Live events in the UK are taking one hit after another | UK Government refuses to publish ERP results | The Foo Fighters have still got it

Live events in the UK are taking one hit after another

Brexit has caused a new roadblock in the events industry, as musicians and bands who once toured the EU freely will now be required to have a visa or work permit in hand. Concerns about the government’s inability to reach an agreement regarding this particular barrier have been raised several times since the breakup became official. A new campaign, #LetTheMusicMove, has attracted recent attention in the UK music industry with more than 200 artists urging the Government to take action and support visa-free touring opportunities.

Visa issued by the Embassy of Spain

When full-scale touring revives, up and coming talent will face huge challenges as they will likely be unable to afford the costs of the additional visas or permits. The UK music scene plays a huge part in the industry as a whole, providing thousands of jobs and touring opportunities for artists. In 2019, UK artists played four times as many shows across the EU than in North America and provided around 33,000 jobs at these gigs.

The limitations that touring bands and artists will face include:

  • UK touring vehicles will be limited to only three stops in Europe before having to return home.
  • UK musicians will require an onerous goods passport (a “carnet”) in order to tour Europe, including a bond for their instruments and equipment.
  • Those planning to perform in Spain, the UK’s second biggest touring market, face an unprecedented burden of work permits, paperwork and travel costs making many shows and festival performances unviable.

The industry is calling on Boris Johnson to make some amendments that will give them a little more freedom while touring, or it could be a huge blow to the market and artists in general.

ERP data leak raises some questions

It comes as no surprise that the financial impact of the continued delay of Step 4 of the UK’s reopening roadmap will be detrimental to the live events industry. Also unsurprising is that the information leaked from an internal Events Research Programme report confirms the severity of this problem. What is surprising is the UK Government’s refusal to publish the results of the pilots which has the industry struggling to understand the reasoning behind its continued closure. There’s no question that the safety of the public is of the utmost importance but without concrete evidence that large events are a risk, any continued measures are devastating for the economy.

reports with charts and graphs

Preliminary results from the ERP suggested that large-scale events did not pose a significant threat of COVID transmissions when appropriate precautions were taken, such as pre-show testing requirements. Many fans are willing to submit to this requirement if it means returning to a somewhat normal live experience. However, a continued mask requirement, which is the lowest level of “intervention” showcased in this leaked data, would result in an 18% decline in revenue from 2019.

The Foo Fighters have still got it

On June 20, the Foo Fighters rocked Madison Square Garden to kick off a summer of live events. It was New York’s first full capacity concert since March 2020 meaning nearly 20,000 people attended the concert in the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena’. No masks or social distancing were required, but only attendees who were fully vaccinated (and had proof) were able to attend. Some venue workers wore masks but other than that, things seemed to be running normally once inside the venue, complete with long lines for merch, concessions and bathrooms. Additional measures that have become all too normal like cashless payments and sanitizing stations were implemented as well.

Madison Square Garden marquee

All eyes were on Sunday’s show, as it was a milestone in the return of live events. Live Nation claims it will continue to host similar events as well as future shows that will allow a mix of vaccinated/non vaccinated audiences. For nearly 3 hours, the band rocked their hearts out (with an appearance by Dave Chappelle) to a roaring crowd of fans who have long awaited the day they could get their hands on a concert ticket again.