In the paper, which outlines the country’s plans for immigration policy after leaving the EU, the Government Migration Advisory Committee state musicians and other workers will need to earn a minimum of £30,000 to be able to apply for a five-year visa.
The government says the new policy, which wouldn’t come into effect until December 31, 2020, will help prioritise higher-skill workers and a new skills-based immigration system would “favour experience and talent over nationality.” People from “low risk” countries will be allowed to visit the UK and work for one year without a job offer.
In regards to touring, the paper suggests visiting bands will still be allowed the same freedom as they are now. “Visitors coming to the UK for short-term business reasons will be able, as now, to carry out a wide range of activities, including permitted paid engagements,” it reads.
UK Music responded to the paper, saying the minimum salary requirement posed a “major threat” to the music industry. “Requiring musicians, songwriters, and producers from the EU to earn salaries of at least £30,000 to work in the UK poses a major threat to the music industry where music creators earn on average £20,504), way below the average for other jobs,” they said in a statement.
They added the UK “may suffer retaliation from EU member states”, including “extra costs and red tape for artists who need to cross borders for their work.”
Deborah Annetts, the Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), also said the policy would be a negative one for British music. “The end of freedom of movement will have a devastating impact on British musicians,” she said. “The introduction of harsher immigration rules after Brexit will cause declining diversity and creativity in the British music industry. It could also potentially lead to the introduction of reciprocal immigration rules by EU countries.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement when releasing the paper: “Today’s proposals are the biggest change to our immigration system in a generation. We are taking a skills-based approach to ensure we can attract the brightest and best migrants to the UK. These measures will boost our economy and benefit the British people.”
Last month, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher warned Brexit could pose a risk to the country’s live music industry and touring acts. In a letter to Theresa May, he wrote: “The ending of free movement with no waiver for musicians will put our fast-growing live music sector, that generates around £1 billion a year for the UK economy, at serious risk. The costly bureaucracy will make touring simply unviable for very many artists who need to earn a living and it delivers a hammer blow to development of future, world-leading British talent.”