Post Brexit Challenges for Touring Musicians.

Last night I posted about the possibility of turning down a European date due to Brexit. Lots of “Don’t be silly! Go for it!” type comments, which suggests a misunderstanding about how careers like mine work. If I don’t play, it won’t be up to me. So here’s a quick explanation of what I mean that addresses some misconceptions:

1) Yes, it seems fancy. But for me, overseas gig offers aren’t lottery wins; they are my day job. Performing with the gloves is what puts food on the table for my kids. I’m just trying to do a day’s work, like anyone else.

2) We don’t know how we’re leaving yet. It’s likely there will be costs such as visas and Carnets. Carnets are fees that can apply to the equipment a business needs to do the work. That can include laptops, instruments and is based on the value of the equipment. I’m not chucking a Baby Taylor in a gig bag. My show rig is complex. And expensive.

3) Hiring equipment isn’t possible for the most part. The rig is completely bespoke – I certainly can’t hire gloves. 

4) My last tour was profitable because I could say yes to European events with no hassle. Just negotiate a fee and hop on a plane.

5) I’m a one man operation, with a very small following. I can play for fairly modest fees and make a decent living, because my overheads are low. I want to keep it that way.

6) “Just factor the costs into your fee and pass on the expenses!” A LOT of my bookings come via charities and NPOs. Adding all these extra costs without bringing anything new to the table (I’m likely to be more expensive than last time round just because Brexit) will likely result in loosing gigs. 

7) The visibility of disabled musicians is already dire. Less gigs for me is less visibility for an entire demographic. I’ve performed to tens of thousands of people in the last few years. It’s had a massive impact on the conversation around disability and music. This is important. 

8) None of this is comparable to going on holiday in Europe. I’m running a business. 

9) I love Europe. It’s been good to me. Brexit could fundamentally change how I make a living. I’m glad it’s a wonderful opportunity for you. Try to recognise that it’s not an opportunity for everyone. 

PLEASE – sign this petition. The MU has been on this campaign for a while, and this petition at least puts it more clearly out there beyond MU members.

So please, and especially if you’re for this thing, get behind artists like me and let this government know that musicians are being hit hard by Brexit. Let’s keep music live, and keep it global. It’s a beautiful, important thing xx

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