UK Music boss warns Brexit could put live music at risk

The UK's break from the European Union could have knock-on effects for touring artists

The CEO of UK Music has warned Brexit could pose a risk to the country’s live music industry and touring acts.

The terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union were approved by 27 EU leaders on Saturday (November 24). The country must leave the EU by March 29, 2019 since Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 29, 2017, although an extension could be given if all EU members agree.

In a letter to May, Michael Dugher, CEO of UK Music – the umbrella organisation that represents industry groups such as PRS (Performing Right Society), PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited), and the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) – said Brexit could threaten the development of musical talent in Britain.


“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,” Dugher wrote. “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.”

He continued to highlight Brexit’s potential impact on overseas musicians visiting the UK. “UK musicians need to be able to move swiftly, often at very short notice, across Europe to take up offers of work, while overseas musicians need similar freedoms to come to play in our world-renowned recording studios, grassroots music venues or festival circuit,” he said.

“The clock is ticking. We need an end to the uncertainty and an urgent and clear commitment from the Government to maintain the freedom to work for the music industry.”

Earlier this year, BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor issued a similar warning about the potential negative impact Brexit could have on the British music industry. “Our music not only enriches the lives of fans around the world, it makes a major contribution to the UK economy through overseas sales and by attracting numerous visitors to the UK,” he said.

Meanwhile, viewers of BBC Two’s Politics Live were confused last week (November 23) when Wheatus frontman Brendan B Brown appeared on the programme to discuss Brexit. The musician said touring the UK had allowed him to speak to young fans about their worries over leaving the EU.