UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin's lessons from the Brexit battle for touring artists

UK Music boss Jamie Njoku-Goodwin's lessons from the Brexit battle for touring artists

Post-Brexit barriers remain for UK musicians and crews who want to tour in the EU, but some progress has been made with Spain changing its rules for short-term touring.

Here, UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwin looks ahead to what the Brexit battle could mean for greater industry cooperation in 2022…

The last 18 months have been incredibly difficult for the music industry. Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the sector, knocking billions off our value and wiping out tens of thousands of jobs. 

For many other sectors, the global rollout of the vaccine means an impending post-pandemic recovery. However, it isn’t just Covid-19 that has crippled our sector – the music industry has suffered the double whammy of a pandemic and Brexit simultaneously.

International travel and Covid-19 restrictions on the continent are still in flux, but the true extent of the hurdles facing musicians and crews who need to work and tour in Europe is becoming clearer. Costly visas and work permits, the imposition of burdensome cabotage laws, carnets, new red tape for exporters, to name but a few. 

Post-Brexit barriers remain for thousands of musicians and crews. It’s been heartbreaking hearing the testimony of musicians who, after 18 months of being unable to work because of Covid-19, now find their international careers being devastated by red tape and bureaucracy. 

Since the referendum result in 2016, UK Music has warned of potential barriers, and we have been fighting to remove these obstacles as part of the industry-wide Let The Music Move campaign.

It’s been incredibly inspiring seeing the whole sector come together

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin

It’s been incredibly inspiring seeing the whole sector come together around a shared determination to ensure musicians and crews can work and tour in Europe. Artists, managers, promoters, businesses and technical crews have joined forces to pressure the government and EU member states into taking action.

There has been some amazing work from associations like the Musicians’ Union, the LIVE Touring Group, the Association of British Orchestras, AIM, ISM and countless others. Legendary figures like Sir Elton John have made their voices heard, to ensure the opportunities that helped propel them to stardom are not denied to the next generation of musicians.

Thanks to this fantastic work, we are starting to see progress. Most recently, Spain has changed its rules for short-term touring, meaning musicians and crews who are there for less than 90 days should not require costly visas. This is incredibly welcome, but there is still lots more to do – in particular on the issue of cabotage, which presents huge challenges and makes many tours impossible.

The post-Brexit challenges facing our industry are still a long way away from being resolved, but the unprecedented cooperation in pursuit of this shared goal shows how much our industry can achieve when we pull together and row in the same direction.

In 2022, I hope we can apply that same spirit to the other areas we want to see progress in, including post-Brexit touring, music education, the pandemic, discrimination and ensuring our industry is as open and inclusive as possible.


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