetite for British music around the world has never been greater and has pushed our exports up 11% to a new high of £365 million last year, according to recent figures from the BPI.”
But Dugher warned it was crucial that the government moves swiftly to safeguard the industry and the tens of thousands of jobs it sustains, as well as the sector’s thriving export trade.
He said: “It's true that leaving the EU may open the door to new trade deals and could unlock barriers in established markets like the US.
“But the current uncertainty and lack of clarity about the government’s Brexit plans threatens our success. It means some investment opportunities are on hold and long-term planning is seriously hampered.
“That's why it was welcome that the Conservative government and the Labour opposition are now talking of a post-Brexit transition period that will entail interim arrangements to help business adjust to what is likely to be a seismic set of changes.”
He added: “The government must now prioritise achieving an agreement on a transitionary period by the end of this year to provide a degree of certainty.
“To give that much-needed clarity, the government must also commit to continued membership of the Single Market as part of any transitionary period. This would avoid a cliff-edge Brexit and allow individuals and businesses to stagger any changes in operations.”
Dugher said minister should also seek a single EU-wide live music 'touring passport' to avoid new restrictions, costs and bureaucracy on artists and musicians.
He added: “As EU negotiator Michel Barnier said, the clock is well and truly ticking on the countdown to Brexit Day on 29 March, 2019. Brexit represents a huge potential threat to the British music industry. We can't afford to mess this up.”
By Charlie Macnamara