Finding funding for your music: guidelines from Musicians' Union
Blog by Musicians' Union under Finance, Law & Music Business, Music Training & Careers
Live performance offers little or no finance for bands and musicians who haven’t already achieved a level of fame, and with less money in the music industry, labels are more cautious than ever before signing artists. Finding funding is increasingly essential. So how do you make sure your funding search is a success?
Start your search
Musicians looking for funding will find sources ranging from the obvious (Arts Council England) to the more obscure (ESTA Nannie Jamieson Nutshell Fund, anyone?). A good starting point is to begin with three of the major funding sources for musicians in the UK: PRS for Music Foundation, Help Musicians UK and Arts Council England.
Between these three organisations, you can find a variety of schemes that fit with different ambitions you may have, from developing your music overseas to increasing an already burgeoning reputation or funding a new recording.
Once you’ve located sources of funding, choosing the right scheme for you or your band is the next step.
Meet the criteria
Competition is fierce – PRS for Music Foundation has seen a 10% increase year-on-year in applications for funding – and most funding awards have strict briefs. So it’s important to choose the right one and not to waste their, or your, time. If you aren’t sure if a funding opportunity is a good fit, you should always contact the funder and ask them about it.
Your application should be relevant, well presented, and include all the information asked for. It’s important to think about how you come across – this may be the funder’s first introduction to you or your band.
Make a clear plan, and remember you may need to get information from other people and/or organisations to support your application. So allow time to pull everything you need together.
You must proof the application thoroughly before submitting. Check for typos, broken links, and make sure all the numbers in the budgets add up.
Where you are asked to provide budgets, be economic and resourceful but don’t underestimate the true cost of resources or people’s skills.
If you’re hiring musicians as part of your project, use MU rates where applicable as these are widely recognised by funding assessors. You may also need to individually negotiate rates with artists, depending on their profile and expertise.
Be mindful that financial evidence will be required. It is often necessary to provide receipts and/or invoices for every financial transaction undertaken as part of a funded project. Bear this in mind when obtaining quotes and costings as part of your budgeting.
Get in touch
Looking for funding can be daunting – but it doesn’t have to be like that.
MU members can book a 1-2-1 advice session to talk about funding, where to look, and how to fill in an application, with one of our experts. To book a 1-2-1, or find out more about us, get in touch with your MU Regional Office via theMU.org.
Not a member? Full-time students can join for just £20 a year.
Read more funding advice in the Unsigned Guide’s free Essential Guide to Music Funding.
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Advice on finding music funding from Musicians' Union