Music Analysis From a Modern Perspective
On July 31st 2013, new federal regulations came into effect that could greatly increase the cost of bringing foreign musicians / bands to Canada. These new regulations require certain venues (who are primarily not concert venues) to pay an application fee of $275 per musician and those travelling with the musician / band, to allow those musicians / workers to temporarily perform / work in their establishment. This application fee is in addition to the $150 work permit that is required for each musician and crew member. Previously, the only fee necessary was a one-time fee of $150 per musician (maxing out at $450 per band) that was essentially for allowing a musician / band to perform in Canada. There are several exemptions for music venues that eliminate the additional fees, such as when the musicians involved are performing on several dates in the country and when the musicians involved are visiting Canada to perform at a festival.
Unfortunately, while these regulations are an aspect of the broad Temporary Foreign Worker Program and were not designed to target the live music industry, many small venues will be greatly affected by them. In Toronto and the country’s other major urban centres, touring international artists usually play at specialized music venues, such as Lee’s Palace or the Horseshoe Tavern. However, these types of venues tend only to exist in major urban centres, because these cities are the only places that they can be sustainable in. Music venues certainly exist in smaller centres, but these venues often bring in (necessary) revenue from other streams too. Unfortunately, these restaurants, coffee shops (a longtime home of folk) and other kinds of businesses will now have to pay astronomical amounts to book international acts. With the rise of independent music culture, I have noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of international (especially American) musicians playing small and medium-sized Canadian cities over the past decade. However, it is generally far from lucrative for non-traditional venues to book international artists, especially because many of these places have small capacities, as they are rarely designed to be music venues. Essentially, many shows that may have potentially existed under the old regulations will just not happen, unless the new regulations are adjusted.
The Temporary Foreign Worker Program was obviously created to protect Canadian workers against temporary foreign workers. In this context, the revisions to this program do not make sense. While it varies depending on genre / location, there are no shortage of opportunities to perform for many Canadian musicians. Many specialized music venues actually sit empty many days of the week. The reality is that these revisions could not possibly result in Canadian musicians playing more shows or earning more money than they currently do. In fact, many Canadian musicians receive paid opportunities to support international artists on Canadian dates. Many international acts are major audience draws, which benefits the Canadian acts who support them greatly. Many Canadian musicians were also inspired or influenced by international artists. Ultimately, recent adjustments to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program can greatly hinder the ability of many (especially smaller) venues to bring international talent to Canadian audiences. I strongly believe that Canada’s borders should be open to music from all over the world, as that can only improve the thriving Canadian music scene.
This post was written by Scott