Last night, while Britain was still sleeping, results on the recent Brexit referendum started to pour in, with major British news outlets such as BBC, ITV and SkyNews announcing that Britain had voted for the political movement championing for a separation from the EU.
Now that the Leave campaign has been crowned as victors, we can begin to look at how this vote will change the spectrum of the electronic music industry. Although the focus of leaving Europe was on immigration, a Europe without Britain will also result in massive changes when it comes to manufacturing and trade. Britain’s exit from the EU will not be immediate, with most experts predicting the leave to occur in 2019 following years of new agreements and changes between the British and European governments.
Regardless of how long it will take for the move to finally and fully take place, it is inevitable that these changes will indeed happen, impacting the lives of many in the music industry. As Pitchfork reported, a spokesperson for the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) emphasized the importance of the EU and Europe “to UK recorded music and to the music sector generally, particularly when you consider the importance of live music and touring.”
The biggest concern is for touring DJs. With Britain leaving Europe, it is entirely possible that British artists will be restricted from openly touring Europe, while European artists may find similar changes when attempting to tour Britain. This could result in expensive and time-consuming complications, such as individual visas to enter the EU, as well as the need of a carnet, a document which delineates each piece of equipment on deck,]preventing the import or export of products without paying Value Added Tax. This will cost £1000—£2000 (approximately $1400—$2900), and will need to be renewed every 12 months.
Pitchfork interviewed Bryony October, who works in live sound and tour production management, asking him about the implications of a Europe without Britain, “We’re talking total chaos, not to mention hours of time wasted, and a serious knock-on effect to the scheduling of back-to-back tour dates” Booking agent Isla Angus weighed in, “If we end up with the situation where UK artists need a Schengen visa to perform in the EU, it will be hugely detrimental to developing artists as Schengen rules require proof of funds, either in the form of travelers checks, or bank history. If promoters also need to be visa sponsors they could be far less willing to take a risk on artists.” And all of this is without taking in consideration the possibility that visas can be easily denied or not approved in time.
Limiting artists’ access to Europe would also be artistically detrimental, says Rob Challice, a director at top booking firm Coda Agency Ltd. “[Leaving] would affect live music, the music business as a whole, and I think on a creative level, it would set back the UK by a number of years. Music from the UK is so exciting, it’s so cross-pollinated—why would you wanna pull up the drawbridge on that?”
Several producers and DJs have given their opinions on the referendum this week, both before and after the votes came in:
Eats Everything: “If, like me, you are in a quandary from all the information & lies/bends of truth you have been fed by either side I have decided to look at it in an almost entirely selfish way & think how negatively affected mine & the people closest to me’s lives have been by being a part of the EU. I have to say not at all really. I can travel & work freely & have many friends of different nationalities & ethnic/religious backgrounds & my wife who is a nurse has MANY MANY NHS colleagues from other parts of Europe. For those reasons I am voting remain.”
Seth Troxler: (while sharing a video) “ruth davidson spot on in the EU debate. lies and scaremongering is all the leave camp have. do you want to side with boris, trump, ukip, murdoch and the far righter who killed jo cox? vote remain.”
Four Tet: “I will be voting to stay in the EU. Please do the same.”
Skream: “You fucking retards…..” (referring to those who voted for Britain to leave the EU)
Midland: “Remain” right before sharing an image that reads, “It’s a question of where you feel you belong. We are the European family.”
Ed Simons of The Chemical Brothers: “Incredulous, sad, scared and angry…cannot take this in.”
Daniel Avery: “What have you done?? What a pathetic little island” “What’s the opposite of patriotic? Fucking ashamed…”
UNER: (translated from Spanish) “Europe crumbles. UK votes “Yes” and now France asks to do the same … Most often in bad times the right thing to do is to be united, not to run away”
Laurent Garnier: “It’s a very strange feeling to wake up this morning with my wife and my son being no longer européen !!!! We are shocked.”
Bicep: The Irish duo contributed with a picture that speaks a million words:
As you can see above, a lot of key players in an industry that is based off of constant travel and the importance of being united under the umbrella of music, find the prospect of a now definite exit from Europe a serious problem. The negative ramifications don’t stop there, however, with record labels facing soon-to-be-impending problems with daily operations once the exit is finalized.
A recent survey conducted by the British Phonographic Industry showed that 68 percent of participating British record labels wished to see Britain remain in the EU. “British music accounts for a quarter of the total market in Europe for recorded music,” stated BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor. “This success helps to create jobs in the UK and fund exceptionally high levels of investment by British labels into new music.” 59 percent of those surveyed believed that leaving the EU could make it more difficult to successfully promote British music and artists in Europe.
An article by the Vinyl Factory further explored the impact of this referendum results with the vinyl industry in particular. When interviewed, BPI Spokesperson Gennaro Castaldo voiced his concerns with regards to vinyl production, which currently mostly takes place in central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Benelux area, “Given that there is already a near bottleneck in the supply chain as demand continues to grow – the BPI estimates a further rise to more than 3m LPs purchased in the UK in 2016 – anything that limits the ability to order and press up more vinyl to keep up with demand, such as increased costs or bureaucracy, for example, is bound to give rise to some concerns that vinyl growth and events such as Record Store Day could be impacted.”
Frank Merrit spoke on behalf of The Carvery, a company that deals with vinyl mastering and as dubplate specialists, “We know that as a result of a Brexit, Britain will have to renegotiate trade agreements with each of the 28 member states who will have the upper hand as Britain needs them far more than they need us. Certainly, our margins will be affected and our currency even more vulnerable leaving us open to losses when giving credit to clients.”
Karen Emanuel, founder, Keyproduction, UK-based music manufacture agency gave her opinion with regards to the production of records with a Britain outside of the EU, “We use a lot of the pressing plants in mainland Europe. They were saying there could be whole different tax and duty implications, it might make it a lot more expensive for us, which would really badly affect our business.
Michael McClatchey, co-founder, Moshi Moshi Records, voiced his worries with regard to fighting copyright infringement, “I think having the EU negotiate with Google is gonna be more effective than having the UK negotiate with Google, especially when you look at how we got on when we negotiated with them about how much tax they should pay, for example. It’s a combination of both the size of the organization and the amount of clout, and also the sense that maybe Europe is more willing to take on these companies than perhaps the UK government is.”
When all is said and done, it remains impossible to accurately predict exactly just how the music industry, and in particular the electronic music industry, will be affected by this referendum vote. The deep and lasting ramifications of an EU without Britain are yet to be fully understood, and there is no doubt that a lot of the practical results of this change hinge on the exact agreement yet to be negotiated between the British and European Union governments.
As an industry we hope that the results of these negotiations don’t hinder the creativity and reach of the music we love.