“Breaking” Since the days of Beatlemania, new British artists have set their sights on America, but that ideal is slowly fading away. Music business executives have criticised officials for not taking action to prevent a proposed 250% increase in immigration costs, which could impact hundreds of up-and-coming musicians.
U.S. immigration authorities are proposing a number of changes, including a hike in the cost of a visitor visa from $460 (£385) to $1,615 (£1,352), which musicians and their agents say would make it nearly difficult for anyone but the largest names to perform in the United States.
According to the Music Managers Forum (MMF) and the Featured Artists Coalition, the cost of traveling has increased by 40%, adding insult to injury for artists already dealing with Brexit red tape and the effect of the epidemic lockdowns (Fac).
Let the Music Move (#LetTheMusicMove), a campaign originally started in 2021 by the MMF and Fac to combat the effects of post-Brexit trade agreements, which are still hindering artists, has been revived. Companies transporting musical instruments by truck have been required to register as EU businesses, and their crews are restricted from spending more than 90 days in the EU per 180. During the epidemic, many companies abandoned the sector.
According to a poll conducted by MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick last week, 84% of her members have bands preparing to travel to the United States. Seventy percent said they couldn’t do it if the fees were raised, and twenty percent said they’d put it off.
It’s already exceedingly difficult to go to the US, and this is going to greatly impact the talent pool, who have already had a dreadful time over the last three years,” said David Martin, Fac chief executive. This is yet another blow to our capacity to develop promising young and mid-career professionals.
Martin claims that due to rising rivalry between South American music and K-pop, the UK’s portion of the worldwide recorded music market has dropped from 17% in 2015 to just 10%. After Brexit, the government allocated £23 million to the fishery industry, but the recording business is 12 to 13 times larger in the UK.
Coldrick expressed her displeasure at the lack of intervention from a minister or ambassador, saying, “The initial response was a bit: ‘Oh, it’s America, isn’t it, we have no impact. It’s been that way with them forever.
After Labour MP Kevin Brennan asked in a legislative query if ministers would urge their peers to rethink, Culture Minister Julia Lopez said last week that the government “cannot meddle in another country’s procedures and must honour their methods.”
To gain exposure and a follower base in the two largest marketplaces for British music, many up-and-coming artists incur financial losses by touring the United States and Europe.
“People hear musicians on Radio 6 Music or Radio 1 and assume they are renowned and doing OK,” said Michael Lambert, whose management company handles bands including Fatherson and Idlewild. They may even be losing money on their tours, as the author notes.
Next month, thirteen different Scottish performers, ranging from bagpipers and traditional singers to the Mercury Prize–nominated jazz guitarist Fergus McCreadie, will perform at South by Southwest (SXSW), an event in Austin, Texas. Lambert is the formal head of the Scottish delegation. However, he worries about the consequences for future creatives.
Post-punk Londoners Warmduscher, who have put out four records, have also been asked to perform at SXSW. It would be their first show in the States, but they need to collect £6,000 for expenses like flights, permits, and hotels before they can make the trip.
After telling supporters, “To get immersed into the country of stars and stripes has been our goal since we began this insane journey,” they finally made it. Since this is a promotional trip, the prices we’re charging aren’t covering our costs.
You can build a career in the UK, but really you need to travel Europe and America,” Primal Scream bassist Simone Marie Butler once said. In the beginning, the odds are lower for ensembles that can’t perform live.
According to Nick Cave and PJ Harvey’s manager Brian Message: “All those youthful bands went out and played America when expenses were nothing like this and to my view, American culture has profited enormously – the hundreds of thousands of people who adored those bands coming over and performing.”
A representative from the government stated, “We are conscious of the problems surrounding UK musicians visiting the US and will address the sector’s worries with the appropriate authorities.”