Bullshit Story of the Day: Canada Slaps New Fee on Touring Foreign Musicians

Help me with this one.  What’s the point?  And who is it going to benefit? Won’t it just result in (a) less money for touring musicians; (b) higher ticket prices; and (c) less choice for music fans?

What’s that?  It’s destined to protect Canadian indie musicians and provide them with work that would otherwise go to a foreigh act?  

Piffle.  A load of protectionist bullshit.

From the Calgary Herald:

Many bar owners, booking agents and promoters are bemoaning changes to the federal regulations surrounding foreign workers entering Canada which will see them hit with heavier financial burdens that could deal a crippling blow to live music at the club level.

The new rules, which quietly came into effect July 31, will double, triple or even quadruple the cost of bringing in international artists to perform in bars, restaurants or coffee shops, affecting such local venues for music lovers as The Palomino, Ironwood, Broken City, Blues Can, and the Ship & Anchor, and their counterparts across the country.

The regulations require that 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.) when it applies for a Labour Market Opinion, or LMO, to allow those outside workers to perform and work in their establishment. That’s also in addition to an extra $150 for each approved musician and crew member’s work permit.

Prior to the changes, the fee was simply $150 per band member, maxing out at $450, and that was a one-time fee for them to simply enter the country, which allowed venue owners across Canada to share the nominal cost or book them separately at no extra charge.

Jeezus, as if musicians aren’t squeezed enough these days.  And think about the impact on promoters and venues.  

Like I said, this is a bunch of protectionist bullshit.  Read on. And then sign this petition to make it stop.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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8 thoughts on “Bullshit Story of the Day: Canada Slaps New Fee on Touring Foreign Musicians

  • There should be an exception for musicians under this labour law because foreign musicians will stop coming to Canada because they won't make any money here. That makes me sad as a music fan. I strongly disagree with the protectionist standpoint. There are plenty of clubs and available nights to choose from, so it's not like Canadian indie musicians are deprived of the chance to play. Local artists can fill opening slots for more established foreign acts as well.

  • The smaller international acts will just stop playing Canadian dates. Typical short sighted , money grabbing move by the government

  • Our fatheaded minister says that these fees will help pay for the cost of administering the programme. What if Canadian musicians could work in the states (on production of contracts for gigs), and American musicians could come into Canada to work (again, with contracts). No "Labour Market Opinion" necessary. no paperwork to examine (except the contracts). Let's LOWER the barriers to cultural exchange, not raise them and tighten them!

  • Alan,
    Thanks for posting this, as this is just another example of govt killing the arts.
    The govt needs to remember that without these artists and the money they bring into the economy there would be a significant loss of tax dollars and other economic issues that would affect various businesses from bars to restaurants to hotels etc.
    Hopefully enough people voice their displeasure with this and the govt rethinks their position on taxing the people that bring in a ton of cash to the economy of our country.

  • I signed this petition awhile back. Here's my comments from it;

    Stop taxing, and get your spending under control!

    Did you stop to think that in trying to grab $2500 or so in tax from the artists in a band for each gig, they may say "forget Canada"? Then, you lose out on the taxes you get from each ticket sold, and the taxes on each concession snack or drink sold, likely much more than the $2500 you're angling for up front? Less gigs also means less work for each person that works those venues.

    That's a Far-reaching impact if you look past the "let's get and extra couple grand out of these rich, successful artists".

    Again, get your spending under control. Stop wasting EVERYONE'S tax dollars & get responsible. If I ran my household finances the way you, our esteemed Government do, I wouldn't have a house for very long…..

  • Not just music… film, television, and theatrical performers are also hit by this.

  • Radio producer with college-community FM station here. I agree with the author. However (and I really hate to sound like a pedant but) – as cathartic as this online petition is, the House of Commons has NO LEGAL OBLIGATION to pay any attention to it, nor to change this obnoxious amendment to the law because of it =>>> No matter how many well intentioned souls sign it. In light of this, some of us from smaller but rabid scenes which will be hardest hit are drafting a hard-copy petition for people to sign which will be presented in House of Commons to adjust this boneheaded fee change.

  • We've run a blues festival in Thorold Ontario for 12 years – this will likely mean its end. Meaning that at least 60% of Canadian bands involved will also be thrown out of a job.
    Who are these morons who want this cash crab? Do they not get that most musicians don't even make $275 for a nights work – They're not all frigging Bruce Springsteen. This will absolutely NOT result in more revenue for the Canadian government – shows will be cancelled everywhere. at least 95% of musicians coming to Canada will not be able to afford this and so will not come. Festivals will die and Canadian bands will hurt even more than they do.
    Free Trade – my ass.


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