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  Within Temptation Live Recordings

  Montreux Festival July 2024

  Beth Gibbons New Solo LP


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  Ani DiFranco New LP

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  Seasick Steve Alive & Kickin’

  Glen Hansard New LP/23-24 Tour

  Joe Bonamassa Live LP & Tour

  Pearl Jam New LP & Tour

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  “My country, right or wrong…”

  Heart Announce Live Tours

  Anais Mitchell HADESTOWN Returns

  The Photographer’s Selection

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  Princess Goes COME OF AGE

  Springsteen 2024 Tour

  Philip ‘Seth’ Campbell Live

  This Troubled World

  Dark Side Of The Moon 50th

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  Great Albums: Fresh New Life

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  Magnum - A Year in Ukraine

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  The Damn Truth Live

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  The State We’re In Pt II

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  A Fly-Free Zone

  Liverpool Jazz Festival

  The Charlatans Live

  UK Democracy Threatened

  Rag’n'Bone Man Live

  Sea Girls Live

  Martha Wainwright Live

  Politics is Failing

  Moby The Very Best Of Interview


  Joe Bonamassa Live!

  Rodrigo Y Gabriela Interview

  Amy Macdonald Rescheduled Gig

  Music & Brexit

  Happy New Year?

  On Barbra Streisand

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  What Have We Done?


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  The Slow Readers Club Live

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  John Lennon Interview

  Ray LaMontagne Live

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Music & Brexit


We pay tax in all the countries we play in Europe. For example in Germany it’s about 19% on the gross fee received from the promoter and unless you are represented by a German based company who can reclaim some costs such as tour buses at around £1400 a day, hotels for any day off at over £1200 a night for the team, and various other production costs which include a contribution to crew wages, the tax is taken from the top. When you pay those taxes you receive a credit note from the respective tax authority and that is provided to HMRC to put against your UK taxes. It’s called a reciprocal tax agreement. I paid over £25k in withholding tax in the EU in 2018 on one tour after allowances for costs because I had a German agent. Up till now I have not had an answer as to whether that still applies. Do we still get that allowance or will only a percentage of it apply if at all? At the moment my tax advisors don’t know. I’m supposed to be on tour in 8 months and don’t even know if it’s actually financially feasible. The contracts were signed in late 2019 and don’t take into consideration any post Brexit financial implications as no one knew what they were until 2 weeks ago.

We will now have to deal with the respective ‘national insurances’ in every country on top of the income tax. That applies to everyone in the band and crew and requires more paperwork and applications. We will now also have to register for VAT in every EU country if we want to sell merchandise on the road and claim back VAT from costs. All taxes have to be paid in full before any merch leaves the UK and declarations could have to be made at every national border. If we are not registered then it’s near impossible to reclaim back the respective national VAT. As an example the German night-liner tour bus on the next alleged tour has around £13,000 VAT we now become liable for. This means more accountancy bills, more middlemen, more bureaucracy.


Like most other artists, I need merchandise sales on tour to supplement my income and allow us to play shows in areas where the promoter’s guarantee from ticket sales falls short of the costs required to perform there. As an independent artist a large amount of my album sales are on the road at the merchandise stall. Streaming changed the ball game and as a result, physical album sales in traditional record stores have collapsed compared to when I started in the music business 40 years ago, so playing live has become the principal source of income for many musicians and bands. This comes through gig fees and direct-to-customer album and merchandise sales.

And I am a recognised artist with a loyal fanbase and playing decent size venues. I’ve managed through trial and error over time to find a model that works. I’m not in a new band making its first forays into Europe taking the big jump and betting on a chance to break into what is still the third biggest music market in the World, just a few miles on a ferry across the Channel. How are they supposed to find visa fees especially if they are an independent outfit? How do they front costs for that valuable merch that could be their only wages on a gig? The wages that pay their rent and the rehearsal rooms and fuel in the tank? How does the next young Iron Maiden, Simple Minds, The Cure or dare I say Marillion break into the EU market now? From where is the UK government going to replace those potential future tax revenues from successful bands? Do they care? It certainly doesn’t appear so, especially for the non-corporate bands.


These are just some of the razor wire hurdles I’ve come across so far since the new Brexit rules were published just a couple of weeks ago. Prior to that I’ve been discussing probabilities with fellow professionals, tour and production managers, accountants, and advisors for well over 18 months trying to discover how this was all going to affect us – but the government left it so late, none of us have been able to prepare. Tours are booked over a year in advance and there is a lot of detailed planning involved. I’m used to that. And still no one seems to be any clearer on what is happening.

Some have accused the live music industry of not facing reality after the Brexit vote was determined by the accumulative vote across the UK. That is most definitely not true. We have been trying to read the runes and the smoke for a very long time and being in an industry that has to continually adjust to outside factors on a sometimes-daily basis while on the road we are accustomed to extraneous demands. Taking a double-barrelled shotgun to our feet was not anywhere in the equation. I’m not an accountant, never wanted to be. I wanted to be a creative artist and performer who could ply my trade and earn a living across borders, and especially in Europe, our closest neighbours and as I said the third biggest music market in the world next to the USA and Japan. It appears that the only sector benefitting from all these new regulations are accountants and advisors, and all those costs will percolate through to album and concert ticket prices.

And all of this during a pandemic that has crippled the music industry and put thousands out of work for an indefinite time.

I always look for silver linings with regards to my own situation and the only thing I can grasp on to is that my own postponed tour gives me preparation time to take on these seemingly constantly changing regulations and find a way forward. Some may say visa/permit costs, tax changes etc are negligible and part of the ‘cost’ of this current mess. For an arena level band, that may be so. It’s mostly an accountancy issue and they will usually have a wider organisation who can focus on paperwork, but for others at my level and below it’s the difference between having a tour and a career in the music business or not.

And now? Where am I?

A 32 date European and Scandinavian tour looming in September with rehearsals necessary in August; an increasingly raging virus, nationwide vaccinations still a long way off, no insurance for anything Covid related, promoters suggesting renegotiations of contracts for potential social distancing (impossible and refused), vastly increased merchandise commission of around 20% of the gross sales (plus VAT) expected as venues and corporate entities involved try to recover losses and all of the above previously mentioned. Is it going to happen? I wouldn’t buy tickets and incur fees that are non-returnable until I knew for certain the tour was happening. I certainly can’t hold up my hand and say I will be on tour in September or at any point this year.



And now, take another step back on this and look from the other side. I am on tour, potentially unvaccinated. Our tour merchandiser faces the public every night. She contracts the virus and we have maybe 10 days before she shows symptoms, and we are all together on a bus every day. Meanwhile in 10 days we could be in 7 cities intermingling with house crews, journalists, promoters, members of the general public etc. One band, one bus - one potential travelling super-spreading Covid generator. The tour is scheduled to start in just over 8 months, and we are still in lockdown here for perhaps another month and beyond. We should be looking at applying for visas/ permits by the beginning of summer latest to ensure we are regulatory compliable? And that means I will need to pay out £15k for work permits/visas we might not even need and in my opinion shouldn’t even be required in the first place?

The ‘bandwagon’ was already stalled by the pandemic and now bureaucracy has slashed the tyres and thrown sand in the engine while laying a minefield on the road with no maps to trust.

All the info I’ve related comes from current valid and credible sources. It’s not ‘fake news’ or ‘Remainer bullshit’. This is what I have discovered so far and what is being revealed on a day-to-day basis - on government and official websites which are constantly updated - still remains vague and doesn’t address specific questions we genuinely need answers to. It’s all real and at the moment it’s all that we know now.


I genuinely despair at the current state of the music industry and the dreams that are being broken on these rocks. I’m 63 this year and immensely grateful for what the music industry and the fans of my music have given me over the last 40 years. I just can’t imagine what it’s like for a young artist in these present times. I planned to retire from live music in 2023 and have just lost 2 years on a road I seriously don’t know if I will ever revisit. We, the music business, and industry of the UK are currently in a perilous state. After all we have given to the world over the last 50 years and more; the revenue and cultural recognition that has been provided to this country through the musicians and technicians and every ancillary member of the live music communities with their writing, creations, and performances. We deserve better than this from our elected government.

We need a rethink, and we need it sooner rather than later as our future is in jeopardy



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