Northern Ireland news

Brexit will hit Northern Ireland's music industry

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody. Picture by Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press.
David O'Dornan

THE music scene in Northern Ireland could be 'rocked' on two fronts by Brexit, figures in the industry have claimed.

Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody said he believed the UK's exit from the European Union will "massively" affect the music scene because young bands won't be able to afford visas to tour Europe.

Separately BBC NI presenter Joe Lindsay said he believed Brexit would mean fewer major name acts would come to these shores for big gigs.

Bangor-born singer Lightbody (43) said a hard border would be "tragic" for new bands here who want to cut their teeth abroad.

"It will affect the music scene massively here," Lightbody said. "Young bands starting out won’t be able to tour Europe because they won’t be able to afford it, they’ll need a visa for every single country they go to.

"You know, it's the things that people just don’t think about, the impact that it’ll have is extraordinarily negative on the music scene....there’s not going to be any positives.

"We’re in a very lucky position, we’ve always found ourselves very lucky in that we’re an established act that can probably still afford to tour around Europe.

"But it’s the younger acts that are starting out, they’re going to be the most hit by it in terms of the things that they can’t do now.

"And that’s the real tragedy, that young bands that need to cut their teeth by touring, by leaving home even for a brief amount of time to go out in the world and experience different audiences and the challenges and triumphs that being on tour gives you.

"So it is tragic that that will be affected for them because it’s hard enough being a young band these days because album sales are negligible and touring is the only thing that really brings any income in for young bands."

Getaways host Joe Lindsay, who is involved with the the festival Distant Sky on Rathlin Island this weekend, said is concerned about the impact on attracting artists to performing Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

Joe (47) said: "You think about how difficult it will be for bands and artists to come to Northern Ireland if Brexit happens – if we get a hard border, it will affect a lot of festivals, it will affect everything.

"Bigger festivals might be OK but it’s going to affect smaller promoters who are putting on more alternative acts, that’s a conversation we should be having if we want to preserve festivals.

"Every band that’s on tour can now come to Belfast – 20 years ago that wouldn’t have happened. And it’s actually one of the reasons why Brexit is an outstandingly bad idea.

"If Brexit happens bands are going to have to pay work visas – we’re going to see a lot less bands and artists coming here with a hard border and it being more expensive."

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