ComplexCon returns to Long Beach Nov. 6 - 7 with hosts J. Balvin and Kristen Noel Crawley, performances by A$AP Rocky and Turnstile, and more shopping and drops.
Secure your spot while tickets last!
Hey there, did you know Scotland is voting on independence from Britain on September 18? Don’t worry, you’re probably not alone, most North Americans don’t know what’s going on anywhere outside their own backyard.
It seems almost inconceivable that these two people would go their separate ways. Scotland has been part of the UK for around 300 years. They have the same religion, the same language, and have lived in harmony for a long time. The main difference is that they have a fundamentally different view of the role of the government in people’s lives. To put it simply, Scottish tend to think it’s the government’s job to ensure that a greater amount of people can benefit from the wealth of society through things like higher taxes on the rich and free healthcare. England's political leaders tend to favor business and the wealthy and see government’s role as getting out of the way to let people make money. This doesn’t seem like an insurmountable difference of opinion from a North American perspective. The U.S. is a country where in some areas gay marriage and marijuana are legal whereas in others they are outlawed. The states can have widely different ideologies but they stay together.
Despite all this, Scottish independence is a real possibility with the latest poll showing the “Yes” side leading by a slim margin. We here at DAD, being big electronic music fans, immediately started wondering about the possible implications for the British scene and Scottish electronic music artists. It’s one of the most influential scenes in the world and there will no doubt be significant cultural and economic effects if independence goes through. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Firstly there’s the issue of whether there will be a border or not. The jury is still out as this article from The Guardian thoroughly explains. The "Yes" side says there won’t be one and that Scotland will automatically be part of the Common Travel Area (CTA), which allows people from the British Isles and Ireland to travel cross the borders of the countries without a passport. The UK government says that this would not necessarily be the case and that an independent Scotland would have to apply to join .
The short term implications for something like this would mean that with customs controls, a Scottish DJ who wants to play in London would potentially need a work visa. Anyone from outside the current UK could potentially require multiple visas if they are doing a tour. This is even further complicated when one takes into account that Ireland and the UK are not part of the Schengen customs union that comprises most of the EU countries. Any European tour would thus involve a lot more headaches and paperwork which could be discouraging for lesser known producers or DJs who don’t have a big team working behind them.
If you don’t have a headache yet, let me help you get one by bringing in a whole other area of contention. It’s also not certain Scotland would have access to the vast UK diplomatic network of embassies and consulates around the world and visa agreements. UK citizens currently enjoy the greatest visa-free freedom of movement of any country in the world. There’s no guarantee DJs from an independent Scotland would be able to enjoy the same benefits. This could make it hard for them to play in certain markets. Furthermore, because Scotland would have to build up it’s network of embassies and consulates around the world, a predicament like a lost or stolen passport could become an even bigger pain than it already is.
Another big “if” is whether Scotland will be allowed to continue to use the pound sterling as a currency after independence. The Yes side contends that they could while the UK government is not so enthusiastic. In the scenario that a free Scotland is shut out of the pound, there could further challenges for Scottish DJs playing in the rest of the UK and elsewhere.
Speaking of money, there’s another area that could have an effect specifically on producers or other artists creating electronic music: the payment of royalties. Currently producers and performers in the UK collect royalties from PRS and PPL. An independent Scotland would have to set up a whole royalty distribution system which may cause delays in payment. Furthermore, these two royalty collection societies receive payment for UK artists from their equivalents in other countries through what are called “reciprocity agreements.” Without these agreements in place, artists in an independent Scotland could see a drastic reduction in the royalties they receive. Vice-versa, artists from other countries could see a marginal drop in their royalties as they would, for a time, not be receiving royalties from Scotland.
The final area where Scottish artists could be affected is less clear. It’s from the cultural separation from what is arguably one of the spiritual homes of electronic music. The UK has been instrumental in the development of some of the most enduring and popular forms of electronic music. I’m not here to give you a history lesson. If you don’t know this or agree, please look it up and then bask in how wrong/ignorant you are. There is no doubt that Scotland has benefited from being part of the UK scene and would no doubt continue to do so if they don’t separate. There’s growing evidence though that they could probably do very well on their own. Earlier this year we featured some amazing artists from Scotland making waves in both the mainstream and the underground of electronic music. Calvin Harris is a global powerhouse while people like Rustie, Hudson Mohawke and S-Type could be said to be creating a hip-hop inspired Scottish sound. In many ways the rest of the UK would be a poorer place without these talented and rising artists.
No matter what happens, we hope for the best of outcomes for everybody.