Join the visa campaign here. This just the start of something.
Touring the USA is, of course, going to be expensive. Bu in 2016 it’s become an insane gamble.
And it’s all down to the cost of the visas.
A byzantine system that sees costs spiral up to £3/4/5000 sometimes to get a whole band visas is way out of reach for most bands.
Once you have paid the fees, the agents and the train fares etc to go for the one minute meeting at the American Embassy in London you are already flat broke before playing a note.
Then the wait starts…nearly every band reports to us of delayed visas, rebooked flights, lost gigs. The system is broken and to rub salt in the wound the American bands pay about £50 to come into the UK.
We need the Americans to take notice of this situation that is unfair, unworkable and shambolic.
The Musicians Union are trying to do something but frankly if the costs of applying for visas don’t come down then the situation for most UK bands will not change.
The sheer cost of the visas is prohibitive to most UK and European bands – £5000 per band with most of the money going to the process of getting the visas. The visas then get returned late in a chaotic system so gigs and flights have to be cancelled. Since we started the campaign we have had countless reports of bands of getting their expensive visas back late.
What was once at the heart of rock culture from the Beatles onwards is finally coming to an end because of the prohibitive costs, visa bills and taxes that cripple any touring UK band.
And that is heartbreaking because, of course, we love America.
The people, the culture, the food, the music, the landscape, the myth – the road in America is the bloodline of rock n roll with the endless 14 hour drives which are magical.
The people are fantastic. Their can do belief is inspring and their openess is wonderful. They don’t even know what is going on with the bands they want to see but soon will not be able to. America has always loved British bands – pretty soon they will have to eatch them on youtube only.
American music is totally entwined with ours and we love it.
For decades that cultural ping pong had been at the heart of modern culture.
But those days are about to end.
For British bands touring America has become a nightmare. An expensive battle with authorities who are cranking up what they charge for a band to even get into the USA to tour and hidden taxes which cripple the budget.
For a British band to tour America it costs 7000 dollars to even get into the place and the visas arrive so late so you have to cancel your flights and gigs and rebook everything losing money and gigs before you even get there. It’s an arcane, expensive and ridiculous system fraught with stress and hurdles. It doesn’t really help when you realise that American bands get into the UK for 50 dollars without any hassle – that’s a good thing – that’s how it should be. The Brits have called that one right. Culture should be able to move around the world and it should definitely be a fair and level playing field ina free market zone.
Many bands slip into the USA with holiday visas these days. Under the radar. But many are now getting caught. A quick google check at the airport sees all the tour dates pinging up and the luckless musician getting sent back home or even a ten year ban.
Even when you get here there are the taxes. 30 per cent of your gig fee is taken off you every night. Paying tax in a country you don’t even live in is strange and annoying and cripples the already decimated tour budget. don’t get me wrong – I’m happy to pay tax ina country I live in and vote in but everywhere I go?
In 2016 only the rich survive. Only the stadium bands like Radiohead can afford to tour America. Most British bands we know refuse to go ahead with it now, concentrating on the rest of the world.
These are the last days of British bands touring the USA.
And that’s a sad state of affairs for everyone.