Competitive Lead Times & Pricing    •    Worldwide Shipping    •    Down-To-Earth Customer Service
A Beginner’s Guide - How To Approach Grassroots Venues To Book Your First Show

Chris caught up with local venue managers to share what music promoters look for when being approached by new acts.

Read more
Communication, Community and Celebration – Combatting mental health issues within the music industry

What to look out for and how to ensure that the people you love don't suffer in silence.

Read more
CD or not CD? That is the question.

Where did it all fall apart? In defence of the beleaguered compact disc

Read more
We Are Expanding - Join the Family

We're on the hunt for candidates to fill a creative role in account management - is that you?

Read more
Making a Difference - Preserving The Creative Heart of Cornwall's Forgotten Corner

Maker Heights provides affordable art studios and music spaces for the benefit of the community

Read more
For The Record - The Do's and Don'ts of Releasing Your First Album

So you've recorded your debut album? Nice work! What's next? Well, all of this basically...

Read more
Closing Time - How Can We Save Our Music Venues?

Grassroots venues are disappearing fast. For the music industry to survive, the show must go on...

Read more
The Stylus Council - The Changing Face of Record Store Day

DMS music writer Darren Johns delves into how Record Store Day has evolved since it began 10 years ago.

Read more
Festival Fever - Still Looking To Perform at Music Festivals in 2018?

It's not too late! Top tips for bands applying for those last few 2018 festival slots...

Read more
The Progression of The Music Industry Starts at Home

We caught up with the ISM to talk about the decline of our music scene and how to fix it

Read more
'Time for T' Winners of £2000 DMS x Awesome Merch Competition Prize

Brighton folk quintet bag 250 colour records and £1000 of Awesome merch in recent competition

Read more
Representing DMS at FastForward International Music Conference

We sent Sam and Tom across to the FastForward flagship music conference in Amsterdam

Read more
DMS & Awesome Merch Offer Up £2000+ Album Launch Package Prize

In a Band? Dream of Starting A Label? You Could Win 250 Colour Records In Custom Sleeves and £1000 of Awesome Merchandise...

Read more
DMS Pledge New Computer Suite for African School

DMS Action a 5 Year Financial Support Plan and Begin Accumulating Further Donations of Technology

Read more
DMS Sponsored 'Indie-Con 2018' is a Roaring Success

DMS Continue to Support Association of Independent Music at Their Annual Conference

Read more
Legislation to Protect Future of Music Venues Brought to Parliament

Today Could Mark a Significant Turning Point in The Future Of The British Music Industry

Read more
DMS Announced as Title Sponsor For AIM's Indie-Con 2018

DMS Link Up With AIM Once Again To Support Our Vibrant Independent Music Sector

Read more
Back in Time - A Brief History of the Vinyl Record

We all love them now, but where did the vinyl record originate?

Read more
Southwest Composer Joins Alter Bridge at Royal Albert Hall

Simon Dobson Conducted The Accompanying Parallax Orchestra

Read more
Dave Cornthwaite Completes 14th 1000+ Mile Expedition

The Pedal Powered Adventurer Cycled The Length or Norway, By Boat

Read more
Renowned Frontman To Reopen Local Pub as Music Venue

Mike Mathieson of Mad Dog McRea Has Always Supported Emerging Talent

Read more
DMS at The Great Escape Festival 2017

DMS & AIM To Host The Great Escape Festival Opening Drinks Reception

Read more
Picking Up The Pace With Dino Zamparelli

DMS Team Up With Southwest Racing Driver To Battle For The Porsche Carrera Cup

Read more
DMS in Zimbabwe with the Makakoba Project

DMS Collaborate With Major Artists On An African Sustainable Education Mission

Read more
1600 Miles And Counting

Positivity & Exploration - Dave Cornthwaite vs The Mississippi River

Read more
Dave Cornthwaites' Expedition1000

From Designer to Adventurer - Why We Love Dave Cornthwaites' Style

Read more
DMS & Pete Goss say PACK IT IN!

DMS Join Forces With Legendary Southwest Sailor Pete Goss MBE

Read more
2007 Archipelago Raid

DMS Sponsor Two British Teams in the 2007 Archipelago Raid

Read more
Introducing Conrad Humphreys

DMS Partner With International Yachtsman Conrad Humphreys

Read more
Blue Climate And Oceans Project
Conrad Humphreys

Conrad Humphreys Launches the ‘Blue Climate And Oceans Project'

Read more

Access Some Areas - What Brexit Currently Holds For Touring Musicians

The past is history

It used to be so easy. You’d arrange a clutch of shows with reliable promoters on the mainland, book the Eurotunnel, grab your passports, hop in the van and go wild on the continent. Sure, the surly Bavarian cops or French gendarmes may have stopped, searched and intimidated you a few times - and perhaps fined you for carrying too many Marshall half-stacks - but it was all relatively painless, and plain sailing for the most part.

 Alas, that relatively serene scenario seems set to change for the worse if/when Brexit is finally delivered next year. It’s the end of an era and the beginning of a serious headache for touring musicians. Despite the uncertainty, history tells us it’s safe to assume that musicians are in for a rough ride – as if general under-appreciation, low pay, increased living costs and arts funding cuts weren’t enough (thanks austerity). Indeed the future tag-team of Brexit and austerity could cause an epidemic of muso tap-outs and a reduction in homegrown talent – as many artists rely on Euro-wide touring as a chief source of income in an otherwise often financially fruitless endeavour.

22767120-d464-4075-9d0a-fe6ad0d055d1.jpg

Ever had to follow a police car to a weighbridge to receive judgement (and probably a fine)? Arguing with bandmates about whose speaker cabs are least necessary for the next show is not a fun situation. Image: Nashville Music Buzz


The U.S. vs them option

Quite how those changes will affect us is not yet known (par for the pre-Brexit course) but the core issue, freedom of movement, could become a thing of the past. To quote a particularly surly Bavarian cop, “das ist nicht gut.” One scenario could see the introduction of an expensive visa system similar to that of the USA, whereby band members would need to apply (and pay, a lot) well in advance for clearance, and pass a number of restrictive measurements. Talk to any independent UK artist who has toured the US, or vice-versa, and they’ll invariably regale you with at least one sorry tale of being refused at customs due to having the incorrect paperwork, or because some over-zealous immigration officer decided that they didn’t like the cut of the drummer’s jib. Oh and the classic, having to cancel their tour because the visas weren’t processed in time. Now imagine having to do that for 27 EU member states. However you cut it, bureaucracy’s a bitch, and Brexit will be nothing if not a red tape parade.

7c1af68e-f1c9-40ff-910d-dee44c1cddad.jpg

Existing European options that probably won't help

Another unwelcome possibility is the re-introduction of the Carnet: essentially, a passport for your musical equipment. Certain Eastern European countries with hard borders still operate under this system. It’s complicated, costly and bothersome, and requires travelling musicians to account for every single musical and merchandise item in their touring cache. Non-EU nation, Switzerland, is a best-case scenario although they are still part of the single market. Passing through isn’t too difficult but some border guards will slap an arbitrary levy on all of a touring entourage’s merchandise, regardless of how much is subsequently sold. Not exactly fair practice but it’s hard to argue when they’re holding all the cards, and your hard-earned merch.

To obtain visas, artists need to prove their status as credible musicians – proof of projected earnings, full itinerary, duration of stay – but of course the work that musicians do is not always reflected in profits. Music industry showcases, building a fanbase from scratch, gig/tour share initiatives… the often speculative nature of independent touring doesn’t always reap immediate or visible dividends and, as such, these legitimate endeavours fall outside the remit of visa confirmation. In fact, for smaller touring acts or tour supports, it’s often not profitable at all.

80ac2647-8da3-4ccb-9bec-dd95dc514a58.jpg

It's alright for some, but that's not alright

Whichever way the cards fall, the major league players won’t need to worry. They will always have enough legal clout to sidestep all the emergent issues. It’s the medium and small sized bands, particularly those operating on a shoestring budget, that will bear the brunt when the Brexit drawbridge is raised. Artists who don’t enjoy the benefits of a sustainable income and whose self-sufficiency is finite. As always, emerging artists will be hit the hardest just as they are at home, with grassroots venue closures and slashed funding for arts and entertainment.

 It cuts both ways. European musicians coming to the UK will face the same obstacles, which will inevitably lead to a percentage of touring acts sidestepping the British Isles altogether. Musicians Union General Secretary, Horace Trubridge, recently stated: “We’ve always been – artistically and culturally – a very welcoming country. We love artists coming over here… If we become less welcoming, they simply won’t come. Our reputation as a country that embraces all arts and culture will be severely damaged.” Inevitably, cultural diversity will be damaged, as British gig-goers’ opportunities to experience pan-European talent are reduced. Futhermore, UK festivals that host independent EU stages will struggle, as will the already-fragile music performance exchange programmes. And it’s not just the musicians who will be affected. Crew members, sound engineers, tour managers, merch workers, stage managers, band drivers; they all face the same challenges to their Euro-wide livelihood as Brexit edges closer.

ea72ae1c-1972-457e-aa61-433a95a8f041.jpg

Theatrical circus band Pirates of the Caribina are on tour in Europe this summer. The amount of musical gear, trapeze rigging and rehearsed pro stage crews that their shows require is already a logistical headache. Image: Roundhouse

Many other secondary issues that affect musicians may arise from all this instability. To use an example close to home, vinyl sales will likely be affected since the vast majority of vinyl is pressed in European countries such as Czech or Germany. Costs of manufacturing along with import levies could mean that records will simply be too expensive an endeavour for smaller bands to undertake. Equally, British artists’ access to European development funding could be reduced to a big fat zero, another important fact that was conveniently not mentioned during the referendum campaign. Consequently, ambitious bands of the future will be faced with more obstacles, more financial hardship and more isolation. Great.

The Guardian have written an informative piece on this too, we recommend reading this next if you're interested!


Really though? Can we think positively for a minute?

Sure, some things won’t feel any different. The UK has never been part of the Schengen zone, despite our EU membership. We have always been required to show our passports at customs. So on that level, things won’t change. And, theoretically speaking, once a UK band has manage to get past French customs they should be free to travel throughout the mainland, crossing Western European borders at will, as they can right now - ever-changing border control policies notwithstanding. Although, if we do actually end up leaving the EU, you can bet your bottom cent that security operations and police forces throughout the mainland will be keeping their eyes peeled for British registration plates, ready to pounce and punish us for our Brexit sins. Sorry, of course it will all be fine, the government have got this.

Thankfully, there is a groundswell of support for musicians championed by MPs, the Trade Union Congress, and many music industry institutions such as UK Music and AIM, who all wish to protect creative careers during and after Brexit negotiations. So here’s hoping that common sense and a progressive ethos win the day, despite the fact that a rejection of those values is exactly why we’re in this bloody mess in the first place.

12627b5b-6b82-4f90-8ea7-4dc8f361d09d.png

Ever the subtle campaigners, Greenpeace have made their own battle bus. Image: Huffington Post / Greenpeace

Previous Article
Copyright © 2018 Disc Manufacturing Services Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
Cookie Policy  -  Privacy Policy  -  Terms & Conditions  -  Technical Conditions & Disclaimers
Disc Manufacturing Services Ltd, The Pressing House, Faringdon Road, Plymouth, PL4 9ER. United Kingdom.
Registered in England and Wales no 5127922 at this address. VAT registration no 838 5310 21