New government fees for international touring musicians to hurt ALL Canadian music fans

We were covering the DIY or DIE series, but the Canadian Government is about to ruin the live music scene for all music fans.  Effective July 31 all international musicians will be subject to a $275 application fee to perform in Canada (including all supporting tour managers, roadies, etc.) and another $150 if successful.  This is unacceptable and even more infuriating as Canadian citizens were not consulted on a decision that would ultimately cost them the freedom to enjoy their favourite music.  These are non-refundable fees for EACH venue they perform at, whereas before it was a one-time fee of $150 to enter Canada to a max of $450.

This is not just about the bar owners, booking agents and promoters who are now facing tough choices about what bands they can book.

Music is our culture.  We are influenced by music from all over the world. If we’re supposed to be a multi-cultural shining light for the rest of the world, how are we to represent this without being able to afford to pay the performers?

Promoters are already taking a personal gamble in booking concerts.  I should know, I’ve been doing it for years.  If a band guarantee is $500 and you’re expecting 70-100 people at $10/each you’re barely going to break even.  The local openers certainly won’t be paid.  The sound person will be grumpy that you can’t tip him.  Even just buying drink tickets for the band may not be possible.

International touring bands already have fees that people aren’t aware of.  Accommodations and food are often included in riders and if the promoter can’t cover these there is usually a “buy-out” option of per diem for them.  Just getting across the border with the proper visa prior to July 31 was a risk (Hence why more than a few bands have sent their merch to my home to pick up once they’re in town.)

Now for a band with 4 members and 1 touring support staff the cost would be $2,125/per show.  There is NO way an average indie band from Portland or whatever with an album or two could recover this cost from a 100-200 person venue.  This would not cover the band guarantee, accommodations, or per diem.  Even then, the shows would have to be packed and ticket prices would have to be HIGH.

Throughout the summer I’ve been lucky enough to hit up some amazing festivals with artists from all around the world.  Bjork from Iceland, Father John Misty from the States, and I’m seeing Alt J from England tomorrow.  Taking away the option to enjoy live music is going to hurt our cultural community, economy and ultimately the reputation of Canada.  We are not anti-arts, we just have someone in charge who doesn’t get the importance of supporting musicians with different passports.

If you agree that this new fee needs to be abolished please visit Change.org’s petition.  They’re already at about 130,000 signatures and need another 20,000 for it to be re-visited in Parliament. 

Alternatively, if you live in Ottawa, come on down to Babylon tonight where a protest/fundraiser is taking place with live music from Dany Laj and Atherton.