James singer Tim Booth warns of post-Brexit touring 'disaster' for UK music industry

Post-Brexit visa rules are a "disaster" for the British music industry, James singer Tim Booth has warned.

Tim Booth of James performing at T in the Park in 2014. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA

The Bradford-born musician told The Yorkshire Post that the outcome of the Brexit trade deal - which failed to secure visa-free travel for UK artists and their crews in EU nations - will make tours in Europe unaffordable even for established bands like James.

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"There are a lot of countries in Europe where we would be lucky to break even and now we will lose money if we go and play in France or Germany," he said. "It is going to affect where we can afford to play. But it is affecting younger bands much worse than us. It is a disaster.

“This Government has never taken the music industry seriously and yet it is one of the most massive generators of income and creativity and world esteem this country produces."

Earlier this year, more than 280,000 music fans signed a petition calling for the establishment of a free cultural work permit to allow for visa-free travel in EU states for UK musicians.

The Government and the EU have both blamed each other for the failure for an agreement to be reached.

Booth said: “The fishing industry generates nothing like the same revenue and yet they have done nothing for music.

“What happens to the roadies, the soundmen and those whose lives are based around touring? We are ok, we have managed to make ends meet and make a record but any bands down the ladder from us must be really struggling because you can’t afford to go with all that paperwork and the extra finance. It is what this Government is, so what do you expect?

“I don’t think right-wing Governments like art because art is freedom of expression and tends towards egalitarianism. Art tends to be a little more left so I think they are quite happy for it to be decimated.”

In January, 100 well-known artists including Sir Elton John, Ed Sheeran and Liam Gallagher signed an open letter to the Government saying they had “shamefully failed” the music industry.

“The deal done with the EU has a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be. Everyone on a European music tour will now need costly work permits for many countries they visit and a mountain of paperwork for their equipment,” the letter said.

The Government said its “sensible” proposal on this matter had been rejected by the EU during negotiations. But the EU said the UK was the one to refuse its visa-free plan for musicians and the result is one of the “inevitable consequences” of Brexit.

Currently, British musicians and crews are no longer guaranteed visa-free travel and may require extra work permits in some EU countries.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “We’ve always been clear that the end of freedom of movement would have implications for professional mobility.

"However, short-term, temporary visits for paid performances by UK musicians are possible in at least 17 EU countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, without needing visas or work permits. Specific requirements vary from country to country and it's important to check Member States' rules before travelling.

“Alongside new guidance for musicians, we are continuing to work closely with countries across the EU to see what further support we can provide for the sector.”

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