Michael Dugher, chief executive of industry umbrella organisation UK Music, has warned that government plans to limit immigration after Britain leaves the EU would jeopardise the UK’s “world-leading” music business.
Responding to the publication of a white paper setting out proposed post-Brexit rules for migrants – including a consultation on a minimum £30,000 salary requirement for skilled workers seeking five-year visas – Dugher says the salary threshold would exclude many musicians, songwriters and producers, who earn an average of £20,504 annually.
“The UK music industry contributes £4.5 billion to the economy, with live music alone contributing around £1bn,” he comments. “As we’ve made repeatedly clear, a crude salaries and skills approach to freedom to work post-Brexit just doesn’t work for so many artists and musicians. We risk limiting the ability for European musicians to play in our world-leading festivals, venues and studios.
“If this approach is reciprocated by the EU and there is no visa waiver in place, we risk making it very hard, if not impossible, for so many UK artists to tour in EU. This is how they build an audience and, frankly, make any kind of living from music.”
The organisation has previously called for the introduction of a ‘touring passport’ or visa waiver for musicians and crews.
“It is frustrating in the extreme that there are still some people in government who have their fingers in their ears,” Dugher continues.
“This is utterly clueless. It’s vital that we don’t pull the rug from under Britain’s world-leading music industry.”
Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) – which is leading the Save Music campaign for post-Brexit freedom of movement – has also voiced opposition to the government plans.
‘The end of freedom of movement will have a devastating impact on British musicians,” she says. “The introduction of harsher immigration rules after Brexit will cause declining diversity and creativity in the British music industry. It could also potentially lead to the introduction of reciprocal immigration rules by EU countries.
“While it is good news that government does not intend to immediately introduce a £30,000 minimum income threshold for new immigrants, we do urge for any future plans to be abandoned. Such a threshold is not compatible with the music profession, where earnings can be less. We look forward to working with the government during the consultation period.”