Kano, Radiohead and Wolf Alice urge government to take action over post-Brexit touring

© Anthony Yates

More than 200 artists have joined the #LetTheMusicMove campaign.

The likes of Radiohead, Wolf Alice, Kano, IDLES, Ghostpoet, New Order, Squid and The Chemical Brothers are calling on the government to make touring in the EU easier post-Brexit. 

They are among over 200 musicians backing a new artist-led campaign called #LetTheMusicMove. The campaign is urging the government to do more to support musicians with some of the many Brexit-related touring barriers: things like expensive visas and work permits, as well as other restrictions, delays and expenditure. They warn that current restrictions and red tape will “threaten the future success of British music” when full-scale touring resumes.

#LetTheMusicMove is calling for the government to deliver a “transitional support package” to help cover new or additional touring costs, which they say will “result in fewer performance opportunities for UK artists and crew.” Other asks include measures to mitigate restrictions applied to British vehicles in the EU, long term solutions for “UK artists and crew to continue working in all EU-27 countries, without costly permits and bureaucracy” and streamlined entry routes into the UK for international acts. The campaign is also calling for a music export office.

The#LetTheMusicMove campaign, which launches five years to the day of the EU referendum (23 June), notes that, the UK is currently the second biggest exporter of music in the world, while Europe is the country’s most important overseas market. Campaign organiser Featured Artists Coalition states that UK artists played almost four times as many shows in the EU than they did in North America in 2019.

Blur’s Dave Rowntree, another supporter of the campaign, said: “Blur played our first gig outside the UK in Rotterdam in February 1991. We just jumped on a ferry with no restrictions for us or our gear. That August we were back in the Netherlands, followed by dates in Germany, France and then on into a full European tour.”

“If we were starting out today trying to do the same, there would be a vast range of bureaucracy and costs, with different regimes in every country. We simply wouldn’t be able to afford it. The UK government has to take this issue seriously and support touring artists. The future of British music is at stake.”

Earlier this year, more than 100 UK musicians and industry workers including Radiohead, Jayda G, Brian Eno and Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis signed an open letter with similar demands. Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood also express his concerns surrounding the post-Brexit deal for musicians, touring artists and crew in a feature published by the Guardian. That same month, the UK government rejected a petition calling for them to negotiate further with the EU on the matter of visa-free touring, despite it gaining over 280,000 signatures.

Find out more about the campaign here.