Touring nightmare: US 250% visa increase could stop majority of artists touring America

Musicians are facing a touring nightmare, after it has emerged that the US immigration service plans to up their visa fees from $460 (£385) to $1,615 (£1,352).

The 250 per cent increase will affect thousands of artists and bands who plan to do promotional tours in the states, but are unable to justify or afford the fees.

The Music Management Forum (MMF) and the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) told The Guardian that the cost of touring has already increased by 40 per cent as a result of Brexit, the pandemic and inflation - but now, things are about to get even worse.

According to the MMF’s chief executive,  Annabella Coldrick, 84 per cent of their members had acts intending to tour the US, but 70 per cent of those said they would not be able to if the increase goes ahead, reports The Guardian.

Another 20 per cent of those who had intent to tour said they would have to delay their plans.

The new changes mean that even those who are invited on major support tours, or festival slots may have to turn down those opportunities because of the expense incurred.

The MMF and the FAC have now relaunched their Let the Music Move campaign, which began in 2021, aimed at tackling the issues caused by Brexit rules which made it near impossible for transport companies to move equipment for musicians.

Speaking to NME, the CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition David Martin said: “Following a global pandemic, Brexit and the ongoing cost of living crisis, the proposals represent yet another barrier that will see emerging artists disproportionally disadvantaged, but that also risk ending US touring for more established acts.

 (Getty Images for iHeartRadio)
(Getty Images for iHeartRadio)

“It would be a seismic blow to the UK’s beloved music industry which, since 2015, has seen a 30 per cent decline in its global market share,” he added.

Lead singer of UK band Easy Life, Murray Matravers, who had to cancel their forthcoming US tour due to costs, also spoke to the publication.

“We just couldn’t afford it – it’s literally as simple as that,” he said.

“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.”