UK Music

MPs Join Forces To Demand "Urgent Action" From PM Boris Johnson Over EU Touring Crisis Facing Musicians And Crew

Details of the two new initiatives come after Sir Elton John warned in June that the UK music industry risked losing a 'generation of talent' and branded the situation a "looming catastrophe" for artists

London, 3rd November 2021 A letter has been sent to PM Boris Johnson on behalf of cross-party MPs demanding “urgent action” over the crisis facing musicians and crew touring the EU.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music has also revealed plans to hold a cross-party inquiry into the costly barriers and delays facing musicians, particularly emerging artists.

Details of the two new initiatives come after Sir Elton John warned in June that the UK music industry risked losing a “generation of talent” and branded the situation a “looming catastrophe” for artists.

In the letter (attached) to Boris Johnson, senior Conservative MP David Warburton and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Music highlighted how the PM had pledged in March to “fix” the problems surrounding touring the EU.

On behalf of the cross-party APPG, David Warburton called for a meeting with the PM to look at ways of overcoming barriers that mean artists and crew are required to apply for costly and complicated visas to tour some EU nations and face further transport headaches due to red tape. (See under notes to editors for examples.)

In the letter, David Warburton outlines three key areas where the MPs want to see urgent action:

  • The Government to ramp up negotiations with those EU nations that bar visa-free touring
  • More steps to help UK artists touring overseas – such as the creation of a new Music Export Office
  • Minister to explore the idea of forging a new European agreement exempting cultural tours from immigration and transport red tape rules

Commenting on the letter, Mr Warburton MP said: 

“Musicians and crew are facing an enormous and grave problem when it comes to touring the EU that is not going to go away.

“Our cross-party group has written to the Prime Minister to ask him to take urgent action to clear these visa and travel barriers that threaten the success of the UK music industry, particularly emerging artists.

“We need the Government to ramp up negotiations with nations like Spain where costly visas are still in place and to look for swift solutions to both the visa and transport issues facing musicians and crew.”

Former Cabinet Minister and APPG member, Labour MP Harriet Harman said:

“This is a very important initiative. There is deep recognition from all parties in the House of Commons of the importance of music to the cultural and economic life of the UK, and of the jeopardy caused by restrictions on UK musicians touring in the EU.

“Livelihoods and careers are at risk and musicians need action from Government now. This inquiry is an opportunity to present Government with an ultimatum that they must sort this out.”

UK Music, the collective voice of the UK Music industry, welcomed the letter to the PM from the influential group of MPs and their plans to hold an inquiry.

UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: 

“This is a hugely welcome move by MPs from across the political divide who are as keen as we are to overcome the barriers facing musicians and crew touring the EU.

“The extra costs and red tape mean some artists are losing work and some tours, particularly those by emerging musicians, are not viable at the moment.

“We need urgent Government action to break down the barriers facing musicians and crew including  a transitional support package of financial aid and further steps to encourage exports.”

The APPG on Music will kick off its inquiry into the barriers facing musicians touring the EU with its first evidence session later this month.

The MPs are keen to hear from those working in the music industry and others impacted by the barriers to touring as part of their inquiry.

As part of its investigation, the Group is calling for evidence on the impact the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) – the UK/EU trade deal signed following the UK’s departure from the EU – has had on UK music workers and companies looking to tour and work short-term in EU member states.

Their inquiry will focus in particular on the following areas: visas and work permits, carnets and CITES (instrument manufacturing materials), cabotage (transport issues), effect on the UK music industry, effect on emerging artists, and potential solutions.

UK Music supports the #LetTheMusicMove campaign, the artist-led campaign to address some of the issues that musicians and crew face, including increased costs, logistical nightmares and added bureaucracy.




Notes to editors: 

Some of the challenges facing UK artists and crew touring the EU are outlined in the case studies featured on the Let The Music Move website:

A picture of David Warburton MP can be found ​jfif icon here.

Pictures of UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin can be found here.

UK Music

UK Music is an industry-funded body, established in October 2008, to represent the collective interests of the recorded, published and live arms of the British music industry.