On November 25, Nigel Adams, Conservative MP for Selby and Ainsty initiated a debate in Parliament on UK musicians performing overseas. The debate was in response to continued and increased concerns about the American visa system and the restrictive and expensive processes musicians have to go through in order to perform in the USA. The debate presented an opportunity to press the Government on what support they can provide to improving the system. This also follows on from an Early Day Motion proposed previously by Patrick Grady MP.
A music industry taskforce, led by the Musicians Union and involving UK Music, is being established to coordinate industry efforts in this regard. Speaking on the debate:
Nigel Adams MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Music said: “I am proud that the UK is a world leader in music but it is now time to streamline the US visa process for those in the UK music industry so that talented UK musicians and crew members are not put to great expense and inconvenience by a cumbersome, expensive system. I am delighted to have brought this debate to Parliament and will continue to press the government to work with the US authorities to ensure that our musicians can access one of the biggest markets in the world without going through the current unnecessary and expensive system.”
Jo Dipple, Chief Executive, UK Music said: “UK Music has consistently campaigned for a system that allows UK musicians to perform overseas without restraints on their trade. We are troubled by increased reports of UK acts and artists having difficulty getting visas to perform in America. The North American music market generates revenues of $5.24 billion and is a significant market for the UK industry which exports £2.1 billion globally. UK Music looks forward to working with the Government, American Embassy and wider music industry in finding workable solutions.”
Dave Webster, National Organiser Live Performance, Musicians Union (MU) said: “The American market remains extremely important to UK musicians and being able to perform to American audiences is vital in growing their fanbase. The process of obtaining a US visa is currently long, complicated and extremely expensive, involving face-to-face meetings and sometimes lengthy delays. For musicians who are still developing their careers, the cost and complications provide a real barrier to their success. Whilst we understand the necessity of having a visa system in place the MU would welcome any moves to reduce the cost and complexity for musicians and reaches a reciprocal arrangement that is fair. The MU British Underground and UK Music are convening a Task Force to regularly discuss these issues and to seek workable solutions we can take to the Government and the U.S officials.”
Crispin Parry, CEO, British Underground said: “We produce some of the world’s best new music talent in the UK and there is an enthusiastic market in the USA hungry to hear it. To find a way of ensuring our music-makers can reach this audience without excessive costs and administrative barriers and without compromising the robustness of the visa process would be a satisfying outcome for all parties.”