Funding for Music Projects Affected by COVID

June 15, 2020

Over recent months it’s become clear that COVID-19 will have a drastic, if not permanent, impact on the music industry. One notable example is the Keep Music Alive campaign, launched in May 2020 by the Musicians’ Union and The Ivors Academy. The campaign’s goal is for musicians to receive a more equitable share of money made from streaming. With live performances having ground to a halt, it is imperative that musicians receive their fair share of streaming revenue.

The campaign’s #FixStreaming petition calls for the government to review regulations regarding streaming royalties, which they’ve described as ‘woefully insufficient’. As of mid-June, the petition has garnered 13,000 signatures, 2,000 short of their initial target.

In the short-term, self-employed musicians are searching for grants, funds, and schemes so they can continue their careers post-lockdown. Deadlines for several of these funds have passed, despite the upcoming festival season. Fortunately, there are still multiple music funding opportunities available. This article will highlight a selection of funding initiatives for musicians.

Music Funding Organisations and Music Charities

Help Musicians

Important Update: Help Musicians is currently experiencing an extremely high volume of applications with limited funding. Those in need of support should enquire as soon as possible.

Help Musicians is one of the UK’s foremost music charities. On the 5th of June, the organisation began their second round of ‘Coronavirus Hardship Funding’. The fund started with over £2.25m available, having received over £500,000 from PPL and a further £50,000 from The Lightbody Foundation (created by Gary Lightbody, lead singer of Snow Patrol).

To be eligible, applicants must be professional self-employed musicians facing significant financial hardship due to COVID-19, and are unable to subsist on government support. Interested applicants should review the three available funding routes:

Route 1: Musicians who are currently in receipt of Universal Credit

Route 2: Musicians who are struggling financially but are ineligible for Universal Credit

Route 3: Musicians with ‘complex needs’ who require the help of a personal caseworker

All successful applicants will receive grants paid in instalments from June to October 2020. If you believe you are eligible for either of the three funding routes, here are all the relevant guidelines and application forms.

PRS Foundation

PRS Foundation is the leading charitable fund for new musical talent. They recently partnered with Spotify as part of their COVID-19 Music Relief project, alongside 19 other international organisations. Since its inception in March 2005, PRS Foundation has provided £35m to over 7,000 music-related initiatives.

Sustaining Creativity Fund

Thanks to recent donations and their collaboration with Spotify, PRS Foundation recently launched its Sustaining Creativity Fund. This fund is not designed to provide emergency financial relief. Instead, it is to support UK musicians across all genres who’ve been affected by coronavirus. PRS aims to provide up to £750 to each successful applicant, helping artists dedicate more time to writing, recording, and pursuing their creative ambitions.

PRS Foundation has stated that while bands can benefit from the Sustaining Creativity Fund, priority will be given to songwriters and composers. Artists who are signed to major labels are also ineligible for financial support.

The next date for applications is yet to be confirmed, so artists interested in applying should regularly check the PRS Foundation website for updates. In the meantime, The Open Fund for Music Creators and the Women Make Music fund are currently open to applications until October 2020.

Association of Independent Musicians (AIM)

Association of Independent Musicians is a not-for-profit organisation that provides resources for UK-based independent musicians. In April 2020 AIM launched a ‘Crisis Fund’ to support not only AIM members but also businesses and contractors affected by the cancellation of members’ upcoming projects. This ‘critical part of the music industry ecosystem’ includes session musicians, mixing engineers, producers, managers, designers and many other industry professionals.

Initially, the AIM Crisis Fund reimbursed up to £1000 of money lost from cancelled projects in April and May. Thanks to significant donations, the fund is now able to continue into June and July. Applicants who received financial aid in the first round of funding are free to apply for a grant in June and July.

Eligible musicians and industry professionals can submit an application for the AIM Crisis Fund here. AIM is also encouraging applications from people who are underrepresented in the music industry. This includes BAME professionals, women and non-binary individuals, members of the LGBT+ community and people who are registered as disabled.

Musicians’ Union

The Musicians’ Union has set up a £1m Coronavirus Hardship Fund to help members recoup losses from the widespread cancellation of public performances. Musicians in need of immediate and pressing support can apply to receive up to £200.

The Musicians’ Union is currently exploring ways to increase the fund as quickly as possible, as well as urging the Government to provide more support to struggling musicians. Members of the Musicians’ Union can apply for the Coronavirus Hardship Fund here.

Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland, in partnership with the National Lottery, launched the Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development in March 2020. With an overall budget of £7.5m, this fund provides finance for both Scottish musicians and organisations, as well as a broad range of artists and creatives.

Before musicians enquire further, they should know that risk is a critical factor in the decision-making process. With health and safety being the biggest priority, funding for indoor performances is unlikely to be successful until the end of the year. Artists seeking funding for outdoor physical performances are advised to apply in October 2020. Performances with a large audience (such as festivals) are viewed as particularly high-risk and are unlikely to receive funding from Creative Scotland until March 2021.

The fund is open all year round with no deadline for applications. Candidates can apply for grants between £1,000 and £50,000. Creative Scotland advises that funds will be allocated on an ‘as needed’ basis, with large-scale collaborative projects likely to receive a higher level of funding.