Will “Brexit” Kill the European Music Scene?

In June of 2016, the United Kingdom (UK) infamously ended their European Union (EU) membership in a surprise vote that became known as the “Brexit”. The fallout of this vote led to chaos in the global markets and politics, but also left an unexpected strain on the arts. Today, musicians will be finding it much harder to travel between the UK and mainland Europe for tours, and music markets may also start to suffer. 

Pre-Brexit, there was an ease of movement between the European nations, including the UK. From trade to travel, goods and citizens could travel freely within the EU member nations. But after the fallout of Brexit, the ease of trade and tourism was thrown into question. No major changes in travel and trade procedures had been decided... until today. British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the UK would be exiting the “European single market”: the system that allowed people and goods to travel freely between the 28 members of the EU. 

What does this mean for those in the music industry? According to Richard Smirke of Billboard, all European touring acts will now be required to have separate working visas and customs documents for each EU country they visit. In addition, the cost of physical music products (such as vinyl records and CDs) would rise. When it comes to the EU’s Digital Single Market strategy, which targets rights violators on YouTube and other streaming services, the UK can now exempt themselves from this law.  Apple’s UK App store also raised their prices, due to the weakness of the pound sterling after Brexit.

But artists and fans can rest assured that these struggles are only temporary. May stated that she would seek brand new trade agreements with EU countries, adding that “we are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe.” With music being such a large part of UK’s exports, it’s only a matter of time before new trade and travel legislation allows easier movement for musicians to do business around the EU. 

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