NEWS: How Will Brexit Affect the UK Music Scene?

We look at the impact Brexit will have on the UK music scene. Focusing on work, travel and music distribution.

NEWS: How Will Brexit Affect the UK Music Scene?

If you have put on the TV for longer than three seconds this week, you will know that Theresa May has signed, sealed and delivered the letter for the UK to leave the EU (Triggered Article 50). What does this actually mean for the UK music scene and for aspiring artists? The Big Music Project finds out….

  1. Work

Right now, we are able to work anywhere in the EU without a work visa. This means UK DJ’s can travel to Ibiza for a gig and get paid for it without any problems, musicians can tour Europe without having to get a visa (unlike other artists from outside the EU). This saves them a lot of money and time. It also allows up and coming artists to easily promote themselves across Europe without being burdened down by legalities.

Ben Kaye from COS Magazine explained; “For a working musician, the ability to enter and exit any EU country on just one working visa makes touring relatively easy. But now that the UK is out, it’s possible that British acts will need to acquire separate working visas for each country”

Honestly – now we are leaving the EU, we are still unsure about how the visa system will work. It may mean that musicians will have to apply for work visas before they travel around Europe as Ben states. If this is the case, the process can sometimes take days and cost money.

Luckily, the government has addressed this concern and have reassured the music scene that this is something that will be part of their negotiations. Hopefully, we will be able to secure agreements with main EU members so that our rights to work without a visa in their countries remain.

  1. Travel

On the topic of work, travel may become a little more expensive. Not to go into too much detail but flights around Europe are currently relatively cheap because we are part of the EU. Once we leave, prices for flights around the EU may increase due to air transport regulations and border control fees. This can obviously impact the travel budgets of bands and DJs.

BUT…like anything, the hike of prices in a market creates competition, so airlines will continue to compete to have cheaper fares than their competitors, which means that the prices – in time – may come back down to what we see today.

  1. Music Distribution

Trading with other EU members is free right now because we are all part of one trading block. Being able to sell physical albums in France, Spain, etc is free for all musicians.  As we leave the EU, the trading agreements with other member states may change. One of the biggest challenges for the UK government is ensuring that trading with the EU continues to be stable. Depending on how negotiations work out, this could impact the costs of album distribution across the EU.

Though… in the 21st century, this may not really impact the sale of albums and singles! Physical album sales have dropped massively over the past 10 years and most people buy digital copies anyway. With the increase of streaming sites such as Spotify and iTunes, it may be wise for musicians to take advantage of these outlets to sell their music. Not only around Europe and the world, but even here in the UK.


Nothing is set in stone as of yet and though we have signed to leave the EU, we will have to go through years of negotiation before it becomes effective. This means that we will not actually see much of a difference for at least the next two years.

As Jo Dipple, the CEO of UK Music said “Getting the post EU-framework right for music means more jobs, more young people in apprenticeships, bigger export strength, more diplomatic power and more tax revenue flowing in from every city, nation and region. Getting it wrong probably means a return to punk rock.”

What’s for sure is that we are living in uncertain times and only time will tell what opportunities could come out of this change. Don’t worry though, we will keep you updated on how Brexit actually impacts you!