Numerous UK music industry figures have spoken to NME this week regarding the impact that Brexit has had on touring; in particular, the issues that up-and-coming groups are facing with playing in Spain.
Squid’s tour manager Ina Tatarko explained to the publication how the frighteningly high costs of attaining visas for the group to play in Spain has meant that they have had to pull out of impending Spanish shows later this month. She stated: “With the current visa requirements for Spain, which are basically saying that you have to pay for a work visa for £409 per person, we weren’t able to play these smaller shows because it wouldn’t have been financially feasible.”
Spanish music festival Primavera Sound were promoting Black Country New Road and Squid’s upcoming shows, and on September 23rd, stated: “In a very delicate climate due to the COVID crisis, with promoters who have been unable to programme for the last two years and bands unable to tour internationally for the same amount of time, these costs could be the final blow for an industry on which technical teams, venues and festivals depend, as well as of course the artists from one of the countries with a huge presence on our stages.”
The reality of Brexit-especially for the UK music industry- is a very unfortunate one, particularly in regard to touring groups. As the advent of Brexit crept up in 2020, many UK groups and artists began voicing their concerns about the impact Brexit would have on touring. One issue that rose above the rest was the worrying thought of additional expenses, paperwork and the time that would go into acquiring Visas, and the challenge of shipping equipment and merchandise over to mainland Europe. Whilst around 19 EU countries have reached an agreement with the UK to supply free 90 day work visas, it seems that this issue is sadly rearing its head as the easing of COVID restrictions ushers live music back into daily life.
Over 100,000 people have signed a Change.org petition entitled “Let Touring Musicians Travel: Support Musicians Working in the EU Post-Brexit”, which calls upon the UK government and Parliament to back the idea of a Musicians’ Passport, which would ideally last a minimum of two years, be inexpensive to acquire, cover all states that are members of the EU, ensures that there is no need for additional permits, and covers road crew, technicians and other staff necessary for touring musicians. Mark Davyd, The CEO of the UK Music Venue Trust, told NME last year that Brexit’s impact on touring would only be manageable for artists who were already worldwide successes, stating; “This is basically a tax on new and emerging musicians. It’s not a tax that will have any impact on your James Blunts and Roger Daltreys. Someone will sit in an office and fill in all of their paperwork.”