Music Touring in The EU – A Haulier’s point of view.

A big part of concert touring in the EU is moving vast amounts of equipment around.  This includes the band’s instrument, sound and lighting equipment, rigging, video gear and everything else that sits behind a spectacular live show.

This work is undertaken by specialist haulage companies with years of experience in the job. Often their drivers play an integral part in putting on the show.  They double up in roles such as camera and spotlight operators, and this helps to keep the continuity flowing at each gig.

Star Movement is one of the major players in this game.  I asked their MD, Tom Bielby, to highlight some of the issues companies like his will face from today:

“We need to point out some issues that have to be addressed; otherwise it will sink not only the UK tour trucking industry but also some of the vast network of big and small suppliers dotted around the UK. Those that survive will face even more problems and increased costs.

Firstly, “Cabotage” – The rule stating that a UK truck can go out into Europe, but can only make two deliveries before returning to the UK. This is unworkable. Most stadium tours can have 20+ venues; arena tours are the same. Although the “Goods” are owned by the UK suppliers and not being sold (they will be on Carnet) the European Union does not recognise this and regards the movements as deliveries. This is not the case; the equipment will return to the UK under the Carnet rules. An exemption for UK event hauliers on a case by case basis (i.e. a permit) needs to be agreed with the EU, otherwise, the house of cards falls.

Secondly, “Cross-trade” – the goods on Carnet are being returned to the UK. We need to be able to make multiple movements within the EU using our own trucks – Providing the goods are on Carnets, the EU should apply the same exemption to us. The trucks need to be able to move freely, unloading their goods temporarily before reloading the same goods and travelling to other member states. 

Thirdly, the need to return an HGV driver to the UK during a tour needs to have an exemption applied, if the driver has a visa, the driver should be allowed to stay with and operate his/her vehicle for the duration of that visa if he/she is performing work on live events and live music. 

Fourth and lastly, extended visas that cover workers in the event industry is essential to all of this. The EU has laws in place that protect the rights of not just EU citizens but the wider world to protect and promote their culture, but a lot of the live music touring acts across Europe are British acts.

I believe unless the UK can negotiate not just visa free work permits, but also the necessary transport exemptions for these specialist haulage companies; there will be serious damage to an industry worth over £5.8bn to the UK economy.”


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4 thoughts on “Music Touring in The EU – A Haulier’s point of view.”

  1. Hi Tim, I think what you have done in setting up the petition is brilliant. I am a ballet dancer and the loss of our freedom to work in Europe is utterly devastating to professional dancers because there are so few companies in the UK (only 5 main companies) and as highly-skilled workers, dancers from all over the globe including the EU will still be able to come to the UK and take up contracts which we desperately need. So some kind of visa-free arrangement is vital for us to be able to continue our careers – the majority of British ballet dancers are not working in the UK but in the EU where there are dozens of companies, often opera-ballet companies in each region of a given country. I have been lobbying my MP, a former harpist, about this for almost a year. She says she is sympathetic, but your petition will be much more persuasive. I see that dancers are not included in the list of cultural workers to be included in your visa scheme. I hope this is just because nobody thought to include us and not an exclusion. Unlike musicians and actors we are artists who have trained since childhood but have no union of our own – we are kind of lumped in with Equity – alongside acrobats and stunt workers – and we don’t have any powerful public figures to speak up for us! So it is so important that we can unite with our fellow artists and fight for our futures.

    1. Hi Fiona, there are so many different types of touring professional that it’s hard to remember to list them all, but rest assured I absolutely will be including all dancers in any discussions, you are as much a part of the show as the artist and the crew.

      My petition is really aimed at helping all types of touring professionals from both the UK and the EU. None of us should suffer the loss of opportunities brought about by the UK leaving the EU.

      Thank you for your comments.

  2. Dear Tim

    Pepin from John Henry’s Ltd here.

    Firstly, thank you for organising the petition. I have signed and circulated it to my work colleagues and the freelancers I generally work, or rather worked with to sign.

    Secondly, I have written to Emily Thornberry , shadow International Trade secretary, as she is the MP for the constituency where John Henry’s is based, regarding the visas, the ridiculous “cabotage”
    situation and also how the UK’s refusal to agree a customs union will impact on being able to rapidly dispatch spares or extras out to a tour in the EU – plus the overall financial impact to the UK touring/live music industry.

    Let me know if you would like a copy of that letter.

    Best regards


    1. Hi Pepin,
      Feel free to post your letter here and link to it if need be. Could be a good example for other people to use.

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