Some of the UK's most renowned artists, writers and performers have issued a statement stating the music industry will be locked out of Europe if Britain leaves the EU on unfavorable terms.
In an angry open letter to Theresa May, Britain's Prime Minister, Bob Geldof said: “a botched Brexit” will wreak havoc and seriously damage a creative sector worth an estimated £4.4bn a year.
Its signatories include Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker, Brian Eno, John Eliot Gardiner, Bobby Gillespie, Howard Goodall, Johnny Marr, Nick Mason, Alan McGee, Rita Ora, William Orbit, Simon Rattle, Ed Sheeran, Paul Simon, Neil Tennant, Roger Taylor and Sting.
Their letter states: “We dominate the market and our bands, singers, musicians, writers, producers and engineers work all over Europe and the world and in turn, Europe and the world come to us. Why? Because we are brilliant at it … [Our music] reaches out, all-inclusive, and embraces anyone and everyone. And that truly is what Britain is.”
“We are about to make a very serious mistake regarding our giant industry and the vast pool of yet undiscovered genius that lives on this little island,” the letter warns. It predicts that the “vast voice” and reach of British music will be silenced in a “self-built cultural jail”. – Bob Geldof
The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) declared that the popularity of British music hit a record high in 2017, with sales jumping by 12% to generate £408m from music fans outside the UK. British artists, including Sheeran, currently the world’s biggest-selling pop star, and The Beatles account for one in every eight albums sold globally.
The BPI warned that this success will be damaged by costs and restriction of touring (including potentially work visa costs), promotion and rights that will follow Brexit.
Alex Sushon, producer and DJ known as Bok Bok, told the Observer Newspaper: “I am definitely living in fear of having to secure weekly visas to European destinations in order to keep working. It is a daunting prospect.” Sushon, who runs record label Night Slugs said that curbs to freedom of movement within Europe would be “pretty devastating” “Probably 50% of my income depends on it.”
Here is the open letter;
To Theresa May:
Imagine Britain without its music. If it’s hard for us, then it’s impossible for the rest of the world. In this one area, if nowhere else, Britain does still rule the waves. The airwaves. The cyberwaves. The soundwaves. It is of us. It is our culture.
We dominate the market and our bands, singers, musicians, writers, producers and engineers work all over Europe and the world. In turn, Europe and the world come to us. Why? Because we are brilliant at it. No one quite knows why this should be but everyone understands it to be so. The sound and the words seem universal. It reaches out, all inclusive, and embraces anyone and everyone. And that truly is what Britain IS! That is proper Global Britain.
But Brexit threatens, as it does so much else, this vast voice. This huge global cultural influencer. We are about to make a very serious mistake regarding our giant industry and the vast pool of yet undiscovered genius that lives on this little island.
Why are we closing down these possibilities for ourselves and for those as yet unknown to us? Brexit will impact every aspect of the music industry. From touring, sales, copyright legislation, to royalty collation. Indeed it already has. As a result of the referendum vote, the fall in the pound has meant hugely increased equipment costs, studio hire, and touring costs all now materially higher than before – and not forgetting that squeezed household incomes means less money to go to clubs and buy tracks, T-shirts, gigs and generate the vast income necessary to keep the up and comers on the road and musically viable.
A massive 60% of all royalty revenue paid to the UK comes from within the EU. And at home, ANY increase in import duty will mean that ANYTHING that comes to us from outside will cost significantly more. We have decided to put ourselves inside a self-built cultural jail! The very opposite of wall-destroying, prejudice-denying, ideas-generating that is the very essence of contemporary music. And yet it is the much-mocked freedom of movement that so effortlessly allows our troubadours, our cultural warriors, to wander Europe and speak of us to a world that cannot get enough of [them], and which generates countless billions for our threatened institutions.
This is all a serious madness. We must take back our future.We must reform and restructure the EU. When Europe is in a mess, the Brits get stuck in. They don’t withdraw, they double down. They get in close and messy. Make Europe the continent that we and the people of Europe want. Not the one dreamt up in another time by the ideologues, or by the undemocratic fiat of mediocre politicians or the dull exhortations of a pallid bureaucracy. A new one. A different one. An exciting one. A rock’n’roll one.
Let’s rock Europe and let’s save our music, our musicians, our music jobs and our songs. Let’s save our voice.
Yours, Bob Geldof and friends.