I've been wanting to write something on how Brexit would affected the UK's music industry for months now. But after so much speculation and disinformation surrounding the issue, there was never any concrete position to take. But now that Article 50 has been triggered, the UK government looks set to pull the country out of the EU's single market, and the pound has been dropping at a record rate, it seems pretty clear as to what road we are now heading down. But while most news will have you expecting that we are heading for some long-term problems, there are still some benefits that we can take away from this situation.
Selling music internationally
While the pursuit to find sales in the market will always be a struggle for most, after Brexit we shouldn't expect much change in this department. Given that the two largest distributors of download music are both international organisations (Apple and Amazon), the cost of selling music on these platforms isn't likely to change. However, as Amazon uses an international model that simply converts UK prices into other country's currencies, the fall in the pound could actually be very beneficial to UK-based artists. The further the pound fall, the cheaper our music will appear to overseas customers.
But unfortunately, those using Apple's iTunes may find that their prices go up. This is due to a uniformed principle that Apple have enacted on their music services. Essentially they want all music to be sold at roughly the same price in order to make an equal playing field for all artists looking to crack the charts. But if our currency falls, then overseas acts will need to up their prices to cover the shortfall. Meaning all music on our end could become more expensive as time goes on. Either way, it'll create some healthy competition between the two companies, but may see the UK consumer losing out.
Hitting the road
This has always been one of the most complicated and expensive aspects of being in a newly formed band. How much touring can you afford to take? The model currently acts where promoters cover all the costs that a band would have. Obviously some bands aren't prominent enough yet to warrant such high demands, so for those, paying out of your own pocket is expected. And while Brexit won't affect British bands touring within their borders, anything outside of that could become a sticking point. As it currently stands, British people enjoy visa-less travel throughout the EU. But with strong indications of border controls coming in, this could all come to an end. And given that visas aren't free and most bands need to accommodate a whole range of individuals, including members, managers and sound technicians, costs will undoubtably go up. Which is either coming out of the band's pocket or the promoters, giving them second thoughts about booking more risky acts.
But with everything in these changes, the situation is also reversed with acts from Europe looking to play in the EU. This would prove particularly difficult in the clubbing culture, given that most of the biggest DJs in the world are actually from continental Europe. And as Ibiza, Croatia, Berlin and Barcelona still remain staples of the summer clubbing destinations, many British DJs and producers could find themselves priced out of these locations for artists that don't need visas. Not to mention the effects to overall revenue the clubs in these places could start to lose if less Brits flock to them every year.
European exposure in the UK
While we are expecting things to get very difficult for members of EU countries to break into the UK's music market in the future, at the moment, there is a small window of opportunity for European artists looking to gain a foothold on our shores. While we still remain a member of the EU and have a depreciated currency, the affordability for non-UK acts to acquire PR and promotional backing has never been easier. With a deflated pound, it has become far cheaper for a European artist to gain representation here than it has ever been. So while we only have a few years before tariffs and other charges rebalance the costs, now could be a opportunity for foreign artists to take advantage of our position as well as promotion companies to make a higher profit.
But it is not just overseas acts that could benefit from this short-term market trouble. Many UK-based musical instrument companies like JJ Guitars, Gordon Smith, and Burns could also find that now is the best time to sell their wares to other EU countries. Many of these brands have found themselves struggling against major US manufacturers like Gibson and Fender in recent years, but with a smaller currency, they have now become very appealing to other European countries and should seek to boost their profit line before the single market closes.
As we can see, there are many pros and cons to the forthcoming Brexit divorce. And while we still have no real idea of what to expect when everything falls into place, there are still many opportunities for both UK and EU musicians and companies to benefit from this situation. It may not work out for the best, but for now, there is plenty of possible chances to take advantage of while we still can.