Relax Folks — American acts are still coming over the border!

A few days ago, in the midst of my move, outrage broke out over the new border laws related to American and other international artists crossing the border to play Canadian shows.

In the past the law was set to charge $150 per band member, up to a maximum of $450, to come into the country to play shows. Under the new rules, that charge would skyrocket to $275 per band member, without a cap in sight. This began with an article written in the Calgary Herald–which while informative, was at best poorly researched and at worst grossly misleading. 

When my good friend Jimmy Cain of Champion Lover posted the article on his Facebook page and tagged my friends and me in it, my immediate comment then was: “Be interesting to see how this plays out. Most venues haven’t even been paying the old fee with exemptions.”

Today, in talking to a band I have coming over the border later this month and assuring them it was all systems go despite the new law, we came across this article, which essentially confirms my above quote. 

Music-exempt venues are still music-exempt venues. If you are a venue grinding it out all year every year doing nothing but booking live music to make your ends meet, then you don’t have to worry about the new fees. If you are a venue trying to have your cake and eat it too, so to speak, then you are in a different situation. And even then, you can get around it by joining the American Federation of Musicians for less than the cost of one member of a band crossing the border to play one show per year. Or by having an agent book an entire tour, that agent only has to pay the fee once upfront for all of the shows.

In other words: relax, folks. I get that it’s hard not to get reactionary when seeing huge numbers being bandied about in our music industry, but it’s always wise to do some fact checking and not rely on one article in Calgary for all of your information. As Dan Burke says in the linked article, “Its business as usual here.” Personally, I have been booking American bands for years and will continue to do so. Pass it on.


Dan Wolovick


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