How to get funding for your music - 5 essential tips

Ellie Moore from Help Musicians UK gives us her essential advice on successfully applying for funding for your music...
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Filling out funding applications is not the first thing you think of when you imagine life as a musician.

But the funding out there is designed to help you turn your vision and ideas into real-life projects.

At Help Musicians UK we speak to many musicians who are thinking of applying for funding for the first time but find the process daunting.

In the words that follow we want to build a bit of confidence and offer some advice to anyone thinking of applying…

First step? Think, research and plan

What’s your goal for the next one, two or five years? Is it a recording, tour or professional development? Do you need £1,000 or £10,000? Are you working in the UK or abroad? What makes you stand out?

Questions like these will determine where you should look. Our hugely popular Funding Wizard offers a simple way to search through funding options.

When you find a fund that clicks, read the guidelines until you are sure it is right one for you. This process may not be exciting but break it up into chunks and reward yourself!"

Reading the guidelines is one of the most important parts of the application process. Funding applications aren’t designed to trip you up or catch you out, but if your project doesn’t fit the criteria sadly it won’t go through. It’s a waste of your time to apply for something that isn’t suited to your needs and situation. Unsure? Contact the funder and ask or check out the FAQ’s.  

For some inspiration find out what other artists have to say about funding

Electronic artist and Future Bubbler Kayla Painter

Flamenco guitarist Sam Moore  

Jazz band Vula Viel

Songwriter Raleigh Long  

When writing your application

It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to do, why you want to do it and how you will go about doing it before putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard. We would advise (again) to look at the guidelines and make notes about how you and your project fit in with the funding scheme in question before looking through the application form. This way, you’ll find the questions easier to address.

When you start writing your application, keep in mind that funders won’t have any prior knowledge of who you are and what you are applying for. Spell it out for them and make sure your writing style is easy to understand."

Write about yourself and your project with confidence

Throughout your application it’s important to talk about what makes you and your project stand out. Get across why your project matters and what makes it important to you and your audiences.  When writing the ‘about me’ section, remember you’ve worked hard to get where you are so tell us! Share your most recent or best achievements first. This also applies when you are asked to provide a review or examples of your music. Double check your links work and your online presence is up-to-date. This may seem obvious but in every round of funding there are applications that have the wrong links. A wrong link means we might not be able to listen to your music!

Project planning

Requirements for budgets and project plans vary across the board. Make sure you read what these are. Make sure your budget balances and it’s not over the amount available. If you are writing a prospective application, you might ask ‘how can I create a detailed plan or budget of something that hasn’t happened yet?’ What you must show is that you have researched the costs and identified who you want to work with. For example, you want to make new recordings – great, but we want to know which studio and why? Which producer and why? Will you need session musicians? How much will that cost?

When you’ve finished the application read it ‘cold’. Imagine yourself as an outsider, can you understand your project proposal? Are there any obvious gaps of information missing? Get someone to read it through if you can."

Final word of advice

Applying for funding is not as scary as you think. This is money that has been set aside for talented people like you so go for it! Set aside time to do it properly - it can be exciting to think about future projects and what you have achieved but like any form, filling it in can be hard work and extremely detailed, so reward yourself at the end.

Remember that funders, especially in the first stages of application rounds, sadly have a limited time to read your application, make it count by being clear, confident, current and correct. Read the guidelines and re-read your application. Finally, if you don’t gain funding don’t lose hope. Ask for feedback where it’s offered, take stock and try again. Most applicants who are successful are applying for the second or third time!

Check out our current funding opportunities including the newly launched MOBO Help Musicians Fund

Help Musicians UK (HMUK) is the leading independent charity providing help, support and opportunities to empower musicians at all stages of their lives.  As well as playing a vital role supporting working musicians who are dealing with an illness, injury or accident, we also provide a range of opportunities to support learning and professional. Visit their website for more information. 

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by Ellie Moore, Help Musicians UK
October 2, 2018
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