Making It Easier and More Fair for Canadian Musicians to Tour in the US

Everyone has experienced post 9/11 issues of crossing into the US from Canada. Remember when all we needed to do was flash a driver’s license? And if you’re planning on doing work in America–say, as a touring musical artist–the red tape can be awful. If your paperwork isn’t exactly in order and the customs officer at the border is feeling particularly vigilant, your tour can be canceled in a nanosecond.

And it’s not just small inexperienced indie bands that run into trouble. Talk to bands like the Trews and the Sheepdogs.

The Canadian Independent Music Association realizes that red tape is an issue. They’ve issued this report on the matter.

Red Tape at the Border Creates Barriers for Canadian Music

 “Over the Border and into the Clubs” – Canadian Indie Music Makes a Sound Case for Reciprocity

(Monday, April 18, 2016 – Toronto): The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) has released a report that illustrates the opportunities and challenges that exist for Canadian musicians seeking to play shows and do business in the United States. The report calls for fairness and reciprocity when it comes to US immigration and tax policies as they relate to Canadian artists.

Over the Border and into the Clubs: Canada’s Music Industry and the US Market quantifies the risks, costs and difficulties that impact Canadian artists who seek to promote their music in the United States.

  • The Canadian market is small and Canadian companies believe it is important to access American audiences
  • Canadians want to expand and invest south of the border but face obstacles, despite existing trade agreements
  • Over 60% of Canadian firms said the time and money they spend on border-related processes is burdensome
  • Work permits can be hard to obtain, and excessive taxation of revenue can create major cash flow difficulties
  • This is especially difficult for small companies, who make up a majority of the Canadian music industry
  • Music is a global export, meaning that greater labour mobility is conducive to a healthier, vibrant music industry

A copy of the report can be downloaded here:

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.

One thought on “Making It Easier and More Fair for Canadian Musicians to Tour in the US

  • April 21, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    This isn’t just about Canada having difficulties with the US border.

    Our border control is Byzantine and moronic as well: This month alone on two tours I paid to see, a total of 3 bands and 4 musicians were missing from the performances because our border agents decided people with an impared charge in 2006 can’t enter Canada or because some “T” wasn’t dotted properly.

    We want the Americans to play fair, lets start with out own issues and solve them.


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