Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones &Co. Make Plea to Save U.K. Live Music


Musicians that aren’t from the UK will need to apply for a visa and pay to perform in the country from 2021.

In 2019, the UK music industry was worth a record £4.5bn. Export revenues of British music grew by 7 per cent to a new high of £2.6bn.

Ed Sheeran, Paul McCartney and The Rolling Stones are amongst the more than 1,500 musicians who have signed an open letter to U.K. Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden demanding support for the live music industry that has been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“With no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak,” the letter states. It calls for a timeline for resumption of concerts, financial support and tax exemption on ticket sales. Citing research from Media Insight Consulting, the letter states that the music industry contributed £4.5 billion ($5.6 billion) to the U.K. economy last year, and supports 210,000 jobs.

“Until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this world-leading industry,” the letter states.


Criticising the decision, Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, told The New European: “We are deeply disappointed that free movement for musicians and other artists from the EU has been ruled out and we would ask the UK Government to reconsider our call for a two-year, multi-entry visa.

The visa restriction will be placed over the creative and sports industries, meaning musicians from outside the UK will have to pay to play in the country, whether it’s a UK tour, a festival, or a one-off show.

Anyone in the creative industry (both EU and non-EU) wanting to travel to the UK after 2021 will have to have nearly £1000 in savings in their account 90 days before applying for the visa as a proof that they can support themselves, unless that person is “fully approved (‘A-rated’)”.

In terms of fees for the visa, it seems that individual musicians and band members will be expected to pay £244 to apply for a visa to enter the UK

Sheeran topped the international bestseller list with his record-obliterating third album Divide, while Rag’n’Bone Man – at the time a relative newcomer – placed fourth with his debut album, Human. (

Revenues from the EU are a critical element of the business,

Live events accounted for £1bn of revenue, thanks to major world tours by the Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Sir Paul McCartney – five of the top 10 most successful world tours were from UK acts. The O2 in London was the world’s most popular arena that year.

But there are growing fears that Brexit could scupper this success. Artists such as Rod Stewart have been vocal in their wish to have a second referendum – a people’s vote – on Brexit. “I think the people have been fooled,” he said in a recent interview with The Independent.

“They’ve been lied to… whether we drop out of the customs union or whatever, I think it all needs to be rescheduled and we should have a new referendum because people are fed up with it.”

A number of famous composers, singers and producers signed a letter by Bob Geldof that spoke of how the UK could become a “cultural jail” if faced with the prospect of reduced royalties and artists who are not able to cross borders with the ease they do now.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), says that a “strong” agreement with the EU is required to ensure Brexit does not negatively impact Britain’s musical imports and exports.

Earlier this year, the UK-based Beggars Group, which houses Mercury Prize-winning artist Sampha along with labels Rough Trade, XL Recordings (home to Radiohead and Adele) and 4AD, issued a warning over the effect Brexit could have on emerging artists – specifically with regards to restrictions on travel for staff and artists, tariff costs, duties and withholding taxes on royalties.

“The saddest thing is always the number of artists struggling to get visas to come and perform. What we’re seeing this year is unexpected and even more depressing, which is artists saying we’re just not going to tackle the immigration system, saying it’s too difficult and too expensive, and it’s humiliating.”

NME Columnist Mark Beaumont thinks Roger Daltrey was talking about the wrong generation.

To be fair, it was a silly question. Roger Daltrey will tour Europe after Brexit in exactly the same way he did before we joined the EU. He’ll be jetting in from a central continental hub on a plane with his face on the front to soak up the lion’s share of a major festival’s profits and get back in time for a salmon supper and Three Men In A Boat. He won’t notice Brexit as he’s swept through fast-track on an airport buggy painted with a mod target roof in his honour. He’s not going to be down any embassies with the best part of four months’ rent queuing for elaborate visas, or arguing until dawn with any Guardia over the precise number of guitar picks he’s allowed to have in his fleet of 12-wheelers. Roger Daltrey will be flying over, past and around all of that bollocks. Roger Daltrey will tour Europe just fine.



Leave A Reply