Eurovision reminds us why EU membership is so important to our proud music industry

This year's 'Eurovision: You Decide'. Photograph: BBC.

This year's 'Eurovision: You Decide'. Photograph: BBC. - Credit: Archant

In an exclusive opinion piece for The New European, the Liberal Democrats' Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake MP argues how our music industry will suffer as a result of leaving the EU.

This weekend is the final of Eurovision. The show is generally seen as a bit of a laugh by many but, as we go to the polls on Thursday for the EU elections, this year it serves as a pertinent reminder of why our place in Europe is so important.

The music industry relies heavily on the free movement of national and international talent.

The industry has been incredibly vocal about the dangers Brexit poses to them.

Artists including Ed Sheeran, Sting, and Jarvis Cocker all signed Bob Geldof's letter to Theresa May last autumn, warning Brexit will "impact every aspect of the music industry. From touring to sales, to copyright legislation to royalty collation".

READ: The most controversial Eurovision Song Contest ever heldMusicians hoping to go on tour are facing particularly daunting obstacles.

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At the moment, touring within the EU is relatively cheap, but a visa application for a music organisation costs between £600 to £1,000. This is a new expense that would leave many unable to afford to tour as they do currently, whilst the UK is a member of the EU.

Many in the music industry work across international teams and rely heavily on freedom of movement.

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An ISM survey showed that over a third of musicians received 50% or more of their income from working in the EU.

Both the Tories and Labour are playing political football with people's livelihoods. As they wasted time with their farcical Brexit talks, it became clear the Tories have lost the right to call themselves the party of business, while Labour's 'jobs first Brexit' has been proven to be nothing more than an empty slogan.

READ: Cross-party Brexit talks have broken downThe Brexiters pedalling a no-deal option are no better.

Creative industries services are not fully covered by World Trade Organisation (WTO) deals.

The idea that we can crash out to WTO rules and everything will be alright on the night is dishonest and demonstrates a blatant disregard for all those who would suffer thanks to Farage's fantasy WTO economics.

It's not just musicians who will bear the brunt of Brexit. Music venues across the UK have benefited from EU funding and grants.

The EU currently has a budget of over £1 billion dedicated to supporting creative arts and industries, which has helped support venues from London to Liverpool.

As this funding dries up, it is up to the architects of Brexit in government not to leave music venues in the lurch.

Tragically the Tories have the worst form when it comes to protecting creative hubs, as under this government, music venues, clubs and theatres have had to shut down the music, turn off the lights and close their doors.

READ: BBC bans European flags at Eurovision event - offers Union flags insteadThe £30 million the Conservative government has provided to the Department for Culture Media and Sport is shrapnel compared to what the EU could offer, and it paints a dark future for British talent trying to make a breakthrough in Europe.

There is a way to avoid this catastrophic mess. There is a party that listens to the concerns of musicians, consumers and creators.

We know how much you cherish being connected to Europe, and we understand how important it is to be able to tour freely, remove financial barriers and receive creative support.

In order to protect this multi-billion pound industry, we reject the Tory government's Brexit stitch-up and will never countenance crashing out of the EU without a deal.

Liberal Democrats are clear: any form of Brexit is damaging to our industries and the music industry is no exception.

Eurovision is as a timely reminder of that. We are better off in the EU. That is why every vote for the Liberal Democrats in the European elections on Thursday May 23 is a vote to stop Brexit.

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