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4 places to look for money to support you in the early days of your career


Looking for money at the start of your music career | gigomi |  Credit for photo: Photo by Philip Veater on Unsplash
Looking for money at the start of your music career
 

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Do you have enough money to buy all the instruments, equipment, transport, rehearsal and studio time that you’d like?


I’m guessing not.


It is an expensive business when you are starting but there are a surprisingly large number of organisations which give out grants to help musicians in the early stage of their career.


I’ve brought together 4 of them for you to have a look at.


 

Help Musicians UK (HelpmusiciansUK)


Who are they?


They used to be known as the Musicians Benevolent Fund but changed their name.


Like the old Ronseal adverts, Help Musicians UK does what it says on the tin. It helps UK musicians!


They describe their job as: “Specifically, we help emerging professionals to develop their talent and get started in a professional career. We help existing professionals who hit a crisis in their lives which can have a devastating effect on their career and families. We help with long-term or terminal illness and we help musicians in retirement and those needing special help as they grow older.”


You don’t have to join to get their help. Most of their services are for professional musicians only (& they define a professional musician as somebody who earns at least 50% of their income from music)


The Funding Wizard described below is open to anybody to use.


How can they help you get funding?


HMUK has a nifty Funding Wizard. You put in details including the sort of music you make, where you are in your career and it will point you towards some potential sources of funding.


At the time of writing there are over 150 possible sources.


 

PRS Foundation (PRS Foundation)


Who are they?


The PRS Foundation is no longer a part of the Performing Rights Society although it used to be - and still receives £3m a year funding from them.


Now it is an independent charity.

Its aim is to support “talent development and new music across the UK; enabling songwriters and composers of all backgrounds to realise their potential and reach audiences across the world….[they] do this through open grant schemes which are available to musicians and organisations and partnership programmes”


How can they help you get funding?


There are a whole series of different schemes administered by the PRS Foundation.


For what they call Early Career musicians there are several which you can find here.


 

Arts Council

(which has a separate organisation for each country in the UK: ArtsCouncil England, Creative Scotland, Arts Council of Wales, Arts Council Northern Ireland)


Who are they?


These are the gorillas in the jungle - the big boys and girls of funding creativity.


They invest money from the Government and The National Lottery.


While the other organisations on this list are music-focused, the Arts Council works across people creating in all areas of the arts as well as what they call Culture (which includes galleries, venues, libraries and museums)


How can they help you get funding?


They have a huge amount of money to help creative people.


Unfortunately, because it is a government backed agency, getting access to the money requires an awful lot of paperwork.


I suggest you have a look at the website that is related to your part of the UK and decide whether it is worth the effort. They all have guidance sections to help you make up your mind.


 

Youth Music Network YouthMusic


Who are they?


They are a national charity.


They support “young people's lives in music. Equity, diversity and inclusion drive [their] vision and mission. [They] want to equalise access to music: [they] focus on those who would otherwise miss out because of who they are, where they live, or what they're going through.”


They support people up to the age of 25.


How can they help you get funding?


They have various funds which are designed to help under 25 year olds in different ways. You can find a list of them here.


I suggest that you pay particular attention to the Incubator Fund which is intended to help develop what they call “sustainable careers in music for people aged 18-25, particularly those who are underrepresented; and to support creative employers to innovate and incubate new and diverse talent”


Next Steps


It can be a bit overwhelming going through all these different options.


Start with one thing and take it from there.


I recommend that you begin with Help Musicians UK and use their Funding Wizard.

And remember - if you get stuck, all of these organisations have people who can explain more about how they can help you and they can also talk you through filling in the application forms. So give them a call and ask for help.


Somebody will get these grants so why can’t that be you? It's worth a try.


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