This week the iconic Irish-born rockstar Bob Geldof said that the UK’s ability to salvage our music industry post-Brexit will be near impossible.
Joining some of Britain’s most celebrated artists, Geldof has written an open letter to the Prime Minister, which is seen as a stark warning that the “vast voice” of the music industry will be silenced inside a “self-built cultural jail” if Britain crashes out of the EU.
MUST-WATCH: Bob Geldof, lead signatory to an open letter condemning Theresa May’s Brexit plans, will be marching on Parliament in our #PeoplesVoteMarch on October 20th. Read the open letter here: https://t.co/4N1XbIyt0x pic.twitter.com/hWTYbqP0vJ
— People’s Vote UK (@peoplesvote_uk) October 7, 2018
Sir Bob claims “a botched Brexit” will wreak havoc and seriously damage a creative sector worth an estimated £4.4bn a year. Its signatories include Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker, Brian Eno, John Eliot Gardiner, Bobby Gillespie, Howard Goodall, Johnny Marr, Nick Mason, Alan McGee, Rita Ora, William Orbit, Simon Rattle, Ed Sheeran, Paul Simon, Neil Tennant, Roger Taylor and Sting.
Despite Britain being the largest exporter of music outside the United States, Sir Bob has expressed the view that our long-time iconic status in this industry will disappear like a puff of smoke when we leave the EU.
However, Geldof holds a heavy hand when it comes to exaggeration. He tells us that 60 per cent of all royalty revenue comes from within the EU. But the reality is that the business of collecting and distributing royalties, in and out of the UK, will carry on exactly as before and there are no plans to change the period of copyright legislation.
Leaders from Britain’s cultural industries too are happy to steer clear from Geldof’s apocalyptic vision. In a summit last week held by the Creative Industries Federation, Britain’s cultural leaders focussed on the need to reform in the wake of technological innovation and how to extend Britain’s soft power across the globe; it was hardly a funeral for Britain’s cultural sector.
Interesting day of discussion and debate at @Creative_Fed international summit in London yesterday, on soft power, impact of brexit on creative economy, and creative education – lots to think about #FedSummit18 pic.twitter.com/3jmlKcyk2v
— Carolyn Rae (@carolyn_rae) October 10, 2018
In fact, these leaders are focussed on the adventure, risk and excitement that come with change. Like Geldof, these leaders believe that Britain can use out cultural sector to become a truly “Global Britain.” Unlike Geldof however, they don’t believe that “Global Britain” means we are an extension of Europe. They are keen to embrace the cultural hubs of Melbourne, Cape Town, New York or Minsk.
It’s easy to see what lies behind Geldof’s open letter. By painting a picture of imminent disaster, he’s adding his voice to the clamour for a second referendum. But what would be more productive would be to advise on how we can create a strong immigration system for global talent and how we can tap into countries beyond the EU.
It’s time to be pragmatic about Brexit and recognise that it does not need to be the day the music dies.