Once the 300% increase in the federal government’s visa fees for touring artists takes effect, the result will be higher ticket prices, smaller festivals and fewer tours. The increase in visa fees will affect musicians and their crew, gymnasts, actors and circus performers. However, the application fee for temporary work in Australia has been removed and the processing fee reduced from $380 to $275.
Small tours and small companies will enjoy an advantage but the effect will be different for large tours like the upcoming Gun and Roses that has total of 80 band members, crew and other personnel. The cost of their visa applications will increase from the previous $7,200 to $22,000. According to Michael Chugg, a veteran promoter, the move which is described as a “money grab” is bound to cripple the touring scene.
Chugg estimates that the CMC Rocks Festival will experience more than four times the previous visa fees. Festivals like Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival, Splendour in the Grass or St. Jerome’s Laneway that have 200 international acts can expect to pay from $7,200 to more than $50,000. Those who are buying tickets as prices will be among the victims because it is inevitable for ticket prices to rise.
LPA’s Richardson does not want ticket prices to rise because there is huge price sensitivity in the market and some promoters have already reached their cap. While certain acts will command a high price, there is huge price sensitivity in running a music festival and margins are not really that great.
Chugg has argued that instead of having 15 international acts at CMC Rocks, there will probably be four or five. People can also expect Blues Festival to be cut in half. This will affect venues, crews, service companies and support acts. Australians will be missing some young bands and promoters will think twice about everything.
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