Live Music

US visa price hikes could make international touring difficult

Featured image credit: Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

Artists and those in the music industry have discussed the damage that will be done to international touring, should a 260% price hike for US visas be allowed to proceed.

It was recently revealed that the US Department of Homeland Security was planning to increase touring visa fees for foreign acts by more than 250%. This would mean the cost of acts arriving in the US to perform temporarily would increase from $460 (£384/€435) to $1,615, and a longer term work visa would soar from $460 to $1,655. 

Frontman of band Easy Life, Murray Matravers, told NME that the band had to cut their upcoming tour in the US due to “insane costs”. These cancellations took place even before the proposed visa price hike. 

He said: “We just couldn’t afford it – it’s literally as simple as that. We’ve done a proper tour of the US once before with a little pretend tour before that, all pre-COVID. It’s all changed so much. The cost of visas is crazy, you have to hire a legal representative to do all the forms and their fees have gone right up.”

Bassist for Primal Scream, DJ and radio host Simone Marie Butler also told NME that the price rises would have a major impact on new and emerging artists. She said: “The proposed 260% price increase for work visas will be prohibitively expensive for new and emerging bands, as well as small to medium artists and above too. 

“Many bands simply can’t go over because financially it won’t work unless they are prepared to make a loss. The increase of such a large amount seems unprecedented and unrealistic.”

David Martin, chief executive of non-profit organisation Featured Artists Coalition, agreed that British artists needed the US market to help the growth of their career, and making it more difficult to tour there would be detrimental. If the price hikes went ahead, tickets would have to become more expensive as well. 

He told NME: “The US is the world’s largest music market, access to which is critical for the growth of British artists’ careers. The success of our recorded music sector is intrinsically linked to artists’ ability to perform live and develop fan bases. Furthermore, the cultural exchange that touring permits is immeasurably important. It is why we support mechanisms that enable foreign artists, including those from the US, to perform in the UK without the need for any visa or cost.”

Music fans and those working in the industry are able to oppose the move until March 6, via the Federal Register website.