To the surprise of many, the United Kingdom’s population voted to approve a referendum to leave the European Union late last night. (Maybe we all shouldn’t be so sure about the impossibility of a Trump presidency, hm?) The vote was tight, with just 51.9% voting to depart, but the impact was almost instantaneous. Prime Minister David Cameron announced his plans to resign, the British pound dropped to a 30 year low against the US dollar, and stock markets across Europe and the US took a plunge.
It’s already clear that this move has overarching implications beyond just UK and the EU, and businesses in all sectors are nervously waiting to see how it all pans out for them. After all, the UK will no longer fall under the blanket set of rules laid out by the EU’s governing body, meaning everyone will now have to navigate two sets of regulations. For the music and film industries, there very well could be some nasty consequences that entertainers and fans will have to deal with. Here are a few ways the Brexit could impact music and film:
— For a working musician, the ability to enter and exit any EU country on just one working visa makes touring relatively easy. But now that the UK is out, it’s possible that British acts will need to acquire separate working visas for each country. It most certainly will work in the reverse, with musicians coming from EU countries needing a UK-specific visa. The extra hassle and costs could limit the mobility of smaller bands.
— Even the cost of flying in and out of the UK could get more expensive, with added restrictions due to tightening border controls.
— As currencies fluctuate in the wake of Brexit, budgets could take huge hits. If a tour’s cost has been calculated in pounds, that price could suddenly seem far steeper as the sterling value drops.
— Many pressing plants for CDs and vinyl are based around Europe. New tariffs and trade policies could increase the cost of making and purchasing physical music.
— The EU has a funding body for all film, TV, and digital media creators known as the Media Program. It’s likely that the UK will no longer be able to receive this money, meaning everything from distribution to financing of British visual entertainment will suddenly be hampered.
— Like with touring musicians, not all British films are filmed in Britain. There are going to be visa and travel costs hitting actors, executives, and pretty much all employees on a film if they aren’t hired from within the EU. Even then, there will likely be contracting issues.
— Though it’ll likely become cheaper for foreign-based productions to film their movies in Britain, it’ll actually become more expensive for British distributors to acquire those films. Either way, foreign productions won’t get the benefit of the
— The UK will have no voice in the upcoming European Commission’s review of its copyright regulations as it takes strides for a Digital Single Market, meaning one set of rules for the entire union. This could seriously impact the way UK-made content gets to and is treated throughout Europe. Licensing, safe harbor provisions, and other copyright reforms being discussed amongst the EC could greatly affect digital content coming from Britain. Because of Brexit, the UK likely won’t have as much — if any — say in how the new regulations get written.
— Trade agreements used to be collectively negotiated in the European Union, but now companies will be burdened with an extra layer of red tape to cut through. New deals will have to be worked out with countries like the US, where industry trade is of paramount importance.
— Though relatively unlikely, there’s a chance that fewer movies, shows, and songs will be played by EU broadcasters. There are quotas in place for how much European Union-created content is aired, and with UK now not a part of that calculation, there could be a hit to exposure.
— We could see the return of carnets, permits listing each and every piece of equipment for a music tour or film shoot. That could be incredibly time and cost consuming, especially on smaller tours or productions. Filing for such a permit is costly, and they typically only last 12 months.
The worst of it is: We just don’t know. It’s going to take at least two years before the United Kingdom completes its exit from the European Union, and until that time, they’re not allowed to make new trade agreements. Once that ball finally gets rolling, it’s going to take many more years before everything is nailed down. It’s that protracted period of uncertainty that could most greatly — and most negatively — impact entertainment in the near future.
But that’s not to say this is all necessarily bad news. After all, less than 24 hours after the vote ended, we can’t say with certainty how all the chips will fall. Perhaps the new taxes, regulations, and agreements created by the newly emancipated United Kingdom will actually be more beneficial than those in the European Union. For sure, the UK’s entertainment trade with countries like the United States, Japan, and even Australia has always been strong. Hopefully it can remain that way in this new political era, but for now, it’s an anxious waiting game.