You’re No Rock N Roll Fun: New Regulations Hurt Clubs And Venues

UPDATE: Whitworth here. There’s now a petition on  Back to Amber’s original post…


So, my ‘Facebook feed’ exploded with rage today after this article in the Calgary Herald shed light on some super un-cool employment regulations that went into effect on July 31st which would make it pretty much unfeasible for small venues and clubs to bring in out-of-country bands. Venues now have to pay an application of $250 for each touring member in a band, including managers and the like, on top of the $150 work permit that also needs to be secured for each individual.

Spencer Brown who books for the Palomino Smokehouse in Calgary explained it thusly:

“If I have a one four-member American band at the Palomino, I’m looking at $1,700 Canadian just to get them on the bill — and that’s on top of paying out a sound tech, paying for posters, gear rental, paying the other bands, staffing,” Brown says, explaining there have been tweaks to the LMO in the past, but nothing this drastic or, in his eyes, damaging.

“Concert promotion at this level is, in itself, a high-risk occupation. So this has just put it through the roof. There’s no way to start already $1,700 in the hole and break even. It’s impossible.”

Brown goes on to call the new regulations “anti arts and culture” and “anti small business”. Minister of Employment, Social Development & Multiculturalism Jason Kenney says that the decision was made after advance consultation with stakeholders across the country. Read the rest of the article here. 

Author: Amber Goodwyn

Amber Goodwyn is a Montrealer freshly moved to the prairies where she's found a home in journalism at Prairie Dog Magazine. A jack-of-all-trades, she hopes to master some (hell, any) of the following before she expires: writing, music making, filmmaking, DJing, Werewolves.

5 thoughts on “You’re No Rock N Roll Fun: New Regulations Hurt Clubs And Venues”

  1. I’m of at least two minds about this, so I’ll throw out a number of thoughts without a concrete thesis:

    1) Protectionist practices (specifically CanCon) are — in my mind — the reason why the Canadian music industry is not the joke that is the Canadian movie industry.*

    2) Incentivization almost always has better optics politically than the imposition of fees. (Sorry for the biz jargon, but sometimes it has value)

    3) The withdrawal of the exemptions for bars/clubs reeks of the morality police.

    4) Targeting bars/clubs is a de facto favouritization of certain genres of music (folk, pop, adult contemporary, arena rock) over others (classic rock, hip hop, electronica, indie rock).

    5) Regina venues that this is at least a little shitty for: O’hanlon’s, the Artful Dodger, the Pump. Regina venues favoured by this: the Exchange, the Artesian, the Casino.

    6) Obviously, the stadium and arena are served well, but the absolute number of events involved are inconsequential from a government revenue perspective.

    *There are a shit-ton of caveats here, including that I don’t have concrete (or even mushy) data comparing policies versus strength in various cultural media and that I draw a strong distinction between the production of talent in a sphere and the development of an actual industry in that sphere.

  2. On one hand, this may actually be good for local (or at least Canadian) bands…. if they are given a chance.
    On the other hand, this sucks for fans of non-Canadian, non-super-rich bands.
    From a venue point of view, it means some combination of:
    – jack up ticket prices
    – only book foreign bands if they are a guaranteed high draw
    – only book singer-songwriters, or one- or two-member bands
    – stop being a venue/promoter, because now booking relatively-known acts is too costly

    This is kind of your typical tax-that-isn’t-actually-called-a-tax (and oh by the way, it involves something that just gathers together the unsightly riffraff, where we would rather have a nice verizon store) that the Harper government employs because they don’t want “taxpayers” to get mad.

  3. Brad, how does this favour The Exchange or Casino Show Lounge? They both present a lot of bands from outside of Canada. The Casino stopped being a loss-leader venue a while ago and are expected to make a profit. This will definitely effect the bookings.

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