In a move that can only be interpreted as actively destructive, Canada has enacted regulations creating near impossible barriers for smaller touring musicians to perform in their country. As of July 31st, any “venue with a primary business other than music but which also books bands or performers must now pay an application fee of $275 per musician and those travelling with the band (tour manager, sound person, guitar tech, etc)… That’s also in addition to an extra $150 for each approved musician and crew member’s work permit.” The old policy charged one-time fees minuscule in comparison and maxed out at $450. This was paid upon entry into the country and was shared across venue owners. Oh, and the final nail in the coffin? The new Temporary Foreign Worker Program’s remuneration is nonrefundable. Good luck convincing a promoter to book a your favorite underdog or budding act. There’s just too much risk involved.
Promoters, booking agents, and fans are up in arms over what many are heralding as “anti arts and culture.” This is somewhat reactionary, but if anything, I think this broad brush of a policy was built with a lack of perspective. The amount of international performers coming to Canada to play in smaller venues is not a huge community and definitely isn’t one actively represented in legislature. Still, problems like this will always arise from blanket rules that lack flexibility and as such Canadian fans can expect a few outcomes.
- The cost will be passed on to the bar, club, promoter, or booker resulting in an umbrella effect spreading the charge to raising ticket prices, lowering production quality and the experience overall.
- High risk bookings will become even more risky and likely will be abandoned for more safe investments.
- Affected venues will be pushed to find loopholes (legal and otherwise) to cater to the same fan base. Not good.
- Smaller international artists will look at the country as an unprofitable market and abandon Canada as a viable participant in the live music community.
While the underdog is squished under these detrimental fees, high profile acts will go largely unaffected. It’s only been a few weeks since the laws enforcement, so we will have to wait to see it’s true result (as well as any government response). I don’t see this ending well for Canadian fans, but as someone who toured a lot when I was younger, I can see one positive outcome… More house parties. Every performer has to start somewhere, I guess now they just won’t be starting in Canada.
Don’t support this thoughtless policy? Sign the petition to remove it here.