If travel broadens the mind, what will staying at home do to the music industry?
Like many people in the biz, I’ve just returned from two weeks away – except this year, ‘away’ meant persistent drizzle in Snowdonia, rather than constant sunshine in more exotic foreign climes.
Turns out, it was actually the ideal location for growing to love Taylor Swift’s incredible Folklore album even more, but it did make me ponder what a more permanent lack of international travel might do to the UK music business.
It’s not just the holidays, where execs traditionally find Ibiza floorfillers and emerging Eurohits. How about the overseas conferences and festivals where new acts are discovered and fresh scenes stumbled across? Or the international business trips where contacts are made and productive business relationships forged? Have you factored in the global support tours where artists and songwriters find new influences and collaborate?
And it works both ways of course: what is the absence of visiting execs and bands doing to the international prospects of UK acts? With the best will in the world, a Zoom call or livestream is no substitute for the buzz and connection of being in the same space.
Coronavirus and Brexit could conspire to make the UK more insular than ever before
With disruption and possible quarantine likely to be a risk for anyone travelling abroad for the foreseeable future, this is a long-term issue. By the time low-hassle travel returns, we may have got out of the habit. Even if we haven’t, the looming prospect of Brexit – which, lest we forget amidst the chaos of a global pandemic, is still happening at the end of this year – could conspire to make the UK more insular than ever before.
The British business can’t afford that to happen. While the coronavirus crisis has caused many UK media outlets to focus more on local, readily available talent, Britain’s unique music scene is built on its ability to punch above its weight internationally.
That’s already harder to do than ever before thanks to the weight of global streaming playlists. So, even if you’re on a staycation, the biz needs to have international affairs on its mind this summer.
After all, sometimes it’s better to travel well than it is to arrive.