23rd June 2016 is a momentous day in the history of the UK. Not only is it the birthday of Scottish rocker KT Tunstall (happy birthday, KT – the card’s in the post!) but it’s also the date of the EU referendum when citizens of the United Kingdom decide whether to remain as a member of the European Union or leave.
A recent poll on the EU referendum shows that under 35s are more likely to vote to remain, but are actually less likely to cast their vote. In contrast, over 55s are considerably more likely to vote on 23rd June and more of them are in favour of leaving. The final result – remain or stay – could well be decided by young people, but this can only happen if they’re registered to vote.
Register by 7th June
Liverpool Acoustic, along with many other organisations, support the campaign to encourage everyone to register to vote. If you are over 18 and not currently registered then you have until 7th June to do so. If you don’t register then you won’t have a say on the most important issue we’ve faced in a generation.
Once registered you’ll be able to vote in person on the day at a polling station, vote with a postal vote (useful if you’ll be at Glastonbury at the time!), or give permission for someone else to vote on your behalf using a proxy vote.
What would Liverpool Acoustic do?
Liverpool Acoustic exists to support the music scene in our wonderful city and the surrounding area, and we’re not in the business of telling people how to vote. However, we have been looking at the relative merits and hazards that remaining and leaving would have on musicians and the wider music-supporting community and would like to share with you the conclusions the FAC (Featured Artists Coalition) came to.
The FAC, the EU and music
After polling its 5,000 members the FAC, which represents musicians and recording artists in the UK, is backing the REMAIN campaign. Artists, including Fran Healy, Katie Melua, Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Ed O’Brien (Radiohead), Sandie Shaw, Imogen Heap and more, believe that the music industry in the UK is better off remaining as part of the European Union.
Paul Pacifico, CEO of the FAC comments:
“The FAC has considered the various sides of the argument but feels strongly that overall, it is far better for Artists – our members and non-members – that Britain remains part of the European Union. We polled our membership and 85% voted in favour of remaining within the European Union.”
The FAC believes there are both rational and emotional arguments that matter in the debate between REMAIN and BREXIT:
1. Stability for Visas and the ability to travel and work freely in any of the 28 Member States of the European Union
Anyone who has tried to get a US Visa recently will know of the difficulties and expense involved in travelling and working outside of the EU. Whilst there may be deals done over time to allow British artists to tour on a Visa Waiver scheme within Europe, this could take years to lock down and the uncertainty will without doubt harm and create hurdles for British Artists trying to play at venues and festivals across Europe in the meantime.
2. Unrestricted Access to the Digital Single Market
The European Union is currently working on copyright reform for the streaming economy and is in the process of unveiling its strategy for a European Digital Single Market. For artists, it would be the biggest single market for music in the world. Remaining within the EU gives British Artists unrestricted access to that market.
Historically, Britain has always punched above its weight in terms of exporting our music abroad. We believe the best platform to continue this success is as part of the European Digital Single Market.
3. Laws to Protect Artists
The European Parliament and the European Commission have both shown strong support for specific provisions within the new EU Copyright Framework to protect both Performers and Authors. France and Germany have always had copyright laws that were far more protective of individual Artists than we have here in the UK. Whilst those codes could of course benefit from being updated to fit the new digital era, there is no doubt that a copyright framework set in Europe would consider the working reality of the thousands of grass roots and emerging Artists, balancing the French and German systems with our British approach to create a blend that fosters entrepreneurship whilst still protecting and supporting creativity.
The commercial and professional arguments for Artists to be in favour of remaining within the European Union are strong and compelling. Our ecosystem is extremely fragile and the uncertain future of British Artists outside of the EU will be all the more so.
Aside from the commercial considerations, there are other emotional reasons the FAC would like to support Britain remaining within the EU. There is immense strength and harmony we have as a community.
Music is a universal language and connector and will always be a force that breaks down barriers between colour, race, gender and creed.
Thanks to the European Union, Artists across the world, have been able to communicate, collaborate and co-operate in ways that were difficult previously. Music has transformed lives politically and spiritually throughout the ages whether it’s part of a mass call to action e.g Live Aid or helping an individual get through their darkest hours. Music is a force for global good. We must protect it and any obstacles that get in the way of the free movement of music and collaboration will only do damage.
“In a world which feels ever more fragmented and driven by fear, music plays a key role. The family of European nations was founded as a way to avoid conflict and promote peace post the Second World War. As the FAC let us stand proud and loud that music is the universal language of the soul, and that is why it should unite nations, not separate them. We are stronger together. This is why we should stick together and not break up.”
What would KT Tunstall do? Voting, the EU and Music
Liverpool Acoustic is the only website of its kind in the UK. It was founded by Graham Holland in April 2008 as a central resource for the vibrant and exciting acoustic music scene in Liverpool and the Greater Merseyside area. The website publishes news from the local acoustic music scene, previews of upcoming events, reviews of music releases and gigs, and the Liverpool Acoustic Spotlight podcast. This content is available for free via email subscription. The diary lists acoustic events including festivals, theatre concerts, folk clubs, showcases and open mic nights.