Did you know that Brexit could have a huge impact on the music industry? Today we explore this subject.
Adele. Ed Sheeran. Rag’n’Bone Man. Dua Lipa. The Rolling Stones. Queen + Adam Lambert. These are bands and artists with one major thing in common: their nationality. These are all subjects of the Crown that have become world-famous, filling stadiums, selling albums and singles, headlining festivals around the world.
They are, in turn, facing a brand new challenge that has nothing to do with creativity: their home country leaving the European Union. Brexit has caused upheaval in the local gambling business and movie industry, it threatens the free movement of workers, food security, the availability of medicine, and, it seems, it may also affect the local music industry in several ways.
Record sales (and streams) and live events are the two main sources of revenue for labels
Both of them are very lucrative for UK-based bands and record labels. In 2017, the British recording industry reported £2.6 billion (R48 billion) in exports (with Ed Sheeran topping the chart) and the live events accounted for £1 billion (R18 billion) in revenues, with The Rolling Stones, Sir Paul McCartney, and Coldplay being the most successful live acts in 2017.
It’s a rushed clusterf**k
Music, like many other items, is a “product” from a purely business point of view – and is subject to a distinct yet similar set of rules, usually having to do with distribution deals, royalties, and taxes on those royalties.
A Brexit deal that is not well-thought-out could harm the emerging UK musical scene, some local industry bodies have warned. Artists need a strong Brexit deal that will allow them to tour freely, that protects their music rights, and that prevents the physical recordings of their songs (CD, vinyl) being stalled in transit between the UK and the EU.
And most importantly, that the independent record labels from the country, like XL Recordings (home to Adele, among others) or Rough Trade (with Liam Gallagher under its umbrella) don’t face restrictions when it comes to their staff’s and artists’ travel across Europe. Plus, that they don’t pay more taxes on their royalties than they should.
What does all this mean?
First of all, there’s the question of touring. Whenever an emerging band from the UK will prepare for a tour outside the country, it will have to deal with much more red tape, both for the band members and the equipment they take on the tour with them. Then, there is the question of tax withholdings, tariffs, and royalty payments on their overseas revenues.
Problems may appear when an artist from overseas is invited to play at an event in the UK, too – they will need to obtain a visa to enter the UK, and this process can often be overcomplicated, difficult, often humiliating enough for them to simply give up on it entirely.
The United Kingdom gave the world legendary acts like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Elton John, Queen, David Bowie, George Michael, and the list could go on and on. It would be a shame if it would become a “cultural jail”, as Irish punk rock legend and activist Bob Geldof warned in his open letter sent to then-Prime Minister Theresa May last October.
Watch this space for updates in the Opinion category on Running Wolf’s Rant.