Brexit. sounds as funny as it reads.
The rotten cherry on top of that disgusting 2020 cake that some inexperienced cook has baked inadvertently switching curing salts with sugar. It might as well be deadly; and could it be worse?
The UK music sector, which is already on its knees because of Covid government regulations, is going to slowly and painfully fade away as the gates are closed.
Summer 2021 will come eventually, and the relentless touring musicians that didn’t just give up and retrain to mop Tesco floors will find themselves in a post-apocalyptic dilemma: “to tour Europe or not to spend?”. And if it doesn’t make sense just yet let me introduce you to a carnet.
A “carnet” is a french word that translates to “notebook”. Ok, not quite as scary as you expected. But this is no fancy-doodle notebook, it is a list of the goods that you are taking in and out of the country. Conditions apply and you should definitely check on the gov.uk for more information; what we need to know is that it is not free of charge and it regulates audio and video equipment.
Your fancy rosewood guitar? Carnet. Stock of vinyl for the merch table? Carnet. Lights and stands? Carnet. Retrain to mop Tesco floors? Priceless.
Jokes aside, this will cripple any touring musician with more paperwork, risks, and yet another fee to pay, in order to do their job that in 2019 brought £1.3bn to the UK economy; 845k overseas music fans to the country; sustaining 45,633 jobs thanks to music tourism.
The reason why this is the worst time for such regulations to take place, is that the whole UK live sector is already looking at losing dozens of venues due to the pandemic, and one way to help would have been to ease EU artists across the border as soon as it will be safe to tour again; but of course the carnet applies both ways, so similar expenses would affect anyone coming into the country.
Let’s recap then: UK artists will witness a shrunk live sector between the borders and fees for international travel. The paradigm of “write-record-tour” music will no longer be viable because the live sector is the most profitable of the three, said Dave Rowntree of the band Blur.
But what can be done?
It comes as no surprise that the Musicians’ Union is fighting for the approval of a “musician passport” that would simplify things. The passport would be “free or affordable” and have a duration of at least two years, allowing musicians to travel freely in and out of the country.
Now more than ever musicians need to be heard and borders are simply not the way.
We as musicians should stay more than ever unite to fight for this cause; music cannot belong to just one country, and cannot be used as another factor to separate people.
Check out the Musician’s Union guide to Brexit: https://musiciansunion.org.uk/brexit
Sign the petition for the musician’s passport: http://chng.it/cSK8pnnDVr