Senior staff from Broadwick Live and Bloodstock have joined the Isle of Wight Festival’s John Giddings and Creative Artists Agency (CAA)’s Emma Banks in giving their verdicts and predictions on Brexit.
Speaking at the Live UK Summit, the industry experts weighed in on everything from the logistical to the financial implications of Brexit.
Broadwick Live’s CEO Gareth Cooper said he was deeply worried about the impact: “I was thinking seriously about not doing Snowbombing this year because of Brexit. We were worried about spending power, and people committing money, but also the logistics of it as we take seven trucks of production kit to Austria and it’s all ours. If there was a ‘no deal’ scenario and we had to use car lanes it’d become a nightmare. I’m not sure our production suppliers would’ve even bothered.”
He added that formalities can also deter trade: “We’ve done events with our own production in Switzerland, and eventually moved out, one reason being because of the [delays caused by the] car weighing situation.”
Solo Music Agency managing director John Giddings added that he feels ‘very strongly’ that Brexit will have a negative impact on touring: “Big acts will just swallow up the costs, but small, mid-range and emerging acts will really struggle as it’ll cost more to make it happen and it’ll take longer to travel from A-to-B-to-C-to-D and in different countries. The economies of scale is what it is all about – if it takes you a day to get in and out you still have to pay the overheads. I voted ‘Remain’ and I’m very proud of that.”
Bloodstock’s business development Alan Hungerford meanwhile said that no one knows for sure what to expect: “There’ll likely be more paperwork at customs depending if and how we leave, and the logistics will be more interesting, but it’ll be no different to touring ten years ago. You’ll have to be more ahead of the game.
“From a promoter point of view, bands must look at what other shows are booked that weekend. Agencies fees keep going up, so you’ll have to be smarter about it. Travelling from the USA, nothing will change, but once you’re into mainland Europe, travel must be more considered.”
Bloodstock’s Vicky Hungerford added: “I’ve had one or two bands concerned about the strength of the pound but we don’t know enough yet.”
Paul Ryan, United Talent Agency booking agent, said: “Emerging artists rely on goodwill and they don’t have the resources or finances to necessarily put the time in to get out there. But big artists will be fine. For anyone who works in Europe, the practicality is that it’s easier to remain within it.”
He later added: “Tours have always happened, there’ll be a transitionary period, but countries do want artists to come and tour. It’s not just freedom of movement for people, it’s freedom of movement for goods. So when people are talking about setting up new companies in Europe, then that seems to be the way it will go.”
CAA’s Emma Banks, meanwhile, said that while there is uncertainty, it seems hard to imagine there’ll be no impact on touring: “Let’s hope we can keep the trucks rolling as no one can afford to re-route a tour that has five days of downtime in-between. So maybe artists will have to take more careful decisions [on their routes].
“But I hope the government and civil service get this sorted. Whether three trucks of PAs will matter more than the medical stuff we are importing and exporting all the time is another factor.”
Making a wider political point, Banks criticised the lack of direct expertise in government: “MPs are self serving, and we could do with MPs that have worked in the real world. At the moment, in the Department for Media, Sports and Culture you have senior people who have never even worked in those sectors, then the next minute they’re suddenly Foreign Secretary. I find it tricky.”