Extra costs when purchasing from the EU

Unfortunately due to the abomination that is BREXIT, we are hearing of people getting hit with 20-30 Euros customs costs relating to merchandise bought from the UK. Sadly there is absolutely nothing we can do about this as, in reality, it is just pricing us out of that particular market.

We would advise that anyone wishing to purchase physical copies of PQ albums, and they are based in an EU country, then please purchase from the Inner Wound Recordings BandCamp Store to avoid additional costs.

https://innerwound.bandcamp.com

Wings of Forever Gallery

Here are some pics of the guys who played on this album with their copies!

Wings of Forever - 20th Anniversary Vinyl Edition - Preorders

POWER QUEST ANNOUNCES VINYL EDITIONS OF DEBUT ALBUM "WINGS OF FOREVER"

Power Quest, the renowned melodic power metal band based in the UK will reissue their debut album "Wings of Forever" on limited vinyl on March 25th via Inner Wound Recordings. There will be 150 copies on black vinyl and 150 copies on white/black marble vinyl.

The vinyl editions are available for pre-order here: Power Quest store: https://www.musicglue.com/power-quest Inner Wound store: https://innerwound.bandcamp.com/album/wings-of-forever

Steve Williams of Power Quest comments "Wow! Has it really been 20 years since we released the Wings of Forever album? Time certainly flies and without doubt more so as we get older, at least that’s the impression I get these days.

20 years.. amazing and in some ways we need to go back a further 20 years to 1982 or thereabouts when I was first getting into rock and metal, learning piano and basically dreaming about being in a rock band, making a record and touring the world. So after 20 years of hopes and dreams it really was incredible to finally release an album, see it in the shops and all that good stuff.

It was a memorable time for not only me but for Steve Scott (bass), Adam Bickers (guitar), Alessio Garavello (vocals), Sam Totman (guitar) and Andrea Martongelli (guitar). We had a blast putting this record together and the friendships made in those early days remain as strong as ever to this day, which is another thing I am incredibly proud of.

I hope you guys enjoy the vinyl reissue of the debut Power Quest album. It's been out of print generally for so long now but it's cool to have a special limited edition vinyl release to celebrate the anniversary.

Thanks for the support down the years. Be safe and take care of yourselves."

MERCH SHIPPING UPDATE

Due to it now costing twice as much to send an item to the US (£16 for a shirt now) we have had to make the decision to only sell items of a certain size within Europe.

This means that posters and vinyl are only available now in the UK and Europe. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause, but we can't be in a position where it costs us more to send the item than the item is actually worth.

Many of you have asked about new items of merchandise but, as it stands, there are no immediate plans to bring new stock in. A band like PQ makes most of it's sales at gigs and there won't be any of them until late 2022 at the earliest in our opinion.

Thanks for your understanding

Fish and Brexit and Touring

Legendary singer/song writer Fish has published a passionate and damning statement on the state of the music industry, via his Facebook page.

The former Marillion frontman, who recently released his final album ‘Weltschmerz’ (which MetalTalk called his finest album to date) talks about touring, streaming and how his album was not reflected in the ‘official’ charts, even though sales should have put it a Number Two.

Here is the text in full:

THE FIRST WHAMMY.

How Brexit Has Destroyed UK Artists’ Ability To Tour In The EU – by Fish (21 st Jan, 2021)

I’m still reeling from the new regulations revealed by the UK Government just over 2 weeks ago regarding touring in the European Union post Brexit. I’ve been trying to make sense of it all from all the sometimes contradictory and often vague information available on various websites that are constantly being updated and working out how this affects my own business and career. It’s quite frankly confounding.

I’ve grown tired of hearing “So what did musicians do before we joined the EU then?”.

In 1973 when the UK joined the EU I was 15 years old and the Global Music Industry revenues were around 5 billion US dollars.

By the turn of the century they were around $25 billion and today worth around $21 billion with the UK music industry generating $7.5 billion. That is a figure that doesn’t even take in the vast independent network or all the ancillary workers and bolt on industries that contribute hugely these days to the International music business.

As an example, my album sales don’t even count as I’m not officially chart ‘registered’ and on unofficial figures I had a Top 10 album in the UK with over 10 000 physical mail order sales of my 11 th solo album, ‘Weltschmerz’ in the first week of release in October 2020. A purely independent release. A tree in the forest. And there are a lot of trees out there.

It’s a huge industry generating nearly 4 times more than the UK fishing industry which despite a loud lobbying voice has its own valid frustrations at this time as we deal with all this weight of bureaucracy now foisted upon us by Brexit.

To put things a bit in perspective ‘The Who’ between 1963 and 1973 played only around 55 shows in the current EU countries. I have 27 EU shows and 5 in Scandinavia rescheduled from last year going out across 43 days in the Autumn of this year. That is more than half of the 90 out of 180 days I am allowed to be in the EU under the new rules. If these shows had gone ahead as planned in 2020 I would have been booking further shows in the early part of this year, if the new regulations allowed. Taking into account any

EU festivals which are normally a 3-day venture across a performance, plus any promotion trips which would also have to be added to my tally, as well as personal visits to my German family, and those 90 days in 180 fast disappear.

The visa/ permit situation has a major impact. From what I’ve discovered so far we now need permits for every country in the EU. In Holland for example the administration/ processing costs of a permit are around £250 per person not including the instigation and set up on our end. I carry a 10-person team; 6 musicians including myself, a back-line tech, a sound engineer, a lighting/projection tech and a production manager.

If the permits are for every individual country and of similar amounts then I have around £2500 in extra costs on permits alone for every EU country we perform in. This will rule out single shows in countries such as France and Belgium where I play medium club size gigs and put a lot of pressure on future shows in Spain and Italy where I normally have a brace of gigs of around 5-800 capacity.

These shows are already squeaky as we work to minimum guarantees that cover only costs from promoters and the visa/ permit charge represents nearly 50% of those guarantees. Some shows will quite simply become financially unfeasible on potential permit costs alone.

Compared to many artists I operate with a very tight crew and I have to keep it lean to make the figures work and keep us on the road and earning a living for everyone concerned. I have learned to manage myself – thus saving 20% of my gross income, which can be used to finance touring – and have ‘assassinated’ as many middle men as possible to enable me to continue making music and perform shows. It’s a lot of work for someone who just wants to be an artist but if I don’t take on these responsibilities myself I couldn’t make a living.

And I am an established artist! I’ve just been handed a live grenade with the pin pulled out.

My heart goes out to musicians starting out in small clubs and at the beginning of their careers who have to find that money in advance of tours. Artists signed to major labels have a better chance but for independents it’s a killer.

Crew members and session musicians have an added hit from the newly limited time allowed in the EU. Most techs and session musicians make a living by touring with a variety of artists throughout the year and they will now be unable, or find it very difficult, to juggle schedules to adhere to the new rules on travel. In short UK based touring personnel will be hamstrung and UK artists might have to consider taking on EU based crew and musicians to get around the restrictions – thus depriving their long-standing UK crew of being able to make a living.

We now have to have our passports stamped at every border crossing in order to officially document the time we spend in various countries as per the visas/ permits. At those crossings we must get a carnet stamped. This is a UK generated document that identifies and lists every piece of equipment carried out of the UK from guitars and amps to strings, drums and sticks and skins, keyboards etc. It is used to show that we take the equipment out and cross every border with the same manifest and return to the UK with exactly the same contents.

The carnet basically shows that we haven’t exported anything for sale to another country and haven’t imported anything out with the manifest. It has to be stamped going in and out of every country and miss a stamp and you walk into a nightmare of bureaucracy and potential heavy fines. (I’ve had to fly someone to Switzerland with supporting legal documents to have a carnet stamped that was missed as there was no one available at that time in the morning at the border as we were gig bound on a tight schedule).

At the border crossings the customs officers are totally within their rights to ask for an entire truck or trailer to be unloaded and examined to see if it matches the carnet documents. Protests on time constraints are a waste of energy and the tour-bus drivers just have to wait while the digital tachographs count down their drive time available. And the drivers’ operating and rest time in these potential circumstances has to be taken into consideration.

Being stopped for a couple of hours during the night at a border check could take a driver out of the legal time allowed at the wheel. In order to make sure we get to places we are supposed to be, the only solution now is to take on double drivers, who would normally only come on board for long hauls such as in Scandinavia or occasional big drives.

Having 2 drivers full time on an entire tour just keeps on adding to the costs with not only their wages but hotel rooms and catering. The risks of losing shows because a driver is out of hours aren’t worth taking.

Yes, carnets existed before Brexit but they were only needed up till now in Switzerland and Norway. It’s now across every European country and every border crossing where they will have to be stamped for the first time since 1973; 48 years ago, when amplifiers only had valves and ‘digital’ was a word in Science Fiction books.

Legal drive time didn’t exist in 1973.

We pay tax in all the countries we play in Europe. For example in Germany it’s about 19% on the gross fee received from the promoter and unless you are represented by a German based company who can reclaim some costs such as tour buses at around £1400 a day, hotels for any day off at over £1200 a night for the team, and various other production costs which include a contribution to crew wages, the tax is taken from the top.

When you pay those taxes you receive a credit note from the respective tax authority and that is provided to HMRC to put against your UK taxes. It’s called a reciprocal tax agreement. I paid over £25k in withholding tax in the EU in 2018 on one tour after allowances for costs because I had a German agent.

Up till now I have not had an answer as to whether that still applies.

Do we still get that allowance or will only a percentage of it apply if at all? At the moment my tax advisors don’t know. I’m supposed to be on tour in 8 months and don’t even know if it’s actually financially feasible. The contracts were signed in late 2019 and don’t take into consideration any post Brexit financial implications as no one knew what they were until 2 weeks ago.

We will now have to deal with the respective ‘national insurances’ in every country on top of the income tax. That applies to everyone in the band and crew and requires more paperwork and applications.

We will now also have to register for VAT in every EU country if we want to sell merchandise on the road and claim back VAT from costs. All taxes have to be paid in full before any merch leaves the UK and declarations could have to be made at every national border. If we are not registered then it’s near impossible to reclaim back the respective national VAT.

As an example the German nightliner tour bus on the next alleged tour has around £13,000 VAT we now become liable for. This means more accountancy bills, more middlemen, more bureaucracy.

Like most other artists, I need merchandise sales on tour to supplement my income and allow us to play shows in areas where the promoter’s guarantee from ticket sales falls short of the costs required to perform there. As an independent artist a large amount of my album sales are on the road at the merchandise stall.

Streaming changed the ball game and as a result, physical album sales in traditional record stores have collapsed compared to when I started in the music business 40 years ago, so playing live has become the principal source of income for many musicians and bands.

This comes through gig fees and direct-to-customer album and merchandise sales.

And I am a recognised artist with a loyal fanbase and playing decent size venues. I’ve managed through trial and error over time to find a model that works. I’m not in a new band making its first forays into Europe taking the big jump and betting on a chance to break into what is still the third biggest music market in the World, just a few miles on a ferry across the Channel.

How are they supposed to find visa fees especially if they are an independent outfit? How do they front costs for that valuable merch that could be their only wages on a gig? The wages that pay their rent and the rehearsal rooms and fuel in the tank?

How does the next young Iron Maiden, Simple Minds, The Cure or dare I say Marillion break into the EU market now?

From where is the UK government going to replace those potential future tax revenues from successful bands? Do they care? It certainly doesn’t appear so, especially for the non-corporate bands.

These are just some of the razor wire hurdles I’ve come across so far since the new Brexit rules were published just a couple of weeks ago. Prior to that I’ve been discussing probabilities with fellow professionals, tour and production managers, accountants, and advisors for well over 18 months trying to discover how this was all going to affect us – but the government left it so late, none of us have been able to prepare.

Tours are booked over a year in advance and there is a lot of detailed planning involved. I’m used to that. And still no one seems to be any clearer on what is happening.

Some have accused the live music industry of not facing reality after the Brexit vote was determined by the accumulative vote across the UK. That is most definitely not true. We have been trying to read the runes and the smoke for a very long time and being in an industry that has to continually adjust to outside factors on a sometimes-daily basis while on the road we are accustomed to extraneous demands.

Taking a double-barrelled shotgun to our feet was not anywhere in the equation.

I’m not an accountant, never wanted to be. I wanted to be a creative artist and performer who could ply my trade and earn a living across borders, and especially in Europe, our closest neighbours and as I said the third biggest music market in the world next to the USA and Japan.

It appears that the only sector benefitting from all these new regulations are accountants and advisors, and all those costs will percolate through to album and concert ticket prices.

And all of this during a pandemic that has crippled the music industry and put thousands out of work for an indefinite time. I always look for silver linings with regards to my own situation and the only thing I can grasp on to is that my own postponed tour gives me preparation time to take on these seemingly constantly changing regulations and find a way forward.

Some may say visa/permit costs, tax changes etc are negligible and part of the ‘cost’ of this current mess. For an arena level band, that may be so. It’s mostly an accountancy issue and they will usually have a wider organisation who can focus on paperwork, but for others at my level and below it’s the difference between having a tour and a career in the music business or not.

And now? Where am I?

A 32 date European and Scandinavian tour looming in September with rehearsals necessary in August; an increasingly raging virus, nationwide vaccinations still a long way off, no insurance for anything Covid related, promoters suggesting renegotiations of contracts for potential social distancing (impossible and refused), vastly increased merchandise commission of around 20% of the gross sales (plus VAT) expected as venues and corporate entities involved try to recover losses and all of the above previously mentioned.

Is it going to happen? I wouldn’t buy tickets and incur fees that are non-returnable until I knew for certain the tour was happening. I certainly can’t hold up my hand and say I will be on tour in September or at any point this year.

And now, take another step back on this and look from the other side. I am on tour, potentially unvaccinated. Our tour merchandiser faces the public every night. She contracts the virus and we have maybe 10 days before she shows symptoms, and we are all together on a bus every day. Meanwhile in 10 days we could be in 7 cities intermingling with house crews, journalists, promoters, members of the general public etc.

One band, one bus – one potential travelling super-spreading Covid generator.

The tour is scheduled to start in just over 8 months, and we are still in lockdown here for perhaps another month and beyond. We should be looking at applying for visas/ permits by the beginning of summer latest to ensure we are regulatory compliable?

And that means I will need to pay out £15k for work permits/visas we might not even need and in my opinion shouldn’t even be required in the first place?

The ‘bandwagon’ was already stalled by the pandemic and now bureaucracy has slashed the tyres and thrown sand in the engine while laying a minefield on the road with no maps to trust.

All the info I’ve related comes from current valid and credible sources. It’s not ‘fake news’ or ‘Remainer bullshit’.

This is what I have discovered so far and what is being revealed on a day-to-day basis – on government and official websites which are constantly updated – still remains vague and doesn’t address specific questions we genuinely need answers to. It’s all real and at the moment it’s all that we know now.

I genuinely despair at the current state of the music industry and the dreams that are being broken on these rocks. I’m 63 this year and immensely grateful for what the music industry and the fans of my music have given me over the last 40 years. I just can’t imagine what it’s like for a young artist in these present times. I planned to retire from live music in 2023 and have just lost 2 years on a road I seriously don’t know if I will ever revisit.

We, the music business, and industry of the UK are currently in a perilous state. After all we have given to the world over the last 50 years and more; the revenue and cultural recognition that has been provided to this country through the musicians and technicians and every ancillary member of the live music communities with their writing, creations, and performances.

We deserve better than this from our elected government.

We need a rethink and we need it sooner rather than later as our future is in jeopardy.

It was 20 years ago today......

January 2021

Happy New Year

A few words from PQ boss Steve Williams

Happy New Year one and all! As we all know only too well, 2020 was a challenging year and hopefully by the end of 2021 we will be in a much better place. Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Stay safe and stay at home. If you want to see live shows again then stay at home now. In the meantime, please remember that “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”. Any other course of action is just going to extend the duration of this pandemic and I, for one, am pretty sick of watching selfish, entitled people carry on with no regard for the greater good.

Due to the different rules relating to the Pandemic in the various countries that make up the UK, and having a member of the band based overseas, we haven’t actually met as a band since the last show in November 2019 and I can’t honestly see that changing in the next few months either I’m sorry to say.

It was 20 years ago today…..

It’s hard to believe that on January 20th 2001 myself and Steve Scott kicked Power Quest into life, shortly to be joined by Dr Adam Bickers. 20 years man! All those train journeys to London every couple of weeks to rehearse, many times also including Sam Totman, and write the material that would become the Wings of Forever album. Halcyon days indeed! The original Panic rehearsal rooms in North Acton were where we mainly rehearsed. I recall we even started getting some ideas for the Neverworld album together then as well, long before WOF was released. Edge of Time specifically springs to mind here.

It’s been a hell of a ride with many ups and downs along the way as many of you will know but I think back to when I was a 14 year old kid dreaming of being in a metal band and making records back in 1985. PQ may not have been the biggest commercial success in the world but if I could go back and tell the 14 year old me that eventually there would be 6 PQ albums, 2 EC albums and live shows as far afield as Japan and the US…..I think the 14 year old me probably would have thought that was incredible.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas guys! I know it's a little different this year for many but please stay safe and follow your local COVID related rules......Christmas comes every year so the sooner everyone behaves the sooner we can move on. I know it doesn't help having, quite frankly, useless leadership in some countries in this regard but we all have common sense so there's no excuse.

Here's to 2021 being a better year all-round for everyone.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Cheers

Steve W

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