Brexit: Musician fears being priced out of touring

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Image source, Harry Herd/Getty
Image caption,
Elles Bailey won artist of the year and album of the year at the UK Blues Awards 2020

A touring musician says she may have to spend at least £10,000 before even leaving the country due to post-Brexit travel rules for UK artists.

Bristol singer Elles Bailey has established a strong European fanbase.

But since leaving the EU, British artists are no longer guaranteed visa-free travel and face higher fees, paperwork and permit issues.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said his department is working to resolve the issues.

Ms Bailey said the situation was "heartbreaking" and has joined calls for a resolution.

The singer-songwriter said unless the travel rules were addressed, touring would become unviable for many up-and-coming artists and put them at risk of missing out on a career in music completely.

Image caption,
Artists like Elles are being supported by big names in the music industry such as Elton John and Liam Gallagher, who have signed an open letter demanding action

"Adele started somewhere. Ed Sheeran got out on the road and toured and now with these barriers to entry you don't know if you're going to get the next Ed Sheeran or next Adele," she said.

"I did a tour where we had 12 different countries. I probably did about 35 dates in 2019 in Europe and now on paper that's going to cost me at least an extra £10,000 before I've even left the country.

"People look to the UK to see where artists are coming from and this could massively change that and that's so heartbreaking, especially in a time when artists are suffering so much anyway," Ms Bailey said.

A Government spokesperson said: "We absolutely agree that musicians should be able to work across Europe.

"Though the EU rejected our proposals that would have made this easier, we are determined to work with the music industry on resolving any new barriers they face, so that touring can resume as soon as it is safe to do so."

'Europe is vital'

Music manager Ross Patel works with bands including Bristol's Elder Island and says touring allows artists to increase their fan base and is "vital" to success.

"In many cases having a loyal fan base in one market will be the difference between having a sustained career in music, and not," he said.

"Europe is vital to us. For a UK artist its historically been the easiest market to reach and gives them the ability to grow their fan base and audience." he said.

The Government and EU have so far been unable to agree a deal on how the system will work post-Brexit.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Oliver Dowden has held discussions with Sir Elton John and industry representatives over the issues facing musicians, and said there was "lots of work" being done by the government to find a solution.

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