Radiohead warn Brexit ‘must not destroy’ music industry

Ellie HarrisonMon, 8 February 2021, 8:58 am

Jonny Greenwood (Rex Features)
Jonny Greenwood (Rex Features)

Radiohead’s bassist Colin Greenwood has written about the potential impact of Brexit on the music industry.

Urging politicians not to let the UK’s departure from the EU “destroy” the industry and the ability of bands to tour Europe, he wrote in The Guardian: “Like Hamburg to the Beatles, Europe was crucial to our growth as a band. It allowed us to see ourselves untethered from our UK roots and to imagine a life in music that could reach audiences everywhere.”

Greenwood, who formed Radiohead in 1985 with his brother Jonny and schoolmates Thom Yorke, Ed O’Brien and Philip Selway, added that he has been told that playing in Europe will be “more clunky and expensive” thanks to the need for carnets (lists of goods entering and leaving the country).

“A £10,000 guitar would need a carnet that would cost about £650 plus VAT,” he wrote. “The costs of travel and accommodation are already high, and the extra paperwork and expenses would rise quickly for a touring orchestra.”

He said that while he is “lucky enough to afford” extra costs, he worries about “the solo cellist who is going to play in Berlin for a couple of hundred euros, and sees her carnet will cost more than the fee”.

Read more – Thom Yorke leads condemnation of ‘spineless’ decision to ‘reject’ EU offer to waive touring visas

“Will the promoter in Berlin think twice about the costs and hassle of booking her rather than an artist from the EU?” he asked. “What about a young violinist from Vienna who dreams of studying at one of the prestigious UK music schools, and now feels discouraged to tangle with Brexit’s ‘specialised expertise’? This is a tragedy of deferred dreams.”

Concluding the article, Greenwood said: “It is time for the UK government to admit it didn’t do enough for the creative industries during the Brexit negotiations and look to renegotiate on the provision for touring in Europe.”

He described British music as “the antithesis of the culturally pinched nationalism that is Brexit” and argued that “its diminishment would deprive us all”.

Last month, Greenwood’s bandmate Thom Yorke and other musicians reacted with fury over the news that the UK government “rejected” an offer from the EU to waive touring visas for British musicians.

An exclusive report in The Independent revealed that a “standard” proposal – that would exempt performers from the cost and bureaucracy of visas allowing them to tour EU countries – offered the same exemptions to the UK as enjoyed by countries such as the US and Saudi Arabia.

The Independent understands that this was turned down because the government is insisting on denying that same right to EU artists visiting the UK to perform, in part due to home secretary Priti Patel’s stance on immigration.