New Order join calls for government to scrap US visa changes

Bernard Sumner of New Order performing live on stage

New Order have backed the #LetTheMusicMove campaign against proposed changes to US visa rules that would impact touring artists.

Last month saw the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announce that it was planning to raise touring visa fees for foreign acts by more than 250 per cent.

The DHS said in its proposal that applications for a P visa, which is for acts arriving in the states to perform temporarily, would increase from the current rate of $460 (£375.23) to $1,615 (£1,317). Meanwhile, the longer-term O work visa would jump from $460 (£375.23) to $1,655 (£1,349).

Numerous musicians have since spoken out against the plans, saying that it would be “a huge hardship to pay such high visa fees”. However, the DHS claimed that the increases are required due to high demand and insufficient staff at the Citizenship and Immigration department.

Recently, Leicester band Easy Life were forced to cancel their US tour due to “some insane costs”. Frontman Murray Matravers was among the artists to speak to NME about the issue, explaining how “bleak” a picture there already was without the “crippling” visa price hike.

Following a headline performance at SXSW in Austin, Texas on Monday (March 13), New Order criticised the visa proposal and highlighted the importance of being able to tour in the US and Canada.

New Order
New Order perform at SXSW CREDIT: Tim Mosenfelder

“The influence of New York club culture has been pivotal to the evolution of New Order, from our initial shows at legendary long-lost venues like Tier 3, Hurrah and the Peppermint Lounge to our recent arena tour with the Pet Shop Boys,” the Manchester band said in a statement.

“Being able to perform to North American audiences has been absolutely crucial to us as a band. It’s also why we share the concerns of musicians around the world with these proposed visa increases for international artists. For a new band, a 250 per cent increase in visa costs, on top of all the other financial pressures facing artists right now, might be the final nail in the coffin for touring.”

They added: “Through our support of the #LetTheMusicMove campaign, we want the US Government to rethink these policy changes and look to alternative measures that encourage greater musical exchange, not less.”

Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive, Music Managers Forum (MMF) and David Martin, CEO, Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) said: “We are hugely grateful to New Order for their backing of the #LetTheMusicMove campaign to stop these hugely damaging proposals. That they have done so at SXSW is particularly pertinent.

“Excluding American acts, Britain has the biggest delegation of artists performing at official SXSW showcases. It is precisely these kinds of artists that will be forced to cancel their US touring plans if the DHS proposals come into effect.”

As well as taking to the stage at SXSW, New Order participated in a keynote interview on Wednesday (March 15) to launch Manchester’s upcoming Beyond The Music conference and festival, which aims to unify the global music industry to deliver an international strategy for music.

Frontman Bernard Sumner noted in the session how difficult it is for British musicians to be successful now thanks to streaming and young artists running into issues being able to travel abroad.

With Beyond The Music, the group aim to “help change and innovation in the music industry, particularly in mental health which is something close to our hearts”.

In a previous statement upon launching the #LetTheMusicMove campaign, the MMF and FAC said: “In the midst of the ongoing cost of living crisis and with the live sector still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19, [the US visa hike] would make performing in the world’s biggest music market unaffordable for many emerging and mid-level artists.”

The #LetTheMusicMove initiative was originally launched in 2021 to campaign for reductions in post-Brexit costs and red tape for UK artists and musicians when touring in Europe.

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