Brexit is the gift that keeps on giving. Giving us endless disappointment that is. The British public’s shock decision to remove ourselves from the European Union will no doubt have countless negative impacts. One aspect not often mentioned when grumbling about Brexit starts is the effects that it will have on the music industry. Will Brexit be the final nail in the coffin for the music industry or will there continue to be a small stream of talented musicians breaking the money grabbing mould?
Immigration was a keystone in the debates leading up to the vote. At risk of offending the 51% responsible I won’t go into my opinion on the matter. However, the fact is that there will no longer be free movement between the UK and other EU countries. This could result in the demise of small bands trying to make it in Europe. The dream of throwing equipment in the back of a van, getting a ferry over to mainland Europe and touring non-stop in some of the world’s most artsy cities will no longer be reachable for a lot of small groups. Lots of musicians don’t earn a penny from their music in their early years, so having to pay for visas to enter every country they tour will not be feasible. Without gaining the exposure they need through relentless gigging, small bands won’t get their music heard to new fans, which is so vital when trying to gain a reputation as an established act. Thus, talented musicians may be hindered by the mere fact that the prospect of travelling around Europe will no longer be viable due to the sheer cost it will amount to.
There’s also the issue of equipment prices. The pound has lost considerable value against the dollar since the vote, and music shops are feeling the effects. American products from brands such as Fender and Gibson have gone up in value, with one music shop owner saying he’s had to raise prices by as much as 40%. American companies make a lot of the professional instruments that bands simply need to get a competitive sound quality. You wouldn’t expect a builder to construct a brick wall without the right equipment, so how can you expect a band to make a great sound without decent gear? For large bands this probably won’t be an issue. But for the working class musicians that have to save money for years to be able to buy the right equipment, this could be devastating. The British public has often had an attachment to working class heroes, like Oasis and the Libertines, which we may have to let go of. If equipment prices are not within their price range, a band’s talents may be lost by their inability to fully showcase their talents with the right equipment and lights that have the potential to shine so bright will simply die out.
Now, imagine that you’re part of a young band who are fortunate enough to have parents that can make the price effects of Brexit redundant. You would still need to gig to gain an audience right? But what if there was nowhere to gig. You’d never be able to break your way into the music industry. Brexit could make this nightmare a reality for many young musicians. The EU gives more than £1 billion to the creative industries, of which a considerable amount goes to supporting struggling music venues. Many music venues rely on this funding to stay afloat so without it we could see many of them shut down. It’s hard enough for small bands to get a gig these days, imagine what it’ll be like when the gigging scene they’re trying to break into fully dries out.
So there you have it. Thanks to the shock outcome of the EU Referendum, we can wave goodbye to the success of small bands that give us hope for the future of music. There will be an even greater gulf between the acts on independent labels who will not be able to afford such changes and the acts on mainstream labels who have money pumped into their success. The working class heroes that Britain is famous for will be priced out of the industry and, even if they could afford it, the British music scene will probably be on its deathbed anyway without EU funding.
One important point to remember is that although we can predict the effects of Brexit, there’s no way to tell exactly what will happen. I simply hope that the music industry isn’t hit too hard so that me, and the rest of ‘the 49%’, can continue to enjoy brilliant music from new British artists.
(Image: The Guardian)