Relations between the music industry, artists and the government have soured so far this year.
The source of the discontent: Brexit, of course, and the claims made about the government’s failure to pursue visa-free touring for artists, musicians and crew.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden responded with an article stating the government’s case via NME. But it failed to calm the situation, with big name artists including Elton John, Liam Gallagher and Radiohead using an open letter to The Times to denounce the “negotiating failure”.
Music industry representatives were called into a virtual meeting with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport yesterday (January 20). Attendees included BPI CEO Geoff Taylor, Musicians’ Union general secretary Horace Trubridge, AIM CEO Paul Pacifico and Mark Pemberton, director of the Association of British Orchestras.
According to the FT, Dowden is looking into post-Brexit financial support for the music industry, which is facing higher costs and more red tape for EU touring when that resumes after the pandemic. According to the paper, he urged musicians to use their “star power” to lobby the EU on new visa and work permit rules, which will now vary for UK acts depending on the country.
Dowden told industry leaders that he would consider the case for government support where artists faced extra costs. This could include support to help them organise tours outside Europe as part of a wider export drive.
Dowden announced a working group to find solutions.
We will continue to press for action that resolves the challenges our industry is facing from Brexit
Commenting on the discussion between music industry leaders and Oliver Dowden, UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “The UK music industry has always been a global success story and post-Brexit we should be doing everything we can to help our world-leading musical talent tour abroad and fly the flag for Britain. But the prospect of additional costs and red tape is already deterring many musicians from touring the continent in the future – which is a huge loss both our country and to Europe.
“As an industry, we aren’t interested in playing a blame game. We just want to reach a solution that enables us to continue delivering the positive benefits for the UK that we always have done. So it was welcome to hear the government’s commitment to working to reach a solution, but we will continue to press for action that resolves the challenges our industry is facing from Brexit.”
UK Music’s boss made his case with a comparison to the fishing industry, which has become an area of focus for the government post-Brexit with £23 million in compensation. But at £5.8 billion, the total value of all music sectors is approximately four times that of the UK fishing industry.
“With the fishing industry, the government has shown a willingness to help key national industries adjust to new export requirements,” said Njoku-Goodwin. “As a £5.8 billion industry that supports 200,00 jobs and generates £2.9 billion in exports, the music industry must also be supported through these challenges.”