Between Brexit and Covid-19, musicians have the blues in the UK

At the Glastonbury Festival in June 2016, the tribute paid to Prince and David Bowie, who died earlier in the year.

For the anniversary of David Bowie’s death (January 10, 2016), many Britons nostalgically shared a concert by the artist on social media during the Glastonbury Festival in June 2000. Bowie performed there Wild Is The Wind at nightfall, in front of tens of thousands of spectators gathered in this countryside corner of Somerset (south-west of England). A highlight of the country’s first pop music festival.

Will there be a 2021 edition of Glastonbury this summer? Nothing is less certain, and British musicians are in the dark. The year 2020 has obviously been catastrophic for this sector, yet one of the most dynamic in the world, and this new year is not looking auspicious either, because of Brexit and the resurgence of the Covid epidemic.

Ellie Giles is a member of the board of directors of Music Managers Forum, one of the main unions of music managers. Based in London, the young woman was noticed in early January with a series of Tweet explaining how Brexit would complicate European tours of British artists. In the absence of a specific agreement concluded at the end of 2020 between the Johnson government and Brussels to allow their free movement in the European Union (EU), “They’re going to need work permits for each member state. I understand that this will not be necessary for France, but we have no information concerning the other countries ”, deplores the young manager, reached on the phone.

Ellie Giles, manager: “Our material trucks will not have more than three stops in the European Union! From then on, tours are impossible, unless you go through a European carrier ”

The problem may seem remote, with the pandemic preventing artists from moving at the moment, but it is not. Ellie Giles is trying to reschedule a tour of the London electronic music group Warmduscher, initially scheduled for 2020, between France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic, but she is unable to accurately assess the costs. .

“We may need a ‘notebook’ [un passeport pour les marchandises, afin d’éviter de payer des taxes aux frontières], which could cost up to 350 pounds per year [393 euros]. The cabotage rules in the EU will also apply: our material trucks will not be entitled to more than three stops in the EU! Therefore, tours are impossible, unless you go through a European carrier. And there is the merchandising issue: are European fans going to keep buying 40 pounds or 50 pounds items from an English band if they have to pay 5 pounds to 10 pounds in import tax? ? “, list the young woman, who admits to having lost 70% of her income in 2020.

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