Features July 4, 2016

How Brexit will affect the Australian music industry

Former Editor
How Brexit will affect the Australian music industry

Image: Glastonbury Festival 2016

The unexpected vote for a British exit (‘Brexit’) from the European Union is said to have serious implications for the music industry. 

When the UK no longer falls under the blanket set of rules handed down by the EU’s governing body, its rights holders will be forced to navigate two sets of law structures. Crucially though, it could affect artists’ visas, their tour budgets and taxes as currencies fluctuate, the cost of manufacturing physical music, and digital copyright licensing and protection. 

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) had hoped the UK would remain in the European Union. In a post-vote statement it said: “The decision of the UK to leave the EU creates a great deal of uncertainty which could last for a considerable time.”

The BPI, which represents the British music industry, has already released a statement promising to press the UK government to negotiate trade deals to give artists access to EU markets. “We are confident that British music will remain hugely popular across Europe and we will work hard to make sure UK labels are able to capitalise on that demand,” said the BPI.

TMN reached out to members of the Australian music industry to find out their thoughts on the implications of Brexit locally.


Michael Chugg
Chugg Entertainment

It’s really too early to say. It could be harder to get work permits for touring bands, although I read somewhere that Australia, NZ & Canada may not need Visas anymore. Lots of questions are still in the air. 

The big positive at the moment is that the Australian dollar has gone up to around 54/55 cents against the Pound and has also gone up against the Euro. 

Let’s see what our election does to all this too. 


Brett Cottle
Chief Executive, APRA AMCOS

The European Commission has had an enormous impact on collective copyright administration within the EU – directly affecting how writers and publishers affiliate with collecting societies, how the societies operate and how (particularly digital) rights must be licensed across the EU.   

The UK – through PRS and MCPS – plays a central role in the resulting administrative arrangement. It is a huge repertoire contributor and a major service provider within the European context. Whether, and if so how, the current cross-border single-market arrangements continue in place or undergo a level of dismantling will be a major issue for copyright owners in the months ahead.


Millie Millgate
Executive Producer, Sounds Australia

Right now I believe it is too early to call or know exactly what direct effects Brexit will have on the export of Australian music. I know that many of our international colleagues are still in shock and genuinely hurting by the outcome of the referendum and with them we stand in solidarity. With such a marginal outcome for the leave vote, a divide has been created and economic, political and social unrest for the UK seems almost inevitable. 

Today’s music industry is global, no longer do we release or tour in territory silos, so the effects of such a monumental change will  undoubtedly impact on all nations doing business with both the UK and EU countries – especially with respect to the live arena. It’s definitely a possibility that touring in the EU will become harder and more expensive for British acts as a result of the exit, with increased travel restrictions such as the need to secure visas for each European territory, the potential re-introduction of a carnet checked at every border and a weaker exchange rate, impacting on overall touring costs. 

It is fair to hypothesise then, that these restrictions on British artists could open up and increase the opportunities for Australian acts as a result of the potential decrease in competition vying for coveted festival slots, tour supports and venue plays in Europe, although all this is pending on the type of deals the UK government negotiates with the EU in the coming months. 

SOUNDS AUSTRALIA’s multiple partnerships with UK based events and trade organisations will remain unaffected and our investment in the market will continue. 

Tim Daley
Group Program Manager at Country Music Channel, Foxtel

I don’t see any direct impact on the Australian industry at the moment, particularly in the country (music) world. But as time passes, and the exit is negotiated with the EU, there may be some indirect impact in relation to exchange rates, label and industry global strategy and travel.

Colin Daniels

CEO, Inertia

While this could have a devastating effect, it is too soon to know exactly how this will affect the promotion and touring of Australian music through Europe but given the uncertain terrain ahead, our most important task right now is to secure a funding solution for Sounds Australia.


Luke Girgis
Director, Be Like Children

Most predictions on how Brexit will affect the Australian music industry are extremely speculative. Even the financial markets are seesawing right now with experts anxious and uncertain. So, to say Brexit will affect the Australian Music industry specifically one way or another at this stage is a little silly, we don’t even know the terms of the exit yet. And who knows, there’s still a chance it might not go ahead – so all we can do it wait, and when the changes come – good or bad, we adapt our export strategy.


Joel Edmonson
Deputy Chair, AMIN 

Economic uncertainty and its impacts on the exchange rate will probably be the most direct impact, which would actually be a positive for Australian artists, given the weakening of the Sterling. However, destabilised consumer confidence in Britain may also negatively impact on the feasibility of touring there.

The more indirect impacts will be more long term and subtle. Globalisation has many flaws but it has most definitely increased the exchange and hybridity of ideas between people of different nations. The current trend towards nationalism in the UK and US are worrying because the closure of borders is not just physical, it’s also psychological. Cultural diplomacy is a powerful tool in breaking down barriers between people, and the active shutting-down of the free movement of artists within the EU will have flow-on implications for Australian musicians that want to reach out to the world.


Marianna Annas
Manager, ABC Music Publishing

We can only speculate for now. In terms of investing in songwriters and music publishing generally, we have weathered far bigger challenges. The changes it will pose to direct licensing procurement and administration are not insurmountable. For collecting societies however, collective copyright administration within the EU has become an important part of our business especially in relation to digital rights licensing, as well as being reflective of the way forward. There are obvious impacts on live touring such as the logistical and administrative disruption which could have broader reverberations. Earlier this week Bob Lefsetz said it was like returning to vinyl but without the nostalgia. The music industry has and continues to adapt to rapid change like no other. It’s managed to do so while keeping a place for one of its cultural tenets.


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