Actually, it would hurt small clubs and promoters more. But work with us on this one.
By Fred Mills
One of the most intriguing, and controversial, music biz items to break today is NOT the Justin Timberlake/Maxwells concert/Target ad story (although that wrinkle that Yo La Tengo injected certainly made it a helluva lot more fun). No, it was the announcement by the Canadian government that if you are a working musician hoping to tour and play small venue concerts in Canada, it might cost you an additional $275 per gig and for each band member.
The calculation is “might” because that $275 fee, which came into effect July 31 and is separate from a previously-imposed $150 work permit, is technically imposed upon the person(s) employing you for your show—a club owner or booker. According to a report today at Canada’s The Star, “Every international musician hired to play at a bar, pub or restaurant in Canada must apply for a work permit. That application costs $150 and hasn’t changed. What has changed is that each ‘employer,’ usually the venue or the promoter depending on the agreement, now must also pay an extra $275 processing fee for each musician. The fee is for a labour market opinion, which looks at whether an employer could be hiring a Canadian instead of a temporary foreign worker.”
It’s no stretch to imagine how that promoter/club owner/”employer”would simply tack on the $275 to whatever charges he’s already levying, or deduct it from what you make at the gig.
As a result of the news, says The Star, “more than 68,000 people have signed an online petition asking Employment, Social Development and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney to exempt musicians.” Needless to say, there’s now a lot of conversation going back and forth between the organizers of the petition and Kenney’s office, so read the full article at the link provided above.
Meanwhile,the imagination does wander on a matter such as this… a heavy-touring indie band with a lot of members could effectively be crippled if it wanted to go to Canada. Hello-and Goodbye-Polyphonic Spree! Sad news for Canadian music fans. But hey, we could ship all the shitty singer-songwriters we have here in America northward, since their extra costs would only be for a single musician, and be rid of ‘em for months at a time…