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76% of UK musicians say it’s likely Brexit will stop them performing in Europe [Survey]

  • 76% musicians said it was likely Brexit travel restrictions will stop them performing in Europe
  • 40% musicians have already cancelled gigs specifically because of Brexit
  • 91% said Brexit will have a negative impact on their livelihood as a musician
  • Classical musicians are the most likely to lose out on income
  • Music booking platform Encore Musicians surveys 452 musicians

A survey conducted by Encore Musicians (an online booking platform), has laid bare the crisis facing UK musicians as a result of Brexit. 

Three-quarters of respondents said they thought it was likely Brexit travel restrictions would stop them performing in Europe in future, cutting off a vital source of income. Musicians who performed in Europe earned an average total of £4,673 (based on 2019) – a figure they stand to lose if European travel is made too difficult. 

Confidence in the government’s response was low. The overwhelming majority (90%) said they were not confident that the government will negotiate a post-Brexit travel deal that works well for musicians. Likewise, 89% of musicians disagreed with Oliver Dowden’s statement “it was the EU letting down music on both sides of the Channel – not us”.

And more generally, 91% said Brexit will have a negative impact on their livelihood as a musician and 40% said they already had to cancel gigs specifically because of Brexit. 

The results show there is a clear consensus among musicians that Brexit will damage their livelihoods. Recurring concerns from respondents were shrinking opportunities and income, increased costs of cabotage and customs, and the risk that European markets will favour EU musicians over UK musicians to avoid paperwork. 

The UK music industry contributes £5.2 billion annually to the UK economy and employs nearly 200,000 people [Source], so a failure to negotiate a successful post-Brexit travel plan for musicians could have significant knock-on effects on the UK as a whole. 

On the results, Encore CEO James McAulay says:

“Musicians across the UK are already struggling to survive and adapt to the pandemic, and now the government’s handling of Brexit could deliver another blow to their earnings. The government’s poor record so far negotiating paper-free travel for musicians in Europe adds yet another stress to our already stretched music industry. 

I’m not at all surprised to see so many respondents feeling negative about Brexit and the government’s response to negotiations. However, after seeing the results of our survey, I’m now even more concerned about the havoc that Brexit is unleashing on musicians who previously would have supplemented their income with performances in Europe.

Last week I signed a letter published in the Times along with other industry leaders and high-profile artists, including Elton John and Ed Sheeran. Today, I’d like to reiterate the demands of that letter: the government must now negotiate paper-work free travel in Europe for British artists – or risk permanent damage to our cultural sector.” 




Which musicians are most likely to lose out?

The earning figures below apply to musicians who reported earnings from performances in Europe in 2019. 

Older musicians likely to lose most

  • Those aged over 55 earned the most, averaging a total of £5,419 each from performances on the continent. 
  • Conversely, those in the youngest age bracket, 18-24 earned on average £1,114 from during the same year. 
  • Overall, increased age correlated with increased earnings suggesting that older musicians are more at risk from travel restrictions.   

Classical musicians at risk

  • With an average total of £5,713, classical musicians who performed in Europe in 2019 earned the most of any genre. This could be attributed to classical musicians 
  • Jazz musicians earned the least on average, taking home on average £3,402 from European gigs that year. 



The opinions below were taken from all survey respondents, regardless of whether they had performed in Europe in 2019 or not.

Low government confidence

Brexit pessimism 

Musicians were pessimistic about the overall impact Brexit will have on the UK music industry:

  • 91% said Brexit will have a negative impact on their livelihood as a musician 
  • 88% musicians said they thought Brexit would decrease the value of the UK music industry
  • 19% said they thought it was unlikely they would still be a professional musician in 12 months time 




“I’m Irish and leaving the UK because of Brexit to live in Germany as soon as the travel restrictions ease.”

Gráinne Gillis, opera singer



“We have had to cancel a proposed tour in France, Holland and Germany because of cabotage and the bureaucratic costs of arranging customs clearance and appropriate visas. Our engagement calendar is now completely blank because of the Covid restrictions and the future is looking grim. We are considering selling our tour bus and giving up.”

Anonymous, jazz musician


About Encore: Encore Musicians is a marketplace platform with over 42,000 registered live musicians in the UK. So far, Encore has helped artists earn over £5 million and provided live music for over 10,000 events ranging from weddings and birthday parties to corporate parties and festivals. 


Assets: high resolution images, data sets, infographics, and graphs available on request. 


Jonny Venvell

Jonny is Encore's Head of Artist Relations.

He's responsible for supporting and helping musicians on the platform and writes most of the musician-facing articles on the blog. He can usually be found singing in choirs, drumming in bands, or nodding meaningfully to particularly good chords in London's jazz bars.

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