“Over the Border and into the Clubs”
Canadian Indie Music Makes a Sound Case for Reciprocity
For immediate release
(Monday, April 18, 2016 – Edmonton/Toronto): The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) today releases a new cultural industries report that illustrates the opportunities and challenges that exist for Canadian musicians seeking to play shows and do business in the United States. The report calls on fairness and reciprocity when it comes to US immigration and tax policies as they relate to Canadian artists.
Over the Border and Into the Clubs: Canada’s Independent Music Industry and the US Market quantifies the risks, costs and difficulties that impact Canadian artists who seek to promote their music in the United States. The report explores how Canadian independent musicians face considerable barriers to performing, touring and promoting themselves south of the border. These include: problems with obtaining visas and completing other paperwork, high withholding taxes that limit capital for funding tours, and behind-the-border issues (such as the regulation and infrastructure of the music sector) that increase lost opportunity costs.
“International expansion is key to the growth and development of a large number of successful Canadian independent music companies,” says CIMA President Stuart Johnston. “The challenges of accessing markets such as the United States, however, can be many. Getting across the border is not always efficient, in no small part because of the costs, complications and unclear procedures associated with the existing visa system. There can also be a significant impact on our artists’ and their business representatives’ cash flow resulting from the United States’ inflated withholding tax policies.”
“This is a major challenge for Albertan artists and their teams. The process is expensive, convoluted and inconsistent. In many cases, US tours get cancelled due to the process taking too long, even when artists have given more than enough time for the process to take place.”
Chris Wynters, Executive Director, Alberta Music
With support from the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), CIMA commissioned the Centre for Trade Policy and Law (CTPL) at Carleton University to conduct an economic and policy analysis of the value of the US market for Canadian musicians, as well as the volume of Canadian artists who perform annually in US venues. The report provides industry members with specific policy recommendations to improve both labour mobility and tax penalties for Canadian musicians and their domestic business representatives.
Over the Border makes a compelling case for why American policies ought to be changed to encourage: a) equal treatment for Canadian musicians travelling to the United States, b) reciprocity with respect to taxes, and c) the promotion of independent music as part of a federal government trade strategy.
Key findings from Over the Border:
• Red tape at the border keeps Canadian music out of the United States
• The Canadian market is small and Canadian companies believe it is important to access American audiences
• Canadians want to expand and invest south of the border but face obstacles, despite existing trade agreements
• Over 60% of Canadian firms said the time and money they spend on border-related processes is burdensome
• Work permits can be hard to obtain, and excessive taxation of revenue can create major cash flow difficulties
• This is especially prejudicial for small companies, who make up a majority of the Canadian music industry
• Music is a global export, meaning that greater labour mobility is conducive to a healthier, vibrant music industry
A copy of the report, Over the Border and Into the Clubs: Canada’s Music Industry and the US Market, can be found at www.cimamusic.ca and can be downloaded HERE
“I welcome the leadership that CIMA is taking in tackling the US border issue for Canadian touring musicians. For years my company and the artists that we manage have faced tremendous expense and logistical challenges in getting across the border to work in the United States. Having recently eased the restrictions for American artists to come and tour in Canada, it is time for our American cousins to reciprocate.”
Ian McKinnon, President, GroundSwell Music
Representing Artists: Carleton Stone, Hillsburn, Rawlins Cross, The Mike Bochoff Band, The Stanfields, The Town Heroes
“Border issues are a huge barrier for Canadian artists trying to develop international careers. The current process costs thousands of dollars, and takes months. Meanwhile, American artists can cross into Canada to play shows with no visa required at all. This is important work that CIMA and others are undertaking to create a more equitable situation for our artists.”
Shauna de Cartier, Founder and President, Six Shooter Records
Representing Artists: Amelia Curran, The Beauties, C & C Surf Factory , Christine Fellows, Danny Michel, The Deep Dark Woods, Del Barber, The Good Lovelies, Harlan Pepper, Hawksley Workamn , Henry Wagons, Jenn Grant, Joe Nolan, Luke Doucet, Nick Buzz, Mary Gauthier, Melissa McClelland, NQ Arbuckle, Sam Outlaw, Shakey Graves, The Strumbellas, Tanya Tagaq, Trampled By Turtles, The Wet Secrets, Whitehorse, Whitney Rose
“The creative arts and cultures are enriched by the free exchange of ideas. Canada and the U.S. have a storied history of such exchanges. CIMA's thoroughly researched report, "Over the Border and into the Clubs: Canada’s music industry and the US market," is an excellent justification and roadmap for the optimization of these business and artistic interchanges.”
Richard James Burgess Ph.D., CEO, American Association of Independent Music (A2IM)
“As a manager who understands the importance of the US market, in terms of the growth and success of Canadian artists at all levels, I fully support the recommendations contained in this report. Allowing Canadians easier to access the US market makes sense both culturally and economically, on both sides of the border. The visa issue alone has cost us countless opportunities over the years. I look forward to the day when Canadian artists can respond to US performance opportunities quickly and confidently.”
Nick Blasko, Co-Founder, Managing Director, Amelia Artists Inc.
Representing Artists: Flash Lightnin’, Luluc, Tegan & Sara, The Funk Hunters, Tyson Motsenbocker
“The US market represents a third of the world’s music sales, it’s English speaking and it’s driving distance from Canada. So, that makes it important to the survival and growth of Canadian music companies. Touring is one of the major sources of revenue for both the artists and the music companies overseeing their careers. Canadian musicians should be able to access the US market with the same ease that US musicians can access Canada, and without the current restrictions and costs inherent in obtaining work visas. It can be costly and take anywhere from 45 to 100 days. US federal and state withholding taxes are another source of frustration for Canadian companies with artists touring the US. The process for Canadian artists wishing to mitigate federal withholding taxes needs to be streamlined and simultaneous taxing by the IRS and state tax boards needs to be eliminated.”
Graham Stairs, President, Popguru Sound & Vision Ltd. and Shadow Cabinet Music Group Ltd.
Representing Artists: Chloe Kirson-Jones, Grand Analog, Lake Forest, Mark Gane, Martha & The Muffins, Martha Johnson, Matthew Fudge, Pyramid Tropic, Red Horse Rebellion, The Wilderness of Manitoba
“Canada’s wealth of professional musicians, in all genres of the music industry, offer both economic and cultural benefits to our United States neighbours. The Canadian Federation of Musicians worked with CIMA representatives as a participant in the study leading to this report, and we greatly value the vast research efforts CIMA put into the compilation of this comprehensive report. The report and corresponding efforts are complementary to initiatives recently taken by the AFM [CFM’s parent organization] in partnership with many other United States based cultural unions and arts organizations, in a collaborative success gaining bipartisan support for the introduction into US Senate of the ARTS and BEATS Acts, which are aimed at streamlining the process for musicians to perform in the US.“
Liana White, Executive Director, Canadian Federation of Musicians
“With over 10 years experience filling out visa applications for the artists we work with, developing artists or established artists, I still can’t rely on the results and find that extremely frustrating when working towards building artists' careers internationally. Changes to immigration procedures at the US border will ultimately benefit both the Canadian and US music industries.”
Lisa Logutenkow, Vice President, Dine Alone Records/Bedlam Music Management
Representing Artists: …And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Aero Flynn, Alberta Cross, Alexisonfire, At The Drive-In, Attack in Black, Avenue, Billy Bragg, Black Mountain, BR/DGES, Brendan Philip, BRONCHO, Chuck Ragan, City and Colour, Craig Finn, Dave Monks, Delta Spirit, Diarrhea Planet, Dicey Hollow, Dune Rats, DZ Deathrays, Eagulls, Elliot Moss, FIDLAR, Field Report, Fine Points, Fireside, Fly Golden Eagle, FREEMAN, Gateway Drugs, Grade, Hannah Georgas, HBS, Heartless Bastards, Helicon Blue, Hey Rosetta!, Heyrocco, High Ends, Ivan & Alyosha, James Vincent McMorrow, JEFF The Brotherhood, Jimmy Eat World, k-os, Kate Nash, Kopecky, Langhorne Slim & Law, Lieutenant, Little Scream, Lucius, Marilyn Manson, Matthew Logan Vasquez, Miami Horror, Moneen, Monster Truck, Music Band, Neverending White Lights, Noah Gundersen, Oh Pep!, PHOX, RNDM, Rumba Shaker, Say Yes, Sego, Shovels & Rope, Single Mothers, Sleepy Sun, Solids, Spanish Gold, Spencer Burton, Streets of Laredo, Swervedriver, Sylvan Esso, The Amazing, The Cult, The Dandy Warhols, The Dirty Nil, The Dodos, The Jezabels, The Lumineers, The Sheepdogs, The Wytches, Tokyo Police Club, Twin Forks, Vanessa Carlton, Vanishing Life, Violent Soho, Walter Schreifels, Wild Child, Wintersleep, You+Me, Yukon Blonde
"In this challenging marketplace for musicians trying to find a sustainable business model, export to our neighbours in the south is a necessity. At present, wait times that don't mirror the pace of realistic bookings, giant expediting fees and hefty penalties are proving prohibitive to performing in the United States. Canadian musicians are thereby losing the opportunity to showcase Canadian talent abroad and expand in new markets. There is much economic evidence that cross border music tourism helps everyone. Canada has recognized this and has created welcoming regulations for US musicians traveling north. It is time this gesture was reciprocated.”
Miranda Mulholland, Artist (Great Lake Swimmers, Harrow Fair, Belle Starr); Owner, Roaring Girl Records
Representing Artists: Belle Starr, Benjamin Hermann, Harrow Fair, Kevin Hearn, Miranda Mulholland, Patricia O'Callaghan, Sean Watkins, Tim Moxam
“The current requirements for getting visas are extremely cumbersome and many times unrealistic from a processing time standpoint. This ultimately creates a scenario where the costly expedited process is the only option, and these costs can be a massive hit to a young band trying to break into the US market. Having these requirements eased, and timelines shortened, will go a long way toward the development of Canadian artists into proper exportable talent.”
Chris Moncada, General Manager, Last Gang Records
Representing Artists: A-Trak, A.C. Newman, Astrocolor, Bear Mountain, Boys Noize, Chromeo, Crystal Castles, Dark Horses, Datsik, Death From Above 1979, Dirty Ghosts, Egyptrixx, Electric Youth, Emily Haines, Fan Death, Fur Trade, Gazelle Twin, Harrison, Hiawatha, Holy Fuck, Hot As Sun, Huoratron, JOOJ, k-os, Kay, Leisure Cruise, Let’s Go To War, Lights, Lindi Ortega, Metric, Mixhell, Modern Superstitions, Moon King, Mother Mother, MSTRKRFT, Nico Yaryan, Ohbijou, Operators, Purity Ring, Rush Midnight, Ryan Hemsworth, Sebastien Grainger, Seoul, Silver Starling, Soundtracks, Terry Lynn, The New Pornographers, Tiga, We Are Enfant Terrible, Wold & Cub
Established in 1975, CIMA is the not-for-profit national trade association representing the English-language, Canadian-owned segment of the music economy. CIMA advocates for a diverse membership consisting of Canadian-owned companies and their representatives, representing every facet of Canada’s music, sound recording and music-related industries.
Jonathan MacKenzie, CIMA
Tel. (416) 485-3152 ext. 223
Chris Wynters, Alberta Music
Tel. (780) 428-3372
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