Booking of UK acts at European music festivals falls by 45 per cent

The number of UK acts being booked at festivals in the EU has fallen by 45%, figures released today have shown.

Lollapalooza Festival

That’s according to data revealed by the group Best for Britain, whose “mission is to keep the U.K. strongly connected to our nearest neighbours”, and who compared the number of UK acts scheduled to play in Europe this summer with the 2017-19, pre-Brexit festival season.  

For instance, at Benicàssim festival last week, which takes place near Valencia, just 14 UK acts performed, compared to 24 who played there between 2017 and 2019. 

Likewise, at Lollapalooza in Berlin, only four are scheduled to play, compared to the 11 that performed at the festival 2017 and 2019.

Lollapalooza Festival

Best for Britain warned this was evidence of the impacts of a “dud Brexit deal” on the UK music industry, much of which is still recovering from the pandemic.  

The campaign group’s chief executive, Naomi Smith, said: “The Beatles famously made their name in Europe and it’s on tour that many musicians gain the formative experiences and audiences they need to take off.  

“Our government has not only robbed emerging British talent of these opportunities abroad, but has also made international acts think twice before including Glasgow or London in their European tours.” 

Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, further added: “Previous witnesses to our commission have described how, if you’re a festival organiser in Barcelona who needs to fill a last-minute slot, British bands will be at the bottom of your list due to new barriers created by this botched Brexit deal.  

“Whoever ends up replacing Boris Johnson must commit to removing this needless bureaucracy which is stifling the prosperity and creativity of the next generation of British musicians.” 

This research arrives after a report released this week from a group of more than 100 cross-party MPs called for a “touring tsar” to help acts deal with post-Brext touring issues. The Let the Music Move report explains how “UK music workers are facing more costs, more complications and getting fewer opportunities after leaving the EU.”

Yard Act

Yard Act were ranked the most-booked new act across European festivals this summer.

Consequently, it recommends implementing a new “touring tsar to steer the government’s response to the crisis”. 

As reported by The Independent, the UK government reportedly rejected a “mobility” agreement, making it harder for artists to tour in the EU, and that talks to renegotiate any such deal haven’t begun.  

Whilst figures released yesterday indicate a strong financial picture for UK music as an export, with with its value overseas having grown by almost 14% last year, amounting to around £590.8 million, the story for live shows is evidently different.  

UK acts like Yard Act, who last month were ranked as the most-booked new act across European festivals this summer, will be hoping that changes soon. We likely await a new change in government until it does anytime soon. And even then, it’s not guaranteed. 

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