Brexit stage left: British band tells of farcical limitations encountered on EU tour

  • UK News
  • February 24, 2023
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Night time after night time, the Beatles honed their harmonies within the golf equipment of Hamburg.

However now, British bands attempting to fine-tune their sound by enjoying in Europe are struggling to make ends meet – or giving up fully – due to the limitations created by Brexit, a charity for musicians has stated.

Walt Disco, an up-and-coming goth-glam band from Glasgow, have informed of the close to farcical limitations they confronted on a latest tour taking in gigs in Eire and the Netherlands.

The primary problem was to finish the customs kinds to get an ATA carnet, or devices passport, to get a waiver for his or her van at border management.

For Walt Disco’s lead singer, Jocelyn Si, 24, this meant shopping for their first lavatory scales and weighing themselves with and with out every instrument to inform customs of the burden of their non permanent exports.

The following problem, on arrival in Belfast, was to work out the right way to get clearance to journey throughout the border into the EU and on to Dublin.

“You suppose you get off the ferry and all it’s a must to do is hand over the paperwork. However no … it’s a must to discover the customs space, which isn’t within the ferry port. It’s a must to drive round Belfast to search out it,” stated their supervisor Hamish Fingland, a reference to the shortage of implementation of the Northern Eire protocol.

After their gig in Dublin they took a ferry again through the UK to go to the continent, however needed to take a costlier “freight” route as their gear was now a declarable merchandise.

In Schiphol airport in Amsterdam there was related confusion as they left for an additional gig in Texas.

“We allowed ourselves three hours so we might go to customs on both sides of the airport, effectively upfront of a present, however it was so arduous to search out anyone within the airport who knew the place we have been to go. We’d go to at least one customs bit and so they’d say, ‘No, you have to go to the opposite finish of the airport,’” stated Si.

At £570, the ATA carnet for the devices eats into the marginal earnings small bands look ahead to in a world that’s already proving costlier due to the worth of petrol.

Stay performances can account for 90%-95% of a band’s earnings, in accordance with Assist Musicians, however Brexit has reduce into one among their most vital income streams, limiting them to £1,000 price of merchandise earlier than they get into a better taxable bracket.

For Walt Disco this isn’t good, equating to only 50 vinyl data at £20 every, a fraction of what they’d hope to promote after a efficiency to a typical 500-strong crowd.

“Genuinely we have been attending to the stage the place you’re considering, ‘Is it price going to that place to play in the mean time?’” stated Fingland.

“That is about careers. It’s not a few promoting a field of spanners into the EU. It’s about whether or not careers in music might be sustained for 10, 20, 40 years.”

Walt Disco’s expertise was typical for small bands attempting to forge their careers with EU excursions in 2022, stated James Ainscough, the chief govt of Assist Musicians, which established a £250,000 fund this spring to assist younger musicians take care of Brexit.

“The time the Beatles spent performing in Hamburg earlier than their document contract was formative to their sound,” stated Ainscough. “It’s the place they discovered their harmonies and discovered the right way to play extremely tightly and are available collectively as a band. You solely get that from the act of performing stay often and seeing what works and what doesn’t earlier than a crowd.

“The limitations Brexit has put up means all these careers are being held again, presumably even curtailed as some musicians will hand over.

“Most musicians are freelancers. They’re small companies. They’re precisely the sort of people who the Conservative occasion must be cherishing. These are individuals who, in Norman Tebbit’s terminology, bought on their bikes and went off and located work.

“One of many cool issues they must do is take the shackles off the music trade and permit UK music to get again to the worldwide stage.”

Si has one other view: “They in all probability know that musicians and inventive persons are not Conservative voters. Why would they appease us? From a Scottish perspective, loads of Scottish musicians can’t wait to vote for independence as a result of that appears like our solely approach again to the EU.”

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