Visa free touring for musicians: Political gesture or saviour to music industry?

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The music industry isn't always taken seriously, but could you imagine a life without it? - Credit: Getty Images

Back in February, I wrote about what Brexit will mean for the music industry. 

In the article, I talked about Brexit negotiations, or lack of, and the devastating impacts that the rejection of visa-free touring would have on independent musicians.

The costs and bureaucracy of touring post Brexit means that it will become economically impossible to tour around Europe for some, with the change making it impractical for all but the most established and financially robust artists. 

Last week, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced that a number of European countries were to permit short tours for musicians, visa and work permit free. 

In the statement, it says that musicians would not need visas or work permits for short-term tours in 19 EU member state countries, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden. 

In the remaining eight countries that do not allow permit or visa-free touring, the DCMS have said that the Government are engaging with them to establish similar rules. 

At first glance, this really does look like a glimmer of hope for independent musicians across the UK. 

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After months of campaigning from huge music biz names such as Elton John and Ed Sheeran and the smaller music community alike, is this a major breakthrough? 

Short answer is: No. 

Interpreted to some as a saviour to a generation of talent, dig a little deeper into the statement and it seems like the announcement isn’t new news at all. 

In fact, we knew about these regulations' way back in January.

The Government have simply restated arrangements that already existed, rehashed what we already know and have only clarified pre-existing arrangements. 

The Government haven’t done anything extraordinary for the music industry.

We are still a long, long way from visa-free travel in the EU, something which the UK government simply cannot afford to ignore, given its contribution to the UK economy.