EU Referendum
Patrick Christie
External Affairs Officer
20th June 2016
EU Referendum

At the moment it can feel as though every time you browse the web you are confronted with yet more articles about the EU referendum (this blog being no exception). It can be tempting to stick your head in the sand but we’ve avoided doing so. That’s because if the UK votes on 23 June to leave the EU we need to understand the impact, for better or worse, that this will have the music industry and the musicians we help. 

Polling within the industry appears to show that the industry as a whole supports remaining with the European Union. A BPI poll of their members found that 68% were in favour of remaining and a survey by the Creative Industries Federation found that 96% of those taking part backed remain. Both the Musicians Union and Featured Artists Coalition have also stated their support for remaining following similar internal polling.  

Why might a musician be more in favour of remaining in the European Union?

Freedom of Movement       

The British music industry benefits from cultural exchange and close collaboration with EU partners. The EU makes touring the 28 member states accessible and affordable. Many musicians will know of the complex, time consuming and costly process of applying for a US Visa and it is unclear at present whether a Visa waiver system will be successfully implement should the UK chose to leave the EU. The EU is also in the process of adopting regulation to facilitate the transport of musical instruments on planes as hand luggage.

The UK’s Conservatoires rely on the best talent from EU member states as do many of our orchestras such as City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, who recently appointed Lithuanian born Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla as their Chief Conductor.

Access to the Single Market / Copyright Framework

As part of the EU, musicians enjoy a Copyright Framework which protects their intellectual property rights across the union. The EU presents the main market for the British music industry with one in every six albums sold in Europe being made by a British artist. A Digital Single Market Strategy is currently under development which will create the world’s largest music market. Leaving the EU would mean the loss of unmitigated access to this market.

Working Regulations

The EU provides Health and Safety legislation and regulation on working practices which improve the working conditions of all of those within the industry from musicians through to roadies and sound engineers. The Noise at Work Regulations 2005 which have helped to protect the hearing of musicians, for example, are based on EU Directives.

What is the industry saying?

Jo Dipple, Chief Executive of UK Music: “We export over 60% of the music made in the UK – our biggest markets are the European Union and America. Access to customers through the EU single market has undoubtedly helped the UK music industry become a world leader,”

Richard Mantle, general director of Opera North: “Leaving the EU could leave the UK culturally isolated, an issue for all cultural organisations, but especially for those working in opera - a fundamentally European art-form. It would diminish our burgeoning cultural voice, which should be at the heart of European culture."

Geoff Taylor Chief Executive of BPI: “British music is riding high and now accounts for a quarter of the total market in Europe for recorded music. This success helps to create jobs in the UK and fund exceptionally high levels of investment by British labels into new music. A strong majority of the UK labels we polled believe that remaining in the EU is critical to their business and that leaving would risk harming their future prospects”.