It Might Get a Lot More Expensive For Overseas Artists to Tour the U.S.

It's already a tough time for live music; this could make it tougher

Big Joanie
Estella Adeyeri, Chardine Taylor-Stone, and Stephanie Phillips of Big Joanie perform onstage at BBC Music during 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals on March 19, 2022.
Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW

For artists playing arenas and basements alike, the last few years have provided existential challenges to the time-honored tradition of getting on the road and touring. The uncertain landscape left in the wake of the pandemic has left a number of musicians wrestling with mental health concerns; venues across the country have also shuttered. In a recent Substack article, writer and musician Damon Krukowski noted the phenomenon of cover bands playing prominent venues in numerous cities — something that would have been hard to imagine before the pandemic.

It’s a challenging time for artists and concertgoers alike. So why is the U.S. government apparently seeking to make things even harder for a significant number of artists with planned tours?

As an article in Far Out reveals, the Department of Homeland Security proposed significant increases in the cost of the visas that touring musicians use when they come to the U.S. The article cites a proposed hike in the cost of a P visa from $460 to $1,615.

As someone with tickets to see several U.K.-based artists in the coming months — including caroline and Big Joanie, both of whom are highly recommended — this raises questions on whether or not these artists would even be touring the U.S. if increased visa costs were implemented. Canada’s The Weather Station has pushed for greater awareness of these potential costs via social media, directing Americans to publicly comment on the proposal.

It’s hard to see who benefits here. For a live music industry that’s already facing existential threats, this feels like one more insurmountable obstacle. And it’s not hard to imagine that, should the higher costs be implemented, some artists would simply opt out of touring or dramatically raise ticket prices as a result — neither of which seems ideal.

The government is still accepting comments on the proposal, however – those with strong feelings on the subject can do so until March 6 of this year.

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