• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email

A cross-party group of MPs and peers set out a roadmap for making EU touring simpler and more financially viable for musicians and crew.

image of two musicians performing


The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Music is calling on the government to do more to support British artists and crew touring Europe post-Brexit.

The group's latest report, Let the Music Move - A New Deal for Touring, recommends that the government works with the EU to improve the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), pushes for a separate Cultural Touring Agreement, and establishes a Music Export Strategy. 

“It’s time to leave aside the divisions and old arguments and focus on what’s right for UK musicians and the UK music industry,” says APPG on Music Chair Kevin Brennan.


The report says barriers introduced by the TCA after the UK left the EU are “clogging the arteries of the sector…damaging its long-term health by reducing growth opportunities, making the UK live music sector less competitive and dismantling the talent pipeline”.

It calls for touring opportunities that are as paper free as possible, financially viable and simple for all music workers and businesses to navigate.

Among the key recommendations is agreeing an exemption in the TCA for touring cultural workers, akin to the visa-free travel currently permitted for those conducting market research on a business trip or attending overseas trade fairs.

It also says the government should work with individual EU states to agree 90-day visa-free working in a 180-day period. This agreement currently stands with one EU nation, Spain, although shorter agreements exist with the majority of EU countries.

Even if these recommendations are met, problems are likely to persist for some workers. The report notes that for UK music workers working in European musical theatres, theatre orchestras and operas, who often need to be in Europe for an extended period, the 90-days in every 180 remains “insufficient to sustain a career”.

The TCA is up for review in 2025, which the APPG on Music says the government should take as an opportunity to work towards a separate, Europe-wide, Cultural Touring Agreement.

The group says the agreement should include exemptions on cabotage restrictions for registered specialist hauliers travelling in the UK and EU, and a mutually recognised Musicians’ Passport, consisting of a visa and work permit waiver for tours and short-term engagements.

“If the UK Government is to be taken seriously in its commitment to fixing EU touring for the cultural sector, then it must give prominence at every opportunity for the need to reform the TCA,” the report says.

Centralised support

The government should appoint a ‘Touring Tsar’ to act as a single point of contact for the touring cultural sector, according to the report.

Brennan says the Touring Tsar could work across government departments to get rid of restrictions that are hampering the growth of the music industry and creation of new jobs.

The perception that there is not one government department holding the pen on tackling touring issues has been a “consistent complaint from the sector”, the report says, and instituting a Music Export Office is recommended as a way to create a central hub of information.

The government is also being called on to consider fiscal stimuli to help musicians and crew meet the costs associated with post-Brexit touring.

APPG on Music suggests a Transitional Support Fund to help UK music exporters deal with the increased costs of trading in Europe and says it would welcome a fund similar to the £23m support scheme the fishery industry received after the UK first left the EU.

It also proposes expanding the BPI-administered Music Export Growth Scheme and the PRS Foundation-administered International Showcase Fund, which have been shown to return £12 and £15.20 for every £1 invested respectively.

PRS for Music says it fully supports the proposals in the report, with its CEO Andrea Czapary Martin adding that touring is vital income for PRS members: “The industry needs solutions from the government to take action to break down barriers to touring.”

Dual registration opens

APPG on Music’s report was published the day before the Department for Transport’s (DfT) start date for new dual registration provisions, which the government's website says will come into effect today (20 July).

Under regulations first announced in May, hauliers working on cultural events that are able to split their operational fleet across both the UK and another international location can apply for dual registration, allowing for visa-free travel in both territories.

The move was largely welcomed by the industry but concerns remain it will prove too costly for smaller-scale tours and grassroots musicians. It is also unlikely to solve the issues that touring orchestras operating one specialist truck currently face.

APPG on Music’s report says the proposal will “undoubtedly help”, but adds the solution has “[given] up the UK’s leading position in the European event haulage sector”, with split fleets expected to reduce the availability of vehicles for UK domestic tours.

Association of British Orchestras Chief Executive Mark Pemberton welcomed the report’s findings and told ArtsProfessional that despite increased challenges, UK orchestras are still managing to tour the continent post-pandemic.

“While there are indeed more bureaucracy and costs associated with European tours, this doesn’t mean touring has stopped, it just means there are more hurdles to navigate.”

“We are concerned that too much negative messaging may have the unintended consequence of deterring European promoters from booking British orchestras.”

“We look forward to working with colleagues in the commercial music industry to encourage both the UK Government and the EU to take a pragmatic approach to ensuring barriers to touring are lifted, so we can welcome the best of music-making in both directions.”