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David Joseph

OPINION: PONDERING BREXIT’S ANTICIPATED IMPACT ON THE MUSIC BUSINESS

We asked British label heads and American attorneys to offer their initial thoughts about the Issue on everyone’s mind. Here are their responses.

David Joseph, UMG U.K.: “Even another brilliant Glastonbury hasn't diminished the disappointment of last Thursday's referendum result; the mood in the office on Friday was pretty sombre. This will be a week of digesting the implications, but also absolute business and focus as usual—we at Universal still have our European family and borders have never figured in the creativity, collaboration and unity which characterise our industry.”

Martin Mills, Beggars Group: “It’s too early to comment sensibly yet—but here’s what I sent my staff on Friday under the heading ‘LOST FOR WORDS’: We’re stunned and saddened at the U.K.’s decision to leave the EU family. While we digest the consequences, we’d just like to reassure you all that the Beggars family is, always has been, and always will be, international, with no frontiers. We will continue to find ways to flourish by bringing music and music lovers together across the world.”

Joel Katz, attorney: “It is a beginning of change to the political right, which may unfortunately spread to other Western democracies. Movement to the political right is usually not good for the creative arts.”

Peter Paterno, attorney: “It will definitely affect U.S. acts that tour the U.K. or perform at the U.K. festivals, since the pound will get pounded and promoters will pay less.”

Jeffrey Light, attorney: “The biggest short-term impact will be on touring (the pound is down 11% against the dollar as this is written), so guarantees will lower in real dollars, but costs for U.S. acts will go down as well (the U.S. dollars they use to pay crew, hotels, etc. will reduce overhead). Music publishing will be affected dollar for dollar on U.K. remittances.”

Don Passman, attorney: “I think it's too soon to tell. In the short term, it shouldn't mean much because it will take a while to unwind. In the long run, it's more about how it affects the British economy rather than the music industry specifically. However, it will mean the British music biz will be a total stand-alone, likely with different rules than Europe. Whether that's better or worse will depend on the specifics, which won't become clear until they focus on them. And given the other priorities, that could be a while.”

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