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The regulations require that any venue with a primary business other than music but which also books bands or performers must now pay an application fee of $275 per musician and those travelling with the band (tour manager, sound person, guitar tech, etc.) when it applies for a Labour Market Opinion, or LMO, to allow those outside workers to perform and work in their establishment. That’s also in addition to an extra $150 for each approved musician and crew member’s work permit.Prior to the changes, the fee was simply $150 per band member, maxing out at $450, and that was a one-time fee for them to simply enter the country, which allowed venue owners across Canada to share the nominal cost or book them separately at no extra charge.Spencer Brown, the longtime booker for downtown venue The Palomino — which hosts a mix of local, national and out-of-country acts — was surprised by the changes, saying there was “no consultation, no warning, nothing of the sort,” and only learned of them when an agency he works with “called him in a panic” at the beginning of the month in regards to an upcoming show.
“If I have a one four-member American band at the Palomino, I’m looking at $1,700 Canadian just to get them on the bill — and that’s on top of paying out a sound tech, paying for posters, gear rental, paying the other bands, staffing,” Brown says, explaining there have been tweaks to the LMO in the past, but nothing this drastic or, in his eyes, damaging.“Concert promotion at this level is, in itself, a high-risk occupation. So this has just put it through the roof. There’s no way to start already $1,700 in the hole and break even. It’s impossible.”
In 1948 the Polish born British anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski published a book on a study he conducted of the fishermen of the Trobriand Islands. Sometimes they fished in an inner lagoon, where fishing was pretty predictable. Every time they fished there, they got pretty much the same kind of catch. But they also fished in the open ocean, where the fish were bigger and harder to catch. Sometimes people would get great catches, and other times, terrible ones. The lure of the very rare great catch proved too tempting for the Trobrianders, so they ventured into the open ocean despite the odds—and developed a set of superstitions. These included rituals performed during fishing and the casting of magic spells.The circumstance dictated the explosion of rituals. We might think this is a completely human adaptation. But it turns out that the tendency to resort to ritual in an effort to manage a challenging situation isn’t exclusive to humans. In the same year that Malinowski published his experiment, American psychologist B. F. Skinner found that he could generate superstitious behavior in pigeons. He taught pigeons to press down on a bar in exchange for food. All animals can learn to do this, and this learning process is called reinforcement. But an interesting thing happens if the food is given at random intervals—that is, pressing the bar sometimes does, and sometimes does not, produce a treat, with no discernable pattern. Under these conditions, but not under reliable conditions, the pigeon will start repeating arbitrary, idiosyncratic behaviors before pressing the bar. It might bob its head, or turn around twice. The pigeon becomes superstitious.