Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Why the EU has been good for my business and I will be voting to remain in EU

UK bands make a living touring in the EU
As regular readers will be aware, I run a business. The business I run is a music rehearsal and recording studio, with attached music instrument shop. So I thought I'd have a look at how #Brexit may affect my business.

1. Employment. We employ 12 people, mostly part time. Two of our employees are people who have taken advantage of the EU and the right to work anywhere. This has been hugely beneficial to us. Some of the people we employ need highy specialised skills and having access to staff from all over Europe is highly beneficial. As we have customers from all over the world who use our studios, it has also proven massively beneficial to have multi lingual staff. This week we had a band recording who were Portuguese and having a Portuguese speaker on the staff was a majr reason for them recording at our studios.

2. Suppliers. Many of our key suppliers are based in Europe. Companies such as Stagg and Pearl Drums are not based in the UK. If a #Brexit lead to tariffs or import duties, this would have a huge negative effect on sales of these items. Pearl Drums used to have a sales office in Milton Keynes, but moved to Europe. They are the drumkit of choice for our studios. I cannot see any cicumstances where we'd get a better deal from Pearl if the UK quit the EU, however there are plenty of scenarios where #Brexit may damage us. There is much talk that #Brexit will open up new markets to the UK, but Pearl is a Japanese company. The time difference means that they need a European office to trade. As Pearl concluded that the UK was too small a market to sustain an office, it seems to me that a #Brexit will have no upside.

3. Customers. I'd estimate that currently maybe 25-30% of our customers are from Eurpoean countries. The huge influx of young, talented people moving to London has allowed our business to grow and thrive. The indiginous UK population is ageing and without continued immigration many businesses will see their customer bases eroded. Immigration has always made London a melting pot for ideas and blending of musical ideas. The sector generates huge revenues for UK PLC. It seems that one of the reasons that many people support #Brexit is to stop immigration. I for one think this will be disasterous for our nation. The vast majority of immigrants come here to work and to contribute to the economy. It never ceases to amaze me that this is hardly ever mentioned.

4. Innovation. Our business needs to be innovative to thrive. Music needs to constantly reinvent itself. We need all manner of people to come together and create new ideas. I play in a band and have worked with musicians from all around the globe. It has brought huge benefits to our music and has helped our music stay current and interesting. Our bassplayer is Portuguese and having his imput has been a major reason why we have continued to progress as a creative unit. Music consists of 12 notes being played in different orders and at different tempos. What makes it interesting is when someone uses those notes and tempos in a  way we've not heard before. The more diverse our influrnces there greater the chance to make something different and exciting.  The UK is a hugely important source of inspiration for the world music scene. The free movement of people in the EU has massively enhanced this.

5. Regulations. One of the things I hear quoted at me time and time again is that if we pull  out of the EU, we'll have less regulation and business will thrive. I had a chat with a bloke from the #Brexit camp this week and I asked him to explain to me which EU regulations he'd abolish and how this would make my business thrive. Having started the conversation by telling me this was a huge benefit, he failed to name a single EU regulation that affects my business. I asked him whether it would be easier or harder for UK bands to tour the EU after a #Brexit. He couldn't answer that. At present, many of our customers make a living by playing gigs in small & medium sized venues in Europe. If this source of income was removed, many musicians would lose their livelihood. The regulations about freedom of movement and work in the EU are great for UK musicians.

Now of course every business and every sector is different. I can only write about the sector I know about. As someone who has spent my life making music and providing facilities for musicians, I see the huge benefits for our society every day. Every time you turn on the radio, turn on the TV, go into a shop, pub or restaurant, you hear music. We have some of the worlds finest musicians living and working in the UK. They don't come here for the weather, they come here because it is a vibrant place. I am sure there are other sectors and other industries where the considerations are different. But as far as I am concerned, a #Brexit would be very bad for the UK music industry, very bad for UK musicians, very bad for London studios and very bad for my business, my staff and my customers. That is why I support remain.

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