“Don’t have the money to record your next album? Just get a grant!” Famous last words.
Most musicians, when they realize the amount work and specificity an application requires, end up balking at the enormity of the task.
There’s no doubt that grants take work, but they can be well worth it, whether it’s for hiring session musicians, skilled producers, photographers, graphic designers, or otherwise.
Here are multiple grant options for you to explore.
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New Music USA
New Music USA offers funding for individuals and organizations. At any given time, they may be accepting applications for different opportunities.
As of this writing, they are promoting the following opportunities:
- Next Jazz Legacy. Apprenticeship program for women and non-binary improvisers in jazz with a strong emphasis on gender and race as key determining factors.
- Reel Change Film Fund. Five-year grants and mentorship program for composers from a variety of backgrounds, especially those who’ve been marginalized.
- Amplifying Voices. US orchestras and composers, with a focus on racial and gender equality, especially in classical music.
Foundation for Contemporary Arts
Region: USA & International
Foundation for Contemporary Arts has awarded 6,800+ grants to artists and arts organizations, totaling more than $24 million.
They organization supports artists in the categories of music / sound, dance, performance art / theater, poetry, and visual arts.
Their main grant programs include Grants to Artists, The John Cage Award, Emergency Grants, and The Ellsworth Kelly Award.
Here’s a basic overview of each:
- Grants to Artists. Artists must be suggested and selected by their peers. FCA follows a two-step process for approval. Most grants have been awarded to those living in the US, but grants can be awarded internationally as well. There are seven awards in total, each representing $45,000 in value. Past recipients include Raven Chacon, Susie Ibarra, and Laura Ortman.
- The John Cage Award. A $45,000 award established in 1992 honoring one of FCA’s founders. The John Cage Award has a confidential nomination and selection process. Some past recipients include Meredith Monk, Toshi Ichiyanagi, and Phil Niblock.
- Emergency Grants. Primarily for visual and performing artists who require urgent funding. Grants range from $500 to $3,000, with the average grant coming out to $1,900.
- The Ellsworth Kelly Award. An award supporting museum exhibitions for contemporary artists, worth $45,000.
The two that would be of most interest to musicians would be Grants to Artists and The John Cage Award.
The Alice M. Ditson Fund
The Alice M. Ditson Fund was created to support the recording projects of younger and mostly unknown (living) American composers.
There are two grant programs – Organizational Support and Recording Projects.
Organizational Support offers support to performing organizations, institutions, summer festivals and conferences that increases the public knowledge and appreciation of younger, unknown American composers. Grants range from $1,000 to $5,000.
Recording Projects is aimed at individuals and is just as it sounds. Grants range from $1,000 to $5,000 but you can apply for recording costs, production costs, and post-production costs as well.
New York Foundation for the Arts
Region: New York
New York Foundation for the Arts awards over $3 million in cash grants every single year.
They have a broad range of grant programs, so you’ll need to choose the one that’s best suited to your situation (though it should be obvious which are best suited to musicians). We will offer an overview, but we also recommend doing your own homework.
First, the recurring grant programs:
- NYSCA / NYFA Artist Fellowship. For New York based artists, this grant provides unrestricted grants of $7,000.
- NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre. Grants of up to $50,000 for the creation of film, music, digital, television, and live theater content, reflecting the perspectives of women.
- The JGS Fellowship of Photography. $7,000 cash grant to New Your State photography artists.
- Recharge New Surrealist Prize. $7,000 award for New Surrealist painters living in the US and US territories.
- Canadian Women Artists’ Award. $5,000 cash grant for Canadian women between 25 and 40, who are residents of the New York State.
Now for the one-time grants:
- Anonymous Was A Woman Environmental Grants. Up to $20,000 for environmental art projects.
- NYSCA / NYFA Artists with Disabilities Grant. Cash grants of $1,000 for artists with a disability, specifically those who’ve gone through a financial hardship during the COVID-19 crisis. Visual, media, music, performing, literary, and multidisciplinary artists inclusive.
NYFA also has the following emergency grants:
- Rauschenberg Medical Emergency Grants. For those experiencing unexpected medical, dental, and mental health emergencies, for artists in visual arts, film, video, digital, electronic arts, and choreography. Up to $5,000 one-time grants for those in the US, District of Columbia, US Territories, and Tribal Nations.
- Rauschenberg Dancer Emergency Grants. Up to $5,000 for professional dancers undergoing a financial emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, they have two invite-only grants:
- Murray Reich Distinguished Artist Award. For artists going deeper into the arts and are exploring new horizons. Applications are by invitation only.
- Tomorrowland Projects Foundation Award. For artist and team-driven projects of a multidisciplinary nature covering issues affecting society. Applications are by invitation only.
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation offers multiple grants for artists. Their programs include:
- Central Appalachia Living Traditions: from $1,000 to $10,000
- Creative Fellowships: $1,750 or $3,500 depending on the length of stay, plus $250 in reimbursement for the cost of travel to and from residency
- Jazz Road: $5,000 to $15,000
- State Fellowships: for artists in Delaware and New Jersey
- USArtists International: Up to $18,000 towards eligible expenses
These are all supporting artists in the US and specific states or districts of the States. View the website for additional information.
Tennessee Arts Commission
Region: Tennessee, USA
Tennessee Arts Commission is another organization offering grants for individuals and organizations. Their programs are searchable via status (closed or open), individual or organization, or support type (operating support or project support), so take full advantage of these to find the right program for you.
Their grant opportunities are as follows (not all will apply to musicians):
- Arts Access
- Arts Access Mini-Grant
- Arts Build Communities
- Arts Education Community Learning
- Arts Education Teacher Training
- Arts Pathways for Youth Success
- Arts Project Support
- Creative Aging Tennessee II
- Creative Placemaking
- Creative Placemaking: Rural Arts Facilities Fund
- Individual Artist Fellowship
- Major Cultural Institutions
- Partnership Support
- Rural Arts Project Support
- Small Rural Partnership Support
- Small Urban Partnership Support
- Special Opportunities – Arts Resilience Grant
- Special Opportunities: Arts & Economic Prosperity 6
- Student Ticket Subsidy
- Targeted Arts Development Initiative
- Tennessee Nonprofit Arts & Culture Recovery Fund – Round 2
- Tennessee Nonprofit Arts & Culture Recovery Fund Grant
Be sure to check their website for more information.
Region: Canada (obviously!)
FACTOR (or The Foundation of Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings) is a well-known non-profit organization aiding the growth and development of the music industry in Canada.
Their grant categories include:
- Artist Development: $2,000 subsidy towards a year of artist development activity.
- Collective Initiatives: for music industry events, showcases, and productions. Funding depends on event type and budget.
- Comprehensive Artist: for producing and marketing a full-length album. Funding depends on the budget.
- Comprehensive Music Company: sound recording program for record labels. Up to a maximum of $100,000 per FACTOR fiscal year.
- Envelope Funding or Music Companies: for business development activity. Up to $600,000 or up to $800,000 for affiliated companies. 50% of total eligible expenses.
- Funding for National Service Organizations: supporting Canadian music entrepreneurs, specifically not-for-profit organizations. Covers up to 75% eligible expenses or up to $650,000 per fiscal year.
- Juried Sound Recording: for recording and marketing a full-length album. Funding is… complicated. See website for details.
- Live Performance: for national and international performances including showcases and tours. Funding is complicated.
- Marketing and Promotion for Non-FACTOR-Funded Sound Recordings: for the marketing of commercially released full-length sound recordings. Funding is complicated.
- Songwriter Development: $2,000 subsidy for a year of songwriting initiatives.
- Sponsorship: for smaller, lesser-known music related events. Funding is unknown.
- Support for Eligible Music Companies: for business development supporting the promotion of music publishers and songwriting initiatives. Funding is complicated.
- Video: For music videos, up to $40,000.
The Canadian Council for the Arts
The Canadian Council for the Arts supported over 3,000 Canadian artists, over 380 groups, and over 2,000 arts organizations from 2020 to 2021.
They offer the following six programs:
- Explore and Create. With innovation and diversity as the focal point.
- Engage and Sustain. For arts organizations.
- Creating, Knowing and Sharing: The Arts and Cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. For indigenous individuals, groups, and indigenous led arts organizations.
- Supporting Artistic Practice. For Canadian arts professionals, groups, and arts organizations who promote the Canadian arts sector.
- Arts Across Canada. For sharing artistic works with diverse communities across Canada.
- Arts Abroad. Support for bringing Canadian art across the world.
Explore The Canadian Council for the Arts website for more details.
Many musicians will have heard of the SOCAN Foundation (because of the Performance Rights Organization, SOCAN), an organization that aids creators and publishers working to promote appreciation for Canadian music.
Their grants for creators, music publishers, and individuals include the following:
- Travel Assistance Program. From $400 to $1,000 depending on travel distance.
- Professional Development Assistance Program. Up to $1,500 for conferences, courses, seminars, and workshops.
- Work Commissioning Assistance Grant. For the promotion of new works in the concert / classical music genre. See website for additional details.
- SOCAN Foundation Career Development Grant. For accessing conferences, workshops, masterclasses, or other learning opportunities. Up to 850 grants of $300 each are awarded to applicants (a total allocation of $250,000).
They also offer the following grants for organizations only:
- Canadian Music Assistance. For presentation events, education activities, and publication activities. A minimum grant of $1,000, with average grants being $1,500. If you enter a sponsorship agreement with the SOCAN Foundation, you can also access an average of $6,000 for sponsorship.
- Work Commissioning Assistance Grant. See website for details.
- Annual Operations Assistance. For non-for-profit member services organizations representing Canadian music.
Arts Council England
Arts Council England funds artists, organizations, events, and other initiatives.
As of this writing, these programs are accepting applications:
- National Lottery Project Grants. For individual artists, community, and cultural organizations.
- Cultural Development Fund: Round Three. For local creative and cultural initiatives.
PRS Foundation is UK’s leading charitable funder for new music and talent development.
Their Funding for Music Creators program is inclusive to songwriters, composers, artists, bands, producers, or performers who write their own music (they do not support cover bands, tribute bands, or performers who don’t write their own music).
There are many funds in the following categories:
- All Levels: Women Make Music, The Open Fund for Music Creators
- Early Career: Adopt A Music Creator, ReBalance, Steve Reid InNOVAtion Award, etc.
- Next Steps: Power Up, PPL Momentum Music Fund, PPL Momentum Accelerator: Yorkshire, Liverpool & Wales, etc.
- International Opportunities: International Showcase Fund, BBC Music Introducing Partnership, Keychange, etc.
- Sustaining Creativity Fund: a standalone program
Other Means Of Getting Funding & Financial Support For Your Music Career
While there are many grants and awards out there, they can be a little limited depending on where you live, and the competition for funding can also be quite fierce.
Because of this, musicians often need to find creative ways to fund their projects. But there’s really nothing wrong with thinking outside the box!
Here are some other viable funding opportunities (some are admittedly better than others):
- Crowdfunding. Whether it’s Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or something else, there isn’t a shortage of crowdfunding platforms, and if you have an engaged and loyal fan base, it can be a great way to fund your next project.
- Sponsorships. Your music appeals to a specific demographic. There are companies out there with massive marketing budgets willing to sponsor your gigs and other activity, if they think you’ve got access to a market segment they want to market to. But always make sure it’s a good fit for you, too, or it can end up doing more harm than good for your brand.
- Investors. You probably won’t find much help from startup investors, venture capitalists, or angel investors. But there are individual investors occasionally supporting artists and musical projects. The only trick to finding someone is getting to know the people in your community.
- Fundraising events. It’s a little unconventional, but I have personally seen musicians host fundraising events for their extended music distribution and touring activity.
- Loan. If you’ve got a solid day job, with a good salary, little to no debt, and good credit score, there’s the chance you’ll be able to get a loan from the bank. But the chance is slight. You should explore other loans if this seems like a good fit for your goals.
- Credit cards. Rarely a good option. On the off chance that you can, for example, spend $3,000 and pay it off (with a guarantee) in the next 30 days, it might be worth doing. Otherwise, please be careful and don’t go into debt. Credit – good! Debt – bad!
Top Grants For Musicians, Final Thoughts
Once you’ve applied to a few grants, you will become more familiar with the process. Think of the first two or three applications as practice runs unless you happen to be working with a grant writer or consultant.
From there, keep improving your process. You can get better at applying to grants, which should increase your chances of being awarded some funding for your music.