President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days has deeply complicated plans already in motion involving sectors of the U.S. music industry that work with those countries. Not only has the ban -- which includes Iran, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan -- restricted the movement of those traveling into or out of the United States, but American labels and managers are scrambling to protect artists vulnerable to Trump’s policy.
The annual South by Southwest festival, which takes place in March and is thus within that 90-day period, was quick to denounce the edict. “We are working to understand how the ban will impact our participants and how we can use our voice to support those directly affected by this executive order,” reads its statement, which also notes that the ban flies in the face of the mission of the festival, which brings more than 2,000 artists to Austin -- nearly 600 of whom are international acts -- each year. “Participation... from around the world is crucial to the creative mix of ideas that makes our event meaningful.”
Already it has forced one SXSW artist, Raam Emami, the Iranian musician behind the rock project King Raam, to cancel his appearance at the festival. “I am terrified to come to the U.S.A. to be detained and ridiculed at the border,” he told Billboard in an email. “This is not the America that people dream about coming to anymore.”