Today we should learn if the UK will leave the European Union. Recent polls show the vote could go either way. But how would a Brexit affect the music industry? We look at the impacts from touring artists to fans travelling to gigs and much more. READ AND JOIN THE DISCUSSION:
How will a UK exit from the global music industry?
The major aspects of the music and events industries which could be affected by Britain leaving the EU include: working visas, tax paid on records and merchandise, the touring ability of smaller acts, travel costs, and British fans being able to attend concerts in Europe.
The research looked at each:
- Working Visas: At the moment, artists travelling to the UK require a work permit. However, UK bands don't currently need a working visa to perform in an EU country, as EU membership gives us all the right to work in any country within the EU. If Brexit happens, this could all change and touring Europe could require a working visa.
- Tax: The cost of buying records and merchandise online could also increase for both people in the UK buying from Europe, and people in Europe buying from the UK. At the moment, you don't have to pay VAT or customs duty on imports and exports within the EU, but Brexit may change this.
- Digital downloads could be affected too. Artists currently selling downloads don't have to register for VAT in every EU country.
- Developing acts: The people who would be affected the most by Brexit are smaller acts who rely on touring Europe or heading to European festivals to gain exposure. Bands will only be able to tour if a promoter makes them an offer to perform, and with the additional paperwork, European promoters may be less inclined to bother with smaller acts. For artists who are not in the EU, a Schengen visa costs €60 per person (£45 to £50 depending on the current exchange rate). Four band members, a driver and tour manager puts an extra £300 on the cost of a tour.
- Travel costs: The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) has already warned that Brexit could be a disaster for the travel industry, both for tourists and business travel. The knock-on effects for the music industry – where fans travel as tourists and bands travel as businesses – could be significant. Thanks to Britain’s current membership in the EU, it enjoys the EU-US open skies regulations, which mean flights between EU countries and the US are cheaper, more regular, and can be done to and from far more destinations. However, this could change if Britain leaves the EU.
- Fans travelling abroad for concerts: In 2015, 75% of ticket sales through Ticketbis were for events outside of the UK and in 2014 80% of sales were for events outside of the UK. These sales figures show how popular travelling abroad to see your favourite artists is with music fans in the UK.
“It is difficult to say until the votes are in and new agreements are made, but Brexit could have a huge impact on the music industry in the UK and on music fans across the globe," says Jaime de Miguel from Ticketbis. “Over half (54%) of ticket sales through Ticketbis for events in the UK in 2016 have been from international fans that travel to the UK to attend music events. If the UK was to leave the EU these figures could be seriously affected and opportunities for fans to see their favourite artists live could be slashed.”