A woman singing into a microphone on a festival stage, surrounded by her band

Support towards touring costs and widening of touring advice services

  • Touring is a vital part of musicians’ development but the costs can be prohibitive, especially in Europe due to the excessive red tape of the Brexit deal
  • The £250,000 fund will support musicians to grow their impact, fanbases and skills through live performance
  • Musicians and those involved in the tour booking process can also now access 30-minutes of free telephone advice from the specialist service, Viva La Visa

Help Musicians, the charity that has been supporting musicians for over 100 years, is providing £250,000 in financial support towards musicians’ domestic and international touring and live performance plans. It is also funding broader access to international touring advice through free 30-minute consultations with Viva La Visa — a service pioneered by the Incorporated Society of Musicians and The Musicians’ Union, whose members can still access it. Musicians are now able to apply for financial support towards their touring plans from Help Musicians at any time throughout the year. 

With Covid’s devastating impact on musicians’ ability to perform and earn in the last two years, 2022 is now a critical year to return to live performance, build fanbases, develop performance skills and replenish shattered finances. Domestic and international touring is a vital part of this, but it is expensive, complicated and risky. Touring on the continent is particularly so, due to the new costs and excessive red tape of the Brexit deal. Through the charity’s touring and live performance support, musicians can receive up to £5,000 towards their plans to drive their careers forward and propel their forthcoming releases. 

The financial support can cover the likes of touring expenses, session musician and crew fees, PR and marketing, merchandise, a proportion of international administration fees (e.g. visas, carnets, etc) and more. See the full list on the Help Musicians website.

In tandem, and in response to post-Brexit touring challenges that Lord Frost has recently acknowledged, Help Musicians has also funding broader access to Viva La Visa’s specialist international touring advice service. Through this support, the charity aims to help musicians re-build their careers post-restrictions and provide practical advice to musicians wishing to tour. The service will help them better understand the complex requirements from working/​traveling abroad, and mitigate against the financial risks now associated with touring, especially in Europe. Calls can cover the likes of visas, work permits, carnets, customs regulations, rules relating to movement and more. 

Help Musicians is committed to supporting the touring advice service for the next 18 months, with the hope that in the meantime the government will negotiate better touring arrangements with all of the EU, as Lord Frost has now said they should do.

The Brexit deal has made touring much more complicated and brought new risks to artists planning to tour Europe; a circuit that has been long-established for musicians at all career stages and brings valuable income, experience and exposure. The widening of the Viva La Visa service has been welcomed by The Musicians’ Union and The ISM, whose foresight to instigate this as a service to their members has provided much needed leadership in this area. The MMF have also voiced support as managers struggle to find confidence in navigating the new system on behalf of their artists.

James Ainscough, Chief Executive at Help Musicians said: It is vital that musicians start touring again, at home and abroad, to get back to live performance, grow their fanbase and earn much-needed income. Tours are costly and risky, so our £250k will support musicians who are ready to take the plunge and drive their careers forward. In addition, musicians now need extra support to arrange international tours because post-Brexit there is much complexity which can lead to career-ending consequences if the admin is not done right. Widening access to Viva La Visa’s service empowers musicians to make well-informed choices which should reduce risk, improve decision-making and increase confidence to tour internationally. I am very grateful to The ISM and The MU for allowing us to open up this service beyond their memberships – it demonstrates their commitment to see all musicians thrive. My plea to the government is to use the 18 months of cover that this service provides to negotiate and put in place all that is needed to ensure friction-free touring for musicians in the EU. The UK’s musicians have always been brilliant global ambassadors for our country and they deserve the easiest possible access to the global stage.”

Deborah Annetts, Chief Executive at ISM said: With the recent admission by Lord Frost that Brexit is making life difficult for musicians, it remains incumbent upon musicians to factor in the time and cost of procuring the paperwork needed to tour or work in the EU. Whilst it is welcome that through Help Musicians, every musician will now be able to access Viva La Visa’s specialist visa and work permits advice, it should not fall to a charity to make up for the government’s failure to sort out this mess. The ISM will continue to lobby government to remove red tape from important European markets and press for more CITES designated ports such as Eurostar. We will also continue to support ISM members with a range of Brexit services including a Visa and Work Permits Guide, discounted carnets and specially discounted rates on business travel insurance to mitigate against the costs involved in working internationally.”

Naomi Pohl, General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union said: The MU is very grateful to Help Musicians for taking this advice service on board. We have a long-standing relationship with Viva La Visa and we are grateful to them for maintaining their discount for MU members. Musicians are really struggling with the practicalities of touring in the EU post-Brexit; the costs and additional paperwork are proving to be a real challenge. The music industry has been working hard to get the right information in place for musicians. We hope this service, alongside our comprehensive online guidance, will help musicians navigate this tricky path.”

Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive, MMF: COVID-19’s shutdown of live music has been devastating and we’re still awaiting the return of European touring. Before managers can make educated decisions about planning and budgeting EU shows for artists, they all require clear, concise and up-to-the-minute information on the latest rules and regulations. In the absence of Government support, the MMF is hugely grateful to Help Musicians for stepping up to the plate and expanding this service to help our globally-acclaimed music business get back on its feet.”

To book an appointment with Viva La Visa:

Email: HelpMusicians@​vivalavisa.​co.​uk

Call: 01473 892660