17 March 2023


  • The legendary British band show support for the #LetTheMusicMove campaign at SXSW following their headline appearance at Moody’s Theatre 
  • Controversial Department of Homeland Security proposals to increase visa costs by over 250% would burden international artists with thousands of pounds in additional costs – making touring unaffordable in the world’s biggest music market
  • More than 150 British artists and bands are currently performing at SXSW in Austin, Texas – the world’s preeminent showcase festival of new music – the largest delegation ex-USA

Iconic Manchester band New Order are the latest artists to call on the US Government to rethink stratospheric increases in visa costs for international musicians. 

Under proposals made by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the filing fees attached to specific visa applications, including O and P artists  – which already run into thousands of pounds – would increase by more than 250%.  

In the midst of the ongoing cost of living crisis and with the live sector still recovering from the impacts of COVID-19, it would make performing in the world’s biggest music market unaffordable for many emerging and mid-level artists. 

Joining the likes of Rina Sawayama and Howard Jones, as well as members of Hot Chip, IDLES, Steam Down and Primal Scream, New Order added their support to the #LetTheMusicMove campaign following a headline SXSW appearance on Monday evening (13th) at Moody’s Theatre and a keynote interview on Wednesday (15th) 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. 

Originally instigated by the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and Music Managers Forum (MMF) to fight for reductions in post-Brexit costs for touring in Europe, #LetTheMusicMove was expanded following the DHS announcement made in April 2023.

Speaking out against the proposed cost increases, New Order said: 

“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.  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% 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. 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.”

Other bodies campaigning against the changes include the US Recording Academy, the Union of Musicians & Allied Workers, and Tamizadt, the non-profit organisation that facilitates and advocates for international artist mobility and cultural exchange.

With over 150 British artists and bands travelling to Austin, Texas for SXSW, the world’s preeminent showcase festival of new music, the timing of New Order’s endorsement is particularly significant. 

Excluding acts from the USA, Britain will have the biggest delegation of artists performing at official SXSW 2023 showcases. These include the likes of PinkPantheress, Yazmin Lacey, Sports Team, SIPHO, Miraa May, Hamish Hawk, The Goa Express, English Teacher, Crawlers and Brooke Combe. 

Many of the 35 artists who received PRS Foundation support to attend SXSW also gave their backing for #LetTheMusicMove in a specially convened photo shoot at the British Music Embassy. (See photo here. Credit: Thomas Jackson, Tynesight.)

Under the new DHS proposals, the US touring plans of many UK and international artists would be placed under threat. According to a survey of UK music managers and artists by the MMF and FAC,  70% said that the proposed increase in visa costs would make touring unviable in the USA. For the remainder, it is estimated that the increased costs would reduce any potential profits from touring by almost 40%.

Touring the US is already a hugely expensive and bureaucratic undertaking. Artists including Little Simz, Easy Life and Billy Nomates have all recently curtailed their North American touring plans citing excessive costs. 

Last month, music trade body UK Music, published a letter to Kemi Badenoch MP, Secretary of State for Business and Trade, urging the Government to intervene and support the livelihoods of British artists and music makers. 

Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive, MMF and David Martin, CEO, 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.” 

Artists, managers and music industry professionals wanting to voice their concerns about the DHS’s proposed visa changes and being encouraged to sign up to the #LetTheMusicMove campaign and then complete a short questionnaire that will be presented to the UK Government as we urge them to provide support for British artists. 

More than 1,000 artists originally backed the #LetTheMusicMove campaign, including Little Mix, Orbital, Olly Murs, Sampha, Sleaford Mods, Alison Moyet, Nubian Twist, Bicep, AlunaGeorge, Niall Horan, Wolf Alice, Annie Lennox, Biffy Clyro, IDLES, Poppy Ajudha, Radiohead, Anna Calvi, Skunk Anansie, Laura Marling, Faithless, Everything Everything, Graeme Park, Bob Geldof, Katie Melua, Editors, Mark Knopfler, Two Door Cinema Club, Mr Scruff, Kelli-Leigh, Ward Thomas, New Order, Rick Astley, Ghostpoet, Midge Ure, Glasvegas, Anna Meredith, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Nina Nesbitt, Keane, Erland Cooper, The Chemical Brothers, Matthew Herbert, Portishead, Blur’s David Rowntree, Gilles Peterson, Jack Garratt, Dave Okumu, Bill Ryder-Jones, Peggy Seeger, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason and many, many others.

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