CIMA Launches Report on US Border Policy and Music

Over the Border

“Over the Border and into the Clubs”
Red Tape at the Border Keeps Canadian Music out of the United States

(Monday, April 18, 2016 – Toronto): The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) has released a 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 for 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 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 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 difficult 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 can be downloaded here.

“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,” says Miranda Mulholland of the Great Lake Swimmers, Harrow Fair, Belle Starr and Roaring Girl Records.

“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.”

Over the Border makes a compelling case for why American policies ought to be changed to encourage:

  • Equal treatment for Canadian musicians travelling to the United States
  • Reciprocity with respect to taxes
  • The promotion of independent music as part of a federal government trade strategy.

“International expansion is key to the growth of Canadian independent music companies,” says CIMA President Stuart Johnston.

“Getting across the border is not always efficient, because of the costs, complications and unclear procedures associated with the existing visa system. The United States’ inflated withholding tax also creates cash flow problems for independent music companies.”

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.

Comments on the report from the Canadian Music Industry

“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
 

“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
 

“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
 

“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.
 

“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.
 

“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
 

“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, Owner – Roaring Girl Records
 

“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
 

Download Over the Border and into the Clubs: Canada’s Music Industry and the US Market.

About CIMA
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.

Media Contact:
Jonathan MacKenzie, CIMA
Tel. (416) 485-3152 ext. 223
Email: jonathan@cimamusic.ca
www.cimamusic.ca