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Rob Hallett on how Brexit is affecting the live industry: “It’s very scary times”

By | Published on Wednesday 2 November 2016

Live music audience

Prior to the daft EU Referendum vote back in the summer, there were warnings that leaving the European Union could have dire consequences for British musicians trying to tour on the continent. But there were dire warnings about everything, weren’t there? Four months later, we haven’t even left the EU and things are already looking rough for those putting on gigs, according to industry veteran Rob Hallett.

“With the pound against the dollar the lowest it’s been since 1985, to bring American acts over is really tough. $50,000 now costs me 20% more than it cost me before [the vote on] 23 Jun”, he tells Billboard in a new interview. “For English acts touring America and Europe, one could argue there are some advantages because the dollars and euros they are bringing back are worth more. But if they are getting tour support and are based on a pound economy, I doubt whether that will make up for the extra costs of hotels or services that they need to pay with sterling”.

“It’s very scary times”, he continues. “Is Brexit is a tsunami that’s flowing through our economy that will soon end and we’ll see regrowth? Will the weakened dollar expand into greater long-term export business and grow the economy that way? Who knows? It’s interesting times for us all”.

As for the other big hot potato in live music at the moment, Hallett doesn’t believe that secondary ticketing is quite the problem it’s made out to be. He’s putting another worry higher up the worry list. “Getting record companies, promoters and agents to work together to grow new talent for the future [is the most pressing issue]”, he says.

“A lot of people say secondary ticketing, but we have got to get acts to sell the fucking [primary] tickets before secondary tickets become valuable. How many tickets remained unsold this summer? How much was lost in festivals this summer due to lack of content and the same old tired acts going around doing the same old festivals?”

He adds: “Millions of pounds are dropped in this country alone. On a pan-European basis it’s tens of millions. And everyone is going: ‘Secondary ticketing [is the biggest issue] because someone made a fiver out of me’. It is important, yes. It’s wrong, yes. But I think technology will eventually stifle it anyway with new forms of mobile ticketing. The main thing as an industry is that we’ve got to stop throwing so much money down the toilet”.

Read Hallett’s full interview here. And if you haven’t found all that depressing enough, Eamonn Forde has just written an article for The Guardian about the Brexit-style shit sauce the music industry is wading into.