Regulation Lifting is Great News for the Live Music Industry


Canada’s live music industry recently heard great news with the announcement that the Canadian government is scrapping the unpopular “tour tax” on international performers performing at certain Canadian venues.

The “tour tax” was not a tax at all, but federal government regulation that made it more difficult for international artists to perform at small Canadian venues.  The regulation required the employer of international performing artists who were scheduled for shows in Canadian bars or restaurants to apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which verified that the artist was not taking a job that could have gone to a Canadian artist.

The LMIA (formerly LMO) process also came with a $275 fee for the musician and each band member, roadie, or other team member accompanying the musician on tour, which was borne by the venue hosting the artist.  The requirement that small venues pay hefty government processing fees in order to host international acts has been controversial since the implementation of the regulation.  In mid-June, the government announced that the fee associated with the LMIA would be raised to $1,000 per person, so small venues are fortunate that the LMIA requirement was lifted before this increased fee went into effect.

With the lifting of this regulation, international artists and the bar or restaurant they are playing no longer need to apply for an LMIA, placing these artists on the same plane as their counterparts who play larger concert venues.  Interestingly, international artists playing large venues were never required to apply for an LMIA, which led to criticism that the Canadian government was targeting small businesses with this policy.  This criticism was clearly felt by the government, who cited “consistent treatment of foreign artists, regardless of venue type” as one of the reasons for the new decision.

The change in regulation is excellent news for small venues such as bars and restaurants who want to host live musicians.  The change is also promising for live musicians, with Music Canada, the Canadian Independent Music Association, the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations and the Canadian Arts Presenting Association commending the government’s actions.  In a joint statement, the four organizations said that the lifting of the LMIA requirement will “dramatically improve the landscape for much of the live music community in Canada.”

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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