23 June 2016

Musicians and the European Union - what you need to know

Today the UK has until 10pm to vote on whether they wish to remain in or leave the European Union.

For musicians in the country, it's important to understand what the European Union does to help the work of touring artists, artist rights and other issues.

Open borders in Europe means that it is easy and cost effective to tour away from the UK and around the mainland of Europe. With large music scenes present just across the water in countries like France, Belgium and Germany, many musicians find their fan base and success through touring abroad.

Being a member of the European Union means that companies such as the Musician's Union have the working contacts needed to negotiate issues easily and effectively. Such issues include the rights of musicians while abroad, regarding insurance, health and travel. For instance one current issue under the process of being resolved is that of air travel and taking instruments as hand luggage aboard European flights.

European Copyright Directives mean that intellectual property rights and income are protected, and the Working Time Directive (which wouldn't exist without thanks to the EU) means that part time self employed music teachers can receive sick pay.

On the reverse side, independence from the EU means it may also be more difficult for musicians from other European countries to travel to the UK for concerts and events.

The European Union is far from perfect, it's not all sunshine and rainbows, and more needs to be done to improve the wellbeing of working musicians in the UK and Europe. In the UK especially, the arts are being regarded as less and less important under the current government, with action being take in schools to eliminate 'unnecessary' arts subjects. With funding being taken away it is difficult for schools to hire music teachers and so work isn't always easy to come by.

For a musician, it's always a good idea to keep options open and so it may be in their best interest to remain a part of the EU.

Until it happens, we cannot know whether these same rights will be protected should the UK become an independent country. And even if they are, we cannot know to what effect.

We shall see when the time comes.

Let us know your views!

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