Playing Canada is a real pain in the ass for American bands of the not-Metallica-sized variety. Fans of independent / underground music already know this. We hear about bands not being able to get past the border pretty much weekly, and it’s almost always for some ridiculously silly reason, like once upon a time one member of the band or the merch dude or the tour manager or whomever got a fifty dollar fine for smoking a joint. It actually really helps explain why Canada is such a nice place, but it also helps explain why Canada is such a boring place, and I imagine for Canadian fans this really sucks the big one, because one night you show up to see whatever band and oopsy they’re not playing.

Well, border patrol is about to become the least of musicians’ problems when attempting to play for Canadian fans.

According to the Calgary Herald, new federal regulations regarding the employment of foreign workers have upped the financial burden of playing Canada considerably:

“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.”

To break it down further, a few months ago, it would have cost $450 for a band touring with four members and no merch dude or tour manager or non-band-personnel of any kind to play Canada, but now it will cost $1,700 — nearly four times as much. (And, oh yeah, if your application is rejected, not only do you not get a refund, but you have to pay again when you re-apply.) And in case you’ve all somehow failed to notice, independent music isn’t exactly known for being the genre of the monied class. So while the new fees probably aren’t such a big deal if your band is fortunate enough to have a couple of platinum records under your belt, everyone else (read: 99% of all other bands) are more or less totally fucked.

It remains to be seen if this will actually lessen the number of shows non-Canadian bands play in Canada… but I don’t see how it could not.

- Tamarack

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