A Passerby looks at show times and prices in front of The Danforth Music Hall

Toronto concerts face dilemma due to weak loonie

Foreign artists are becoming an expensive commodity at Toronto concert halls as organizers struggle to cover the costs with the weakening Canadian dollar.

International artists are paid in US dollars for their performances within Canada and the US dollar is growing increasingly expensive relative to the Canadian dollar. Toronto shows will take a hit in revenue unless they can compensate for the exchange disparity.

They’re the dog and we’re the tail, but I hope it doesn’t; I hope we can have our own identity.

—Jay Cianfrini

Tim Inceoglu, talent buyer for the Adelaide Hall, says the weak dollar is impacting the talent being booked.

“For us having to pay American artists, it would obviously hinder some of the ability to purchase artists and bring them over the border,” said Inceoglu.

Despite the difficulties, ticket prices have not yet been raised in direct reaction to the weak loonie.

“It’s killing us right now,” said Gerald Belanger, organizer of the Toronto K-Pop Convention taking place in May.

“The majority of the people buying our tickets are Canadians, and I wouldn’t want to punish them for the low Canadian dollar.”

However, there is a bright side for concert organizers, who are attracting another market from across the border.

“For Canadian events looking to bring in American tourists it’s a definite plus,” said Belanger. “We’re using the low loonie as an advertising pitch for the fans.”

The Loonie Explained

Past trend: Dropped from ¢85 to ¢68
Reason: Low oil price
Short-term projection: ¢72 to ¢75
Long-term projection: ¢60 or less
Impact on Canadians: Increased inflation and living expenses
Control Strategies: Raise interest rate

Source: Jared Liu, Investment Expert at BMO

Ticket prices and the cost of living in Canadian dollars are lower when converted to US dollars than they would be in the US, so for American fans who want to see a featured artist, a trip up North becomes a possibility.

“The drop in Canadian dollar did help my decision to go to Toronto K-Pop Convention,” said Youa Lo, who is travelling from the U.S. to attend the concert. “It made travel more affordable and if there was no drop in the Canadian dollar I don’t think I would go.”

According to Jay Cianfrini, assistant manager of the Danforth Music Hall, currently 80 per cent of artists booked at the Danforth Music Hall are foreign artists, and all are paid in US dollars.

Cianfrini said he has observed an influx of American visitors making weekend trips to the Danforth Music Hall.

“The promoter and the agents have definitely started to notice that. It’s inevitable.”

While it hasn’t facilitated the crossing over of artists as it has done with fans, the Canadian dollar hasn’t quite posed an impenetrable barrier for international artists either.

“You’ll find a way, you’ll always find a way,” Inceoglu said. “Collectively we’ll find a way to make shows incredible. The Canadian government is doing a good job of trying to open up doors and allow foreign artists to come in a bit easier.”

Even still, a concert for an international artist in Vancouver has started listing their ticket prices in US dollars and it remains yet to be seen whether that practice will gradually find its way over to Toronto.

“They’re the dog and we’re the tail, but I hope it doesn’t. I hope we can have our own identity,” Cianfrini said.