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Bookings of UK musicians at European music festivals plummet by 45%

The stark figures come days after Elton John warned that upcoming artists risked being "stranded in Dover"

By Nick Reilly

British artists have dropped by 45 percent in an EU festival season (Picture: Pexels)
British artists have dropped by 45 percent in an EU festival season (Picture: Pexels)

The number of British bands playing festivals across Europe in the first post-Brexit festival season has fallen by almost half, new research suggests.

Figures revealed today (July 21) by campaign group Best for Britain reveals that the number of British artists scheduled to perform in Europe’s latest festival season has fallen by 45%, compared to pre-Brexit years of 2017-2019.

The huge drop comes amid fears that Brexit is hampering the opportunities of emerging UK artists on the continent, with Elton John recently warning that they risk being “stranded in Dover” if a solution to extensive rules and restriction is not struck with the EU.

It comes ahead of a meeting of the cross-party UK Trade and Business Commission later today to take evidence on the post-Brexit challenges facing the UK music and travel industries during the first festival and holiday season without Covid restrictions.

Naomi Smith, CEO of Best for Britain said: “The Beatles famously made their name in Europe and it’s on tour that many musicians gain the formative experiences and audiences they need to take off. 

“With their dud Brexit deal, our lame duck Government has not only robbed emerging British talent of these opportunities abroad, but has also made international acts think twice before including Glasgow or London in their European tours.”

Chief Executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians and UK Trade and Business Commissioner, Deborah Annetts said: “Previous witnesses to our commission have described how, if you’re a festival organiser in Barcelona who needs to fill a last minute slot, British bands will be at the bottom of your list due to new barriers created by this botched Brexit deal. 

“Whoever ends up replacing Boris Johnson must commit to removing this needless bureaucracy which is stifling the prosperity and creativity of the next generation of British musicians.”

Earlier this year, indie band White Lies told Rolling Stone UK how the cancellation of a show in Paris was a result of Brexit and “an appallingly-run government system in the UK”.

The London band were due to kick off their lengthy 2022 European headline tour in the French capital in April, but were forced to pull the gig on the morning of the show after the truck carrying their instruments and equipment was “detained by Brexit legislation leaving England, along with countless other trucks”, as they told fans on social media.

Speaking to Rolling Stone UK as their European tour continued in Frankfurt, drummer Jack Lawrence-Brown explained: “These shows that we’re playing are often the first gigs that people have been to in two or three years now, and it’s an absolute nightmare for people who were looking forward to doing that show and finally seeing music again.

“To have it cancelled – through really no fault of their own and no fault of our own, either – is just [a result of], in my opinion, an appallingly run government system in the UK. I’m sure it’s not what the people who voted for Brexit imagined it would be.” 

The government is yet to respond to the latest figures.