New laws put Canada’s music scene in danger
Canada’s music scene is facing serious hurdles after changes to laws effecting foreign workers went into effect on July 31st. These new regulations, which increase the fees associated with importing international artists two, three, and even four times, have major implications for promoters, bookers, venues, and fans.
Any venue whose musical bookings are only side notes to their other endeavors are now obliged by law to pay a $275 application fee per artist and for every member the artist or band brings with them. This includes key personnel like tour managers, managers, lighting and sound crews, technicians etc. Previously there was a one-time fee of $150 per band member with a $450 max associated with bookings — this fee still stands in addition to the new ones. Furthermore, should an application request be denied, these fees are non-refundable.
Small businesses feel targeted but the Canadian government denies these claims citing several exceptions including “musicians in a band performing several tour dates in Canada,” and “musicians and buskers coming to Canada to perform in festivals.” However, to be eligible for these exemptions the artist must not perform in local bars or restaurants. The real kicker is venues whose sole purpose it is to put on concerts and larger festivals remain unaffected by the new regulations.
Spencer Brown, booking agent for a small downtown Calgary venue affected by the changes disagrees. “They are targeting the little guy, they’re targeting small venues, they’re targeting small business,” he says. “So, me, as the promoter at The Palomino, which will hold 200 people at the best of times, is paying out $425 per band member whereas a guy from a huge promotions company putting on a 20,000-seater for Elton John in the stadium is tax free,” he says.
How exactly the introduction of these regulations will play out remains unseen, but it’s fair to assume they will manifest themselves negatively. Booker’s and venues ability to choose artists will be limited and in turn, fans’ access to live performances will suffer. Smaller musicians will also feel the impact in that their ability to market themselves in Canada will see a downturn.
via: Montreal Gazzette