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UK music industry sets out priorities as ‘Boris’ Johnson starts “getting Brexit done”

By | Published on Wednesday 8 January 2020

UK Music

Assuming that a burning world and escalating conflict in the Middle East don’t prove to be too much of a distraction, UK Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson will this month set about fulfilling his election pledge to “get Brexit done”.

That pledge basically means getting Parliamentary approval for his edit of the big Brexit deal that was negotiated by his predecessor. You know, the big Brexit deal that mainly allows the UK to start negotiating the actual Brexit deal.

Whereas the deal that allows us to start negotiating the deal took more than three years to agree, the much more complex actual Brexit deal is going to be done and dusted within a year. Because the PM has said it will be so. And surely not even ‘Boris’ Johnson would have the gall to miss yet another entirely meaningless unrealistic deadline? I mean, it would take a full-on war in the Middle East to excuse missing yet another meaningless unrealistic deadline. Which is handy.

Either way, as “getting Brexit done” actually means “starting the slow, agonising and complex process of negotiating the UK’s future relationship with the EU”, lobbyists for every industry – however tired they may be of all the Brexit bullshit – now need to get into full-on lobbying mode. Each lobbyist wants to ensure that any UK/EU deal mitigates all the ways in which Brexit will fuck things up for the industry they represent.

That, of course, includes the music industry’s lobbyists. Which is why the Deputy CEO of cross-sector trade group UK Music has made sure there is a letter from the music community in Johnson’s in-tray as he returns to work after the Christmas break. The industry’s request is pretty simple really. Maybe the PM and his team could try to only slightly fuck up the music industry by leaving the EU, instead of monumentally fucking it up? Yeah, maybe.

The impact of Brexit on touring is, of course, the most pressing issue for the music community. And that’s the focus of the letter from UK Music’s Tom Kiehl, which notes that – for the country’s music industry to maintain its current levels of success – “artists and creators need to be able to tour internationally. This is, however, in jeopardy if a free trade agreement at the end of the Brexit transitional phase does not take into account the music industry’s needs”.

Brexit, he explains, threatens the ability of UK artists to tour Europe “without extra costs and bureaucracy”, while “the loss of freedom of movement on goods will also see the introduction of an expensive and time-consuming carnet system for musical equipment”.

Therefore, Kiehl stresses, “as part of discussions on a future free trade agreement with the EU, the government must back plans for a single EU-wide live music ‘touring passport’ to avoid burdensome new restrictions”.

For the music industry, the PM’s Brexit schedule poses another interesting question. What about the bloody European Copyright Directive that the UK music industry lobbied for so very hard over the last few years? Will those reforms – previously dubbed as “terrible for the internet” and “classic EU law to help the rich and powerful” by a certain ‘Boris’ Johnson – ever be implemented over here?

“Last year European Union institutions agreed the Copyright Directive”, Kiehl also writes in his letter. “The directive will improve the way creators and those that invest in them are financially rewarded for the use of music online”.

Despite Johnson’s personal digs at the directive, the UK government has – in the main – supported the European copyright reforms. Kiehl welcomes that support, but seeks reassurance that, in among all the Brexit bullshit (not to mention dealing with a burning planet and World War Three), UK ministers find time to implement those reforms here too.

“We ask the government to guarantee that the core principles of the directive are reflected in UK copyright law by the end of 2020”, he writes. “The government must set out a road map outlining how it intends to take the directive and its key proposals forward. Failure to deliver these vital changes would mean the UK is out of step with its largest music market”.

We will have to wait and see what kind of bullshit Johnson sends back in response. Assuming he and his lackeys get that far down his in-tray before the end times unfold.