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Beginner’s Guide to Brexit at The Great Escape

Musicians’ Union (MU) Assistant General Secretary Naomi Pohl represented MU members at the Beginner’s Guide to Brexit panel at The Great Escape. Here are some of the highlights…

Westminster on a sunny day viewed through railings

Musicians’ Union (MU) Assistant General Secretary Naomi Pohl represented MU members at the Beginner’s Guide to Brexit panel at The Great Escape, hosted by trade association the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Here are some of the highlights…

There’s a lot we don’t know. Ian Moss (BPI Director of Public Affairs) looked at the mechanics of Brexit. Politicians have made many claims. But the nature of the relationship post Brexit is subject to negotiation. Nothing is certain. This means that the music industry is doing its best to prepare for the potential impact of exiting the European Union without a clear idea of how musicians and music businesses will be affected.  But there are a few things we can be confident on.

Leaving the EU will affect musicians. Issues discussed include freedom of movement, copyright and the likely impact of Brexit on the export of CDs and vinyl to European Union (EU) member states.  In every area, it was considered that the industry would be worse off and business was likely to be more difficult – whether due to an increase in admin or costs. Any changes will inevitably hit individual musicians and small businesses the hardest.

Freedom of movement is the biggest issue for MU members. Many of the MU’s 30,000 plus members work in Europe. That might be on a freelance basis with orchestras, touring as an individual or group, or working for theatre producers or orchestras on touring productions.  All will be affected, and individuals without representation or financial backing are likely to struggle with extra costs and admin the most.

This is already having an impact. The European Union Baroque Orchestra has already left the UK for Antwerp, in part due to concerns over restricted freedom of movement for working musicians.

Copyright is okay for now. The MU has received assurances from the Intellectual Property Office that no overhaul of copyright is planned.  Naomi is hopeful, but emphasised that the UK’s copyright regime needs to mirror EU copyright law so that there are no actual or perceived barriers to the UK music industry doing business in the EU.

The way we do business will change. Vangel Vlaski (Proper Music) said the export of CDs and vinyl could be impacted and the business may choose to ship to one EU member state where product could then be distributed to other member states rather than shipping direct to multiple territories as they do now.  He said Proper Music is unlikely to leave the UK, but there would be fewer employees covering more work.

The MU is working on it – and we need you to get involved. Keep an eye out on the next issue of The Musician in June to see how you can take action on the issue of freedom of movement.  If you’d like to share your Brexit views, experiences, thoughts, concerns or fears with us, please email MU Head of Government Relations & Public Affairs Isabelle Gutierrez at isabelle.gutierrez@themu.org.

Published: 30/05/2017

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