Key information

You can help Save Music

The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. This means that freedom of movement – which gives British musicians the right to work in the EU without the need for a visa – will cease after the transition period. There is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the possibility remains that the UK will leave the EU without a comprehensive agreement concerning trade, work visas and security on 31 December 2020. This is especially the case now we have lost valuable time to COVID-19.

If British musicians cannot work easily in the EU, this will damage the UK’s cultural influence and threaten our world-class music industry.

The UK’s globally-dominant music industry contributes £5.2 billion a year to the UK economy. It forms a central part of our creative industries which, valued at £101.5 billion a year to the UK economy, are worth more than the automotive, aerospace, life sciences, oil and gas industries combined.

In the event of the political declaration not being comprehensively ratified, travel between the UK and the EU27 will become more complex. If you are an ISM member, read our no-deal advice page which will still be applicable. For those who are not ISM members, visit our blog which sets out the top 10 things you need to know to help prepare for Brexit.

Will Music Survive Brexit?

The ISM's fifth report, Will Music Survive Brexit? found that:

  • Just over 50% of survey respondents have identified an impact on their professional work since the EU referendum in 2016 – 99% of whom said it was a negative impact. This is a slight increase from last year and reflects a year-on-year increase – 19% in 2016, 26% in 2017, 40% in 2018, just under 50% in 2019, just over 50% in 2020.
  • 71% of respondents cited difficulty securing future bookings in EU/EEA countries (for reasons such as reluctance from EU promoters to offer work and musicians’ inability to confirm future work due to uncertainty caused by Brexit).
  • More than half of survey respondents (56%) said they expected to be offered less work now that the UK has left the EU.
  • 92% of respondents said they were concerned about their future ability to work in EU/EEA countries, of which 64% were ‘very concerned’ and 28% were ‘mildly concerned’.
  • Nearly a fifth of respondents (18%) claimed they had experienced a loss of earnings due to reduced or cancelled work in the EU/EEA as a result of Brexit, and a further 36% were not sure.
  • There has been a 14% increase in the number of respondents not earning in the EU/EEA since the referendum. Overall, respondents are earning less in the EU/EEA than they were before the referendum.
  • 78% of respondents visit the EU/EEA at least once a year; 20% of respondents visit the EU/EEA more than 11 times per year.
  • Nearly three quarters (73%) of respondents spend more than a week in the EU/EEA per year; roughly a third (32%) of respondents spend more than a month in the EU/EEA per year.
  • 11% of respondents have less than a week’s notice between being offered work and taking it.
  • Nearly two thirds (61%) of respondents reported that they were concerned about the transportation of instruments and equipment to the EU/EEA in the future.
  • Nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents claimed they would not be able to afford private health insurance if the EHIC scheme is revoked without an equivalent in place.
  • 96% of respondents want reciprocal arrangements on tax and social security to remain in place, or equivalents negotiated.
    Just over a third (34%) of respondents said that they travel to the USA to work, and more than a third (37%) of respondents travel to the Rest of the World (e.g. Japan, China, Russia) to work.

What will happen to musicians if the UK leaves the EU with a 'bare bones' deal?

A 'bare bones' deal that does not make comprehensive provisions for travel and trade will cause major disruption to the UK’s music industry which is worth £5.2 billion to the UK economy. The lack of coordination in this scenario will result in chaos for many of those who have to travel to the EU for work – and freelance, touring musicians, often on low earnings will be amongst the hardest hit. The ISM has calculated that musicians who travel to the EU27 and carry an instrument may incur additional costs of up to £1,000 per year in this scenario.

These costs include:

  • Carnets – temporary international customs documents that allow instruments and sound equipment to move temporarily outside the UK – which cost in the region of £500-700, depending on the value of the goods. It is currently possible to take instruments to countries in the EU for free and purchasing a Carnet is a significant extra cost to be forced upon musicians which would become a huge barrier for many musicians touring the EU27.
  • Private medical insurance, which would become essential in a 'bare bones' deal scenario as EHIC provision would cease, would set a musician without a pre-existing medical condition back around £70 per year, but it could be as high as £320 for a musician with a pre-existing medical condition.
  • Musical Instrument Certificates, which are only required for instruments containing endangered species according to CITES (including ivory, Brazilian rosewood, tortoiseshell) are currently free but are set to incur a charge in 2020 (amount unknown). Examples: some violin bows contain ivory and some guitars contain Brazilian rosewood.
  • Musicians who drive to the continent will need to purchase an International Driving Permit costing £5.50.
  • If A1 forms become obsolete after 31 December 2020, musicians must also ensure that they are not liable for double deductions of social security payments in other EU countries by contacting the relevant EU social security institution to check.
  • If visas are introduced to work in the EU27/EEA, this is likely to cause considerable financial and administrative burden to musicians.

How can we Save Music?

If freedom of movement isn’t maintained for musicians, then we need a two-year work visa.

This would allow British musicians to collaborate with European musicians and perform for European audiences without needing to organise a visa for every trip they make. Given that musicians’ work in the EU can often be organised at very short notice, a visa that is valid for two years is vital. Musicians will lose work if they need to have a visa application processed for every trip they make.

In the event of a 'bare bones' deal, the Government must fully cover the extra costs musicians will incur in advance of 31 December, or at the very least provide a full compensation scheme to support musicians in the first three years following the transition period.

Music is at risk and we need you to take action

Write to your MP and tell them about your concerns about the impact a bare bones deal will have on your future ability to work in the EU. Tell them that the Government must cover costs that musicians will incur in the event of a 'bare bones' deal and if freedom of movement isn’t maintained, musicians need a two year touring visa so that they can continue to work in Europe. You can use our template letter or write your own. If you are a musician with direct experiences of travelling in Europe, please also share these with your MP in the letter!