Published May 01, 2006Part-time bartender and DJ Adam Countryman started his career in music as an all-ages concert promoter and has recently worked as the underground hip-hop coordinator at the North By Northeast Music Festival. Currently at the Agency Group Canada, Adam works closely with bands such as Alexisonfire, Moneen, Bedouin Soundclash and the Weakerthans.
What are the most important things bands should know before heading out?
This is all serious stuff. It requires a lot of paperwork and a lot of patience. I suggest to young bands that their international touring be very well planned and calculated. You cant just come and go as you please. If an opportunity presents itself and you dont have the time to file proper paperwork, then youre paying for it. There is no hook-up or easy way in. If its not planned and organised it is really difficult to run around last minute and pull it together. Dont submit fake dates or phoney contracts. If you get caught you can be brought up on charges or be blacklisted from crossing the border for a minimum of five years.
Whats the skinny on taking merch into the States?
You must provide a merch manifest, a list of all your items, colour, sizes and prices. As you will be selling your merch in the U.S. or EU, it is subject to duty. You can acquire the services of a merchandising broker. They will negotiate on your behalf to get you a decent rate.
Is there anything bands can do to smooth things along at the border?
Dont fuck around. No drugs, no booze. Keep the van clean. Be polite and accommodating. Have all your paperwork organised, neat and presented in the most expensive duotang that Staples has to offer. You can have all the appropriate paper work to gain entry to the U.S. but if you rub the border official the wrong way, youre not getting in. Tours cancelled.
If we make money on the tour, do we have to pay tax on it?
If you are collecting income as a foreign entity in the U.S. or EU your gross earnings are subject to taxes. In the U.S. you need to obtain a federal tax ID number. If you dont have one, then your fees are subject to a 30 percent withholding tax. In the UK you must receive clearance from FEU (Foreign Entertainers Unit) or again your fees will be subject to withholding. Ideally you should obtain the proper foreign tax ID numbers and file a yearly tax return for that territory, although I have been told by some that there are treaties in place that allow you to go around this. Im not an expert in international tax law, so please contact your accountant or business manger to get the correct procedures.