As the United Kingdom inches closer and closer to its break from the European Union, commonly known as Brexit, much of the British economy has had to grapple with the fact that, as time wears on, it becomes more and more likely that Brexit will actually happen. The coming change will inextricably change the United Kingdom, and for many businesses, it will likely be for the worse.
Of course, one of the industries affected will be the music industry. These changes will affect the smallest record stores and the biggest record labels, the up and coming artist and the artists on arena tours. Let’s break down some of the most worrisome changes for the music industry.
The falling pound
In the wake of the Brexit vote, the value of the pound against foreign currencies took a significant tumble and has not really recovered much value since. While the UK continues to be one of the world’s most expensive currencies, its falling value has led to companies like Apple to raise prices on digital music.
With the instability created by Brexit, the value of the pound sterling will probably continue to fluctuate, which will affect the ability of UK citizens to afford things, since wage adjustments tend to have a delay from currency fluctuations.
The end of European trade agreements
Much of the UK’s trade today is governed by trade agreements negotiated by the EU on behalf of its members. Further, trade within the EU bloc is not governed by any trade agreement, since it functions as one borderless economy (in many ways, we’re not going to overcomplicate this).
In leaving the EU, not only will the UK have to attempt to negotiate its own trade agreements with close allies like Canada, Australia, and the US, but also with the EU itself. Many of these countries, and especially the EU, are not happy about the UK’s imminent exit and would likely not be liable to give the UK much space in a negotiation.
Of course, if the UK fails to reach any trade agreement, the UK would be subject to tariffs on many goods and services coming in from abroad. Of particular note for us, vinyl records are an imported good that would be subject to tariff, leading to skyrocketing prices in UK record shops.
The re-legislation of EU laws
Many laws that govern things in the UK were established, or track very closely, to EU laws that govern the same things, whether the UK complied voluntarily or not. Two of those things are how royalties are paid and how copyright is protected.
With royalties, the biggest issue when it comes to Brexit is transparency. One of the challenges in collecting royalties for the proper rights holder is finding everyone who is using the material and finding out how they’re profiting off of it. Within a larger EU ecosystem, this is easier to do, since there’s much more information sharing between companies, ministries, and, if necessary, law enforcement agencies. With Brexit, those things are going to have to cross national borders again.
With copyright, many people are concerned that UK lawmakers are eager to make copyright protections more onerous and have been held in check by Brussels. The UK already extended copyright protection from 50 to 70 years when the EU issued a directive approving. This affects many people who seek to use material, particularly old, otherwise unused material, and make new art.
The effect of immigration
The UK never participated in the Schengen zone, the European area where nations don’t enforce border controls among each other. Nevertheless, being a part of the European Union does bring an ease of travel and work for people coming into the UK, as well as UK citizens and residents.
One concern has to be that with Brexit indicating that UK lawmakers would like to clamp down on borders, many touring artists from outside the UK, particularly EU ones that once could easily visit the isles, will avoid scheduling stops in the UK. Part of the reason why places like London voted overwhelmingly against Brexit was that they are most likely to be negatively affected by this part of Brexit and the associated loss of revenue.
As the prospect of Brexit looms, the music industry will have to cope with these new realities that will affect every aspect of the industry and every person who works in it. People outside the UK will also be making decisions influenced by Brexit that will often not be to the benefit of UK citizens and residents. While it may be too late to turn back the clock on Brexit, we can only hope that the nation manages to reestablish as much of what was lost as possible.
And for those who supported, and continue to support Brexit, I truly do hope that it ends up benefiting the UK in the long run.
Go out tonight, and any night. Jukely is a concert subscription that gives members guestlist access to hundreds of music events – for one price. Whenever you want to go out, you’ll always have something to do. Learn more and sign up at jukely.com.