At the House of Commons Liaison Committee, Johnson said:
“We wanted to have reciprocal rights for musicians to tour, but before everybody worries about this I should stress that what we have is the right for UK musicians to go and play in other European countries—in EU countries—for 90 out of 180 days.”
While it is true that UK nationals holding a valid passport can travel to the EU for up to 90 days in a 180 day period, UK musicians seeking to play in the EU were now treated as third-country nationals. Rather than being a “visa-free period”, musicians needed a work permit to do so, depending on the individual regulation of the country they are visiting.
When Johnson made the statement on January 13th 2021, the Consulate of Spain in London webpage, for example, explicitly stated that artists, actors, musicians and models would all require visas to work in Spain for a period of less than 90 days.
A survey conducted by The Incorporated Society of Musicians found that 78% of musicians visit EU/EEA at least once a year to perform.
The Spanish have subsequently relaxed their rules.