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Music industry criticises UK government’s new immigration plans

By | Published on Thursday 20 February 2020

UK Music

The music industry has criticised the UK government’s newly published post-Brexit immigration plans, warning that they’ll negatively impact on European musicians looking to perform here. Which will increase the likelihood of there being new costs and bureaucracy for British artists looking to perform elsewhere in Europe.

For those of you that have been super super busy and therefore missed the last twelve years of reality, here is a quick recap: some billionaires crashed the economy and blamed some foreigners, leading to austerity, Brexit and yesterday’s proposed new UK immigration rules. There, now you’re all caught up.

Numerous sectors have warned that the Conservative government’s plans to restrict and reduce immigration into the UK will have negative consequences, ironically causing most harm to those voters the proposed fuck-the-foreigners legislation is designed to appease. But supporters of the proposals counter that critics in the business world are just worried about losing their supply of cheap foreign labour, and should instead employ and train British workers.

Either way, for the music industry the biggest fear is the impact the new rules will have on the ability for musicians to tour.

Responding to the proposals on Twitter, the acting chief of UK Music, Tom Kiehl, wrote: “New plans confirm that from 2021 EU musicians coming to the UK for concerts and festivals will be treated in the same way as those from the rest of the world. This will drag some agents and promoters into the immigration system for the first time and increases the possibility that [EU] member states [will] introduce new bureaucratic hoops for UK musicians to jump through when seeking to perform across the European Union”.

On the potential impact beyond tours and festivals, Kiehl added: “It’s welcome [that] the government has reduced its salary cap, yet these proposals will still not work for many in the EU who want to work in the UK music industry over a longer period of time, given musicians’ average earnings are £23k and a reliance in the [UK government’s new] points-based [immigration] system on the need for elite academic qualifications”.

Ministers have talked about there being some flexibility for certain categories of workers such as nurses, and the music industry will continue to lobby for musicians to be another such category. Meanwhile, some reckon there will be plenty of u-turns on hardline policies like these once the realities of actual Brexit start to bite in 2021. But either way, there is still plenty of uncertainty ahead.