September 25, 2020

Musicians And Fans The Big Losers As U.S. Raises Visa Prices For Touring Artists

The current U.S. administration is raising the rate of touring visas according to a story from Will Lavin in NME published today

NME Music News, Reviews, Videos, Galleries, Tickets and Blogs | NME.COMVisa fees for foreign artists touring the US to increase by over 50%

The increase, announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will impact the P and O visas. The cost of filing for an O visa, generally given to those deemed to have “Extraordinary  Ability or Achievement,” will increase by a staggering 53 percent, from $460 to $705. And the P visa, which is also available to family members of the touring acts, will be nearly as much, going up to $695.

The increases will take effect October 2, or a month before the U.S. elections November 3. With the price raises also comes a longer processing time, of 15 days, but that can be fast tracked for over $1000.

In the NME article, David Martin, general manager of the Featured Artist Coalition, said, “It is incredibly disappointing to hear the latest news of increased fees and more bureaucracy for foreign artists travelling to the US.

“The US visa system is already prohibitive for UK artists and this change will see even more of our globally renowned talent shut out. Not only will the US live circuit suffer with millions of American fans missing the chance to see their favorite British artists, artists will lose the opportunity to collaborate and exchange ideas with creators on the opposite side of the Atlantic.”

Martin added, “At a time when we should be celebrating and building on our shared history of cultural exchange, this development instead moves us further apart. There are no winners.”

The increase from the U.S. comes after the U.K. declared that beginning in 2021 non U.K. artists must have a visa to perform there and prove they have a savings close to £1000 so they can sustain themselves while traveling there. The tier 5 visa costs £244.

Whether the two governments are playing politics or not, the timing could not be worse as musicians and the industry as a whole are suffering from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and basically a lost year of touring.

While the dueling visa costs likely won’t affect top tier stars who want to tour post Covid up and coming acts on both sides of the Atlantic will likely pay the price, metaphorically, for the increase from the two governments.

Just remember at one point Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, U2, Oasis and countless more were up and coming acts just trying to find an audience in the U.S. clubs. Elton John just celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the show at L.A.’s iconic Troubadour that launched his career. One wonders if he or the label would’ve paid the fees to bring him over with little following.

The importance of overseas touring works both ways. One only needs to think about Jimi Hendrix breaking overseas first, or the love that was shown to Tom Waits and Miles Davis overseas. One can go back and listen to Bruce Springsteen’s monumental 1975 Live At The Hammersmith Odeon to remember how important those shows were to his career.

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