Establishing a career as a performing artist is no easy feat. In all honesty, it’s a tough gig from the start. It takes dedication, true passion, and persistence to get your musical career off the ground. Whether you’re a solo artist, band member, or in the business of music production, financial strain can seem like a never-ending limitation.
This being said, there are a number of options for musician funding in today’s day and age. You just need to know where to look, who to approach, and how to build a good relationship with your funders.
For more on the basics of musician funding, check out the rest of this blog.
What Are Your Options for Musician Funding?
For musicians and performing artists today, there are a few viable options for funding. Some of these include grants, foundation funding, as well as loans — check out Fast Artist Funding for more. All of these options assist in covering the costs of recording, project development, rehearsal, touring, and travel expenses.
However, it’s important to be realistic and remember that these types of funding are not a great substitute for other sources of revenue. Ideally, you want to use live performance fees, merchandise sales, and licensing as a primary source of income. Grants, foundation funding, and loans should be viewed as supplementary funding.
How to Find and Apply For Musician Funding
You want to find a source of funding that is sustainable as a musician. Sometimes, this may not always be a realistic option, and a once-off grant may have to suffice. But if you can find an ongoing grant program, this could help any budding musician sufficiently find their feet. First thing’s first:
1. Understand the Market
Just because you can play an instrument, know how to read music, or have a great voice doesn’t automatically make you a successful musician. It takes a little homework on your part to understand the industry and market you’re getting into in order to find success.
You need to have a good knowledge of how the music industry works. If you don’t have specific industry experience, make sure you know what you’re facing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from fellow musicians, and industry experts.
2. Scout Out Appropriate Programs in Your Area
By searching online for grant programs in your specific area, you could find a comprehensive list of every funding opportunity in your region. But make sure it’s specific to your state, as grants and funding opportunities have very specific criteria.
If you’re still in school, make the most of the tools and information available to you when searching for grants/funding. Otherwise, make the most of the contacts you have within your music ”scene”. Ask other artists or bands about the grants/funding they’ve applied for and their advice. With some persistence, you can find the right grant to suit you.
Once you’ve found a grant/funding opportunity, make sure to read through the illegibility criteria with a fine-tooth comb. You want to make sure you qualify in every aspect. There’s nothing more disappointing than applying, only to be turned down because of something you missed!
3. Be Bold: Reach Out to Granting Agents
Once you’ve found an appropriate grant or funding program, don’t sit back on your laurels expecting granting agents to come to you. You can take the initiative and approach them, too.
There’s no harm in getting in contact with granting agents to confirm that you are eligible. Ask them what you can do to make your application noticeable. Believe it or not, it’s the granting agent’s job to help you where they can. So don’t let the opportunity slip by. Be bold, and reach out to them sooner rather than later.
If you are invited for an interview or meeting with the granting agency, make sure you are well prepared. Ensure you can succinctly summarize your project and career goals. Always have a few questions of your own prepared. Listen intently to all their advice and suggestions about your application and take notes.
4. Prepare and Submit a Standout Application
The success of your application and grant/funding depends on how well prepared you are. When filling out your application, you want to convince funders that you are offering a unique project, backed by a practical plan.
Whatever you do, don’t leave your application to the last minute. The musical grant process is competitive, so make sure you invest real time and effort into your application. Address each item within the application with as much detail and specifics as possible.
If you need help with putting your application together, don’t be afraid to ask for it. For example, if you have no experience in writing professionally, ask someone to put your ideas and plans into words for you.
5. Don’t Forget Supporting Material
When it’s time to submit your application, make sure you offer as much supporting material to showcase your talent. This includes recordings, videos, press clippings, performance history, etc.
No matter how well-written and organized your application is, it will most likely be denied without supporting material to back it up. Do thorough research on what the application requires in terms of supporting material. Make sure to follow this criteria to a tee!
6. Establish a Long-Term Relationship With Funders
One of the most important aspects of funding as a musician is to ensure you build a good relationship with your funders. Ultimately, this could lead to long-term funding which could be a huge support for your career. Most funders offer a number of different levels of funding, too. You can progress through these funding programs as your career grows.
It’s also important to continue to submit fresh and new applications to your funder. Even if it’s tedious and requires a lot of work, it could be well worth it in the end for continued funding. If you are able to deliver what your applications promise, this builds a strong rapport between you and your funder. This way, they are more likely to show you support over time.
Are You in the Business of Entertainment?
Musician funding may seem like a pipe dream, initially. For most budding musicians and performing artists, it may seem like you’ll never catch the break you need. But with a little persistence, determination, and research, you can find the right grant/funding to help you achieve your career dreams.
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