Tumbling loonie is making things very difficult for Canadian music festivals

January 25, 2016

The loonie is at a pretty abysmal low right now. It’s affecting absolutely everything, of course, like groceries and travel, but some effects of our dwindling national currency might not be as obvious.

Because Canadian music festivals so often bring in outside talent, they’ve got some pretty big issues to face in 2016. Booking big acts for big festivals is going to cost a lot more, while raising ticket prices might quickly discourage potential buyers who now have a lot less expendable income. It’s not like festival tickets are especially cheap in the first place, and have you ever bought a beer at one? Somehow Molson tastes even worse when it’s $10 a can.

Calgary and Edmonton festivals have already been the subject of a couple news stories, and the subject is likely to come up again and again through 2016 unless the loonie miraculously rights ship in the next couple months.

One of the main problems is that, while of course American acts get paid in American dollars, so do the majority of international acts, which means that a huge chunk of a festival’s programming needs to be paid a lot more (around 30% if the loonie stays as is) than usual just to bring their fees up to normal.

It’s affected, and will continue affecting venue operators and talent buyers as well, who’ve seen fewer American acts come through their doors. What might be good news—for local artists, anyway—is that the whole situation may push festivals into booking a higher percentage of Canadian acts. The big question right now, though, is who else but Osheaga is going to pony up the cash to get Radiohead?


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About the Author

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is a writer and photographer. Born and raised on the Prairies in Winnipeg, he’s slowly made his way farther and farther east, spending a few years covering music in Toronto before running clear out of country and ending up on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. In between, he’s made numerous detours, interviewing and photographing countless artists across North America and beyond. He heads up Amplify’s Instrumental series, where he talks with musicians about the relationships they’ve formed with their most important tools.

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