Elton John has spoken about the need for a “short-term fix” for post-Brexit touring following the government’s failure to secure visa-free travel for musicians.
The EU had allegedly offered visa-free touring options to the UK; however, the government rejected the compromise. Their plan allowed artists 90 days in every 180 days legal certainty across all EU MS via a joint declaration on paid activities. The UK then tried to narrow it down to 30 days, categorised as a “mode 4” commitment. Mode 4, however, doesn’t guarantee that musicians or crew wouldn’t be exempt from visas and now musicians find themselves back at square one.
Conservative MP Caroline Dinenage previously acknowledged the situation and claimed that the EU’s solution would not have ended free movement for citizens after Brexit. She stated the agreement would have allowed “visa-free short-stays for all EU citizens”.
Elton John was among over 100 artists, including Liam Gallagher, Ed Sheeran, and Robert Plant, condemning the UK Government for having “shamefully failed” the music industry. Now, John has written an opinion piece for The Guardian that looks at this issue’s importance. “Getting your music across to crowds from a different culture to your own, who don’t necessarily speak the same language as you, just makes you a better musician,” he wrote.
“As I discovered in the ’60s, you can spend months in a rehearsal room painstakingly perfecting your craft and you won’t learn as much about live performance as you do in half an hour trying to win over an unfamiliar audience. You have to have that visual contact with other human beings.
“Either the Brexit negotiators didn’t care about musicians, or didn’t think about them, or weren’t sufficiently prepared,” John said. “They screwed up. It’s ultimately down to the British government to sort it out: they need to go back and renegotiate.”
He then explained that “renegotiating freedom of movement is complicated and is going to take a lot of time”, which is why he believes there needs to be a short-term fix in the interim period before the long-term futures of freedom of movement have been tied up.
“What musicians need now is a short-term fix,” John added. “We should set up a support organisation, funded partly by the music industry itself, where artists who don’t have the kind of infrastructure that I benefit from can access lawyers and accountants to help them navigate the touring problems created by Brexit.”