Starting your professional music journey, maintaining a stable music career, or taking on a new music project can be tricky. There are many things one has to consider or that may get in the way. One of them is one’s financial situation. Thinking about how to spare money or earn enough of it to finance both your current life and your future in music might feel heavy and discouraging.
Luckily, there are plenty of funding and investment opportunities for both emerging and established music professionals to help achieve their goals and take their career to the next level.
In this article, we’ll show you how to get around music funding and what opportunities are actually available.
How to get around music funding
1. Come up with a plan
Before you dive right into what funding options you have, you need to know what it is that you want to fund. Generally, it might be your music career. However, it is important to come up with a more specific agenda, almost a complete business plan, outlining your visions and ambitions, individual goals and steps to achieve them, and an assumed timeline (e.g. how long it will take you to achieve your goals and then to pay back the money if that’s the case).
This is crucial not only for you as a promising musician (to know what kind of funding you’re looking for), but also for the authorities dealing with your funding application — especially if what you’re looking for is a loan. Naturally, each funding opportunity may require a different approach with regard to the type of the funding body, the application process, and your obligations.
Generally, however, it’s important that you can speak about your project openly and knowledgeably, and that you can answer any incoming questions on the spot.
2. Decide how much funding you need
Another thing that your plan may help you with is to determine how much money you actually need. ‘Any amount of money will do’ or ‘the more the better’, you may think. However, working out a more or less realistic budget before you even start applying for funding will enable you to be in the loop about any upcoming decisions. It may also help you distinguish between how much money you want and how much you need.
You should also bear in mind that taking both too much or too little money will likely do more harm than good, especially if it comes to having to pay it back. With too much money, you will need more time to pay it back and there’s more risk involved — if something goes wrong, you may end up with heavy, long-lasting debts.
If you ask for too little funding, you may run out of the money before you even make a return on your investment. This will leave you with a debt, too.
3. Explore what options are available
Knowing what your ‘business plan’ is and how much money you’ll need for your project may help you determine what type of funding you’re looking for. Before we dive into the individual types, we just want to emphasize that whatever funding you choose, you need to make sure that your source is legit and reliable.
Should you have any doubts about the authenticity and the intentions of the respective funding body, don’t hesitate to contact them and ask for additional information or, if possible, arrange a meeting. You can also check if there are any reviews from past applicants simply to see whether they are trustworthy. There are many companies out there with sketchy offers and conman-like methods, charging hidden fees or extremely high interests. Such a bad investment may cause substantial problems in the long run.
A business loan
Securing any kind of business loan might be one of the less competitive ways to get money to support your project. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy and that anyone can take out a loan.
In most cases, banks and other financial institutions will offer you a loan based on your credit score or your current source of income (whether you’re employed and if so, how much you’re earning). They may also take into consideration your so-called business plan and all the materials you can provide them with regarding your project.
This option may therefore be more appropriate for artists who have been in music for a while now or individuals who are not in the music business yet but have a stable job in a different industry with a desire to change careers.
To apply for a loan, you can contact any major bank in your area or you can opt for loans from institutions that focus primarily on small businesses or businesses in the creative and entertainment industries. This includes for example the Small Business Administration (US), The Entertainment Small Business Alliance (US), Creative UK (UK), Ifcic (FR), or puls (DE).
Art or music grants
The ultimate benefit of art grant programs is that, traditionally, you don’t have to pay any money back. On the other hand, however, getting such a grant may be very difficult as the number of applicants, and thus competitors, is usually pretty high. Having a plan and ambitions for your music career is often not enough.
You may need to convince others why it’s you who should get the grant, show a lot of potential, and demonstrate how the money will help you succeed. In some cases, you may also need to display your previous experience and accomplishments. Luckily, there are a countless number of institutions around the world that offer grants.
If you’re located in Europe or the UK, you may want to have a look at the PRS foundation (UK), Musicians’ Union (UK), Help Musicians (UK), Adagp (FR), DAAD (DE), or Cultura Portugal (PT). If you’re located in one of the countries of the European Union, you can also consider the funding opportunities offered by the European Commission.
The power of crowdfunding lies in the fact that artists are allowed to fund their projects without having to go through any kind of funding body, such as lending institutions, banks, or music grant associations. They can simply ask their fans and followers to contribute financially to their projects.
You just have to make sure that you have some. This is not to suggest that there’s nobody loving and supporting your music. What we mean is that to run a successful crowdfunding campaign, you need to have a particular amount of loyal fans who will love to help you fund your upcoming tour, a new album, or a music video. If you’re just at the beginning of your career and your music is pretty much unknown to others, it might be difficult to raise any money.
Private investors and sponsors
Getting financial assistance from private investors and sponsors is also an option more suitable for bigger, more experienced and established, or very talented artists. As you can imagine, individuals as well as companies offering financial endorsements may receive tens or hundreds of sponsorship pitches every week. Therefore, to stand a chance, you need to stand out from the crowd.
Again, this is not to discourage you from trying. If you have music to showcase and great passion for your craft, there is nothing stopping you from approaching individuals and brands that you think could be a good fit for you (and that you could be a good fit for, too).
There are also a variety of forms that such endorsements may take. You can receive an offer for simple cash sponsorship or you may be provided with a promotional opportunity, enabling you to become an ambassador for or the face of a particular brand. On top of that, individual sponsors and investors may come from different industries, too. It may be a music-related entity, a cosmetic company, a clothing brand, alcohol beverage company, etc.
4. Spend your money wisely
Just as it’s important to establish your budget before you seek financial support, you should also try to stick to your budget once you receive it. Of course, unexpected expenses will likely arise — after all, nothing ever goes exactly as planned.
However, a sensible plan for your spendings and cash flow may help you stay on track and better monitor and manage any budget deviations and unexpected setbacks in your music journey. We’re sure that this goes without saying (and we definitely don’t want you to feel like we’re putting additional pressure on you) but especially in terms of loans, it’s extremely easy to get into a long-lasting financial struggle if you don’t keep proper track of your spendings.
This may, as a result, negatively impact both your professional and personal life and take a particularly heavy toll on your mental well-being.
Don’t give up
‘Don’t give up!’ I know what you may want to say to that. ‘It’s easier said than done.’ But as someone who has changed their trajectory a few times and looked for ways I can finance my next move, I’m certain that your future in music (or anything else that you really want in life) is worth the try.
Yes, there are more than plenty of funding opportunities out there and going through each one of them to find the best options may be extremely time-consuming and overwhelming. And that’s even without taking into account the fierce competition that you have to face off.
Eventually, however, the wide range and great amount of options available may really play into your cards here. If you decide to devote time and effort into finding what might be suitable for you, you may end up with opportunities that you’ve never dreamt of before.
Also, don’t forget that you’re not on this journey alone. If you’re interested in any kind of funding opportunity and a specific institution, but you’re unsure whether you’d be a good fit for it, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the contact person. It should always be in the interest of the respective funding bodies and associations to help you and other musicians achieve their goals. If this is not the case, simply move on and contact the next institution on your list.
On top of that, there are also great communities of fellow musicians and other industry experts, like our iMusician Community Forum, that can either recommend some music funding or help you with the application process. There are no special requirements for you to become a member of our community. Simply sign up and the floor is yours.
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