American Policies Make It Difficult for Canadians to Tour Stateside, New Study Finds

Canada Border Crossing Biz 2016
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The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) has released a new study on the challenges musician face crossing into the United States for business, such as difficulties obtaining visas and high withholding taxes, and makes specific recommendations to counter what its authors imply is an imbalanced system.

The 74-page "Over The Border And Into The Clubs: Canada’s Independent Music Industry And The US Market" was prepared by Carlton University’s Centre for Trade Policy and Law (CTPL) in Ottawa, Ontario, with the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC).

CIMA commissioned the trade policy institution to “survey the independent music industry, build an economic argument for facilitating export of Canadian music and music business to the United States, and offer policy recommendations on how to get Canadian musicians -- and Canadian-owned music businesses -- over the border and into the clubs in a more timely and effective fashion,” it reads in the executive summary.

The CTPL surveyed 177 members of the music industry, including artists, artist managers, booking agents, and label personnel with further in-person interviews conducted with a “targeted section” of CIMA members and “broader industry,” the report says.

“International expansion is key to the growth and development of a large number of successful Canadian independent music companies,” CIMA President Stuart Johnston said in a statement. “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.”

Based on the premise that a world without borders is good for art and business, the report begins by summarizing Canada’s contribution to the music market. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) placed Canada as the world’s 7th largest music market, with 2014 revenues from recorded music at $342.5  (CAD) million.  A 2013 study, Sound Analysis, valued the independent sector’s annual contribution to GDP as more than $300 million.

Key findings include:

-- Canadians want to expand and invest south of the border but face obstacles, despite existing trade agreements.
-- Over 60 percent 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.
-- Music is a global export, meaning that greater labor mobility is conducive to a healthier, vibrant music industry.

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