As the summer’s Brexit negotiations draw near. But the question of how the outcome will affect us and our livelihoods is increasingly relevant. Apart from the weakening of the pound. the true effects of leaving the EU remain to be seen. Assuming, as seems increasingly likely, the negotiations result in a ‘hard Brexit’. With no free market or free movement, the impact on the music sector will be significant. There are several, mostly negative effects, that we can likely expect after the divorce takes place.
One of the biggest and most noticeable will be freedom of movement. This will affect musicians and the industry in several ways. Bands and businesses will struggle to hire members or crew from within the EU. Therefore limiting their pool of talent to draw from. Equally worrying is how much more complex it will be for bands both in the UK and the EU to perform and tour in each other’s territory. Complex and expensive visas and work permits could result in incidents such as Skepta’s US tour cancellation in 2016 becoming the norm on the continent.
As already mentioned, the pound has dropped in value against the euro back during the eventful summer last year. But it’s shown signs of gaining again. It’s unclear how the pound will look over the next year or two, but the effect of a weaker pound remain the same. Small businesses and artists will probably be feeling the bite of this the most. Because as their music sales are worth less in real terms, and the equipment they buy. Especially from Europe, will be more expensive. It’s not all bad news though – weak currencies attract foreign investments. Which could make for some great opportunities for businesses in the sector.
Return of Vinyl
The return of vinyl, largely preferred by independent labels and artists, will probably be affected. Most vinyl pressing facilities that produce for the UK market are located in European countries such as Poland. If a ‘hard Brexit’ means leaving the single market. Tariffs on these goods will increase the cost of vinyl, something that will affect artists and fans alike.
The meteoric rise of the music festival may also feel the pinch – at least the European ones. Tomorrowland, Outlook, Exit and others may all lose out on UK visitors, as travel between Britain and Europe becomes that little bit more difficult. This loss might actually be good news for festivals on home soil. Attendance to Glastonbury and Download have dipped a little since their heyday in the 2000s. These native festivals may become the simpler and easier alternative for many.
So far we’ve only really considered the impact of trade, movement and law. A major benefit that the EU provides to the UK creative industries is funding. Various projects and funds have resulted in millions of euros being poured into venues. Also into non-profit studios and training schemes. Whether or not the UK government will replace these funds from its own pocket is yet to be seen.
Although UK Music’s advocacy for the industry will no doubt do good to mitigate some of the effects of Brexit. those in the music business should keep their wits about them. The uncertainty can be headache inducing, but it’s worth remembering: that periods of transition almost always produce great innovation and invention. Channelling the uncertainty into productive action and hard work will ensure this. Because one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors will continue to be the gold standard across the globe. Brexit or not!
Article by Joseph Matthews.