In Light Of Brexit, Touring The UK Has A Whole New Rulebook

Visas, restrictions, and endless paperwork: the landscape of live music in the UK is a nightmare for rising artists.


For most music industry veterans, the steps to organize a tour are understandable, expected, and easy to prepare for. Those that have previously embarked on these excursions know the drill and can anticipate the necessary costs. As a result of Brexit, however, artists hoping to tour the UK will have to follow a whole new set of rules.


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“We are currently in grave danger of losing a generation of talent due to the gaping hole’s in the government’s trade deal,” said Elton John in a June 2021 statement regarding the lack of visa-free touring in the EU. In his own words, this issue is not about artists of his caliber, who are “lucky enough to have the support staff, finance and infrastructure to cut through the red tape” of such restrictions. Rather, the burden falls on up-and-coming artists who rely on touring for the sake of their careers.

As a result of the changes wrought by Brexit, musicians and touring personnel now lack visa-free travel and work permits, thus requiring them to apply for expensive visas in order to transport their crew, equipment, and merchandise. As for the vehicles transporting these necessities, only three stops in mainland Europe are permitted. 

While established artists, likely performing in arenas or stadiums, may have the funds needed to tackle such expenses, the same cannot be said for most rising names in the industry. Costs aside, the labor necessary to make sense of the convoluted paperwork, which is now required before any tour can go on, is extremely difficult for these artists to obtain.

Once an imperative step for rising UK musicians to share their music and establish themselves in the music industry, touring has become nothing more than a headache for most artists. Various aid sources and charities, such as Help Musicians, a touring fund for UK-based artists, have launched in an effort to combat these difficulties. For the time being, an extension of support from music lovers across the globe may be the only solution.

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