Making a splash in the music biz requires talent, persistence — and enough money to get yourself out there to be seen and appreciated. If you’re just getting started as a solo artist, band, or musical ensemble, or if you’re struggling to be seen and heard by a larger audience, music grants can give your career a nice boost. Yes, Canadian music funding is available to help young musicians get off on the right foot, and you may be able to grab a share of it.
Why Should I Apply for Music Grants?
Regardless of your level of musical talent or performing experience, it’s expensive to record, package, market, and perform music for the public. Unless you’ve got a fat inheritance or rich parents who cater to your every whim, funding your musical journey requires savvy planning. At minimum, you need cash for clean-sounding recordings and online self-distribution and marketing to attract fans.
Where to Find Music Funding in Canada
The Canadian government is ready to give you, and other talented artists, money for your projects. There are two sources handing out grant monies.
1) The Canada Council for the Artsoffers grants in the following six categories:
- Arts Abroad
- Arts Across Canada
- Arts and Cultures of First Nations
- Engage and Sustain
- Explore and Create
- Supporting Artistic Practice
2) The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings a.k.a. FACTOR is a private nonprofit organization that receives some funding from the Canadian government. Receive money for:
- Artist Development
- Collective Initiatives
- Comprehensive Artist
- Comprehensive Music Company
- Juried Sound Recording
- Live Performance
What if I Know Nothing About Grant Writing?
The idea of writing a grant can be intimidating, but don’t let fear keep you from going after free money. Sure you can always find someone experienced in funding consulting to help you through it, but you can competently handle the application process yourself when you know what to do.
Step 1: Set Up a Profile
The entire grant application process is done online and the first thing you do is create a profile that provides background information. Freely share your musical experiences and give program administrators as much useful information as possible. Let your passion and love for music shine brightly. Remember, you’re competing for limited funds and competition is fierce, so give them plenty of reasons to like you when they read your profile.
Step 2: Thoroughly Research Each Grant Program
Research may not be your thing, but you should do lots of it before starting your program applications. Why? Because knowledge is power, and knowing what each program does (or doesn’t do) helps you pick ones that offer you the strongest chance of winning approval. Think strategically. Pretend you’re interested in recording an album of 12 songs, but you’ve never even recorded a demo. Not only that, your live performances are limited to a few small local spots. Instead of applying for a recording grant as a complete studio novice, perhaps it’s better to target live performance funds so you can beef up your fan base and street cred. After travelling and playing at a variety of venues, your grant application for recording funds is a lot stronger.
Step 3: Stay Informed
Sign up for every music-related funding program email you can find. This is an easy way to keep track of upcoming grant opportunities. You may want to print out these emails and keep them nearby to remember application deadline dates. Better yet, add those dates to your digital note app and set reminder prompts for submitting applications.
Step 4: Avoid the Temptation to Skim Guidelines
Okay, there’s no getting around the fact that reading grant guidelines is boring. For the sake of your music career, force yourself to read every single sentence of every single guideline. Reading and understanding all the information is crucial for your application. Got questions about something you read? Contact the funding source for clarification. If you choose to guess at something, you may guess wrong. Play it safe by not skimming.
Step 5: Keep Communicating
Communication is very important when dealing with grant funding sources. People responsible for making application decisions may have questions about something you put in your application. As soon as you see a message, respond as quickly as possible. This shows you’re eager to help them make a good decision, and you really want that money! Also, be sure to let funders know about any changes in your music plans or projects.
Step 6: Remember to Include all Supporting Documents
When the application requires you to submit supporting documents, write down the type of documents you need, and submit them along with your application. Forgetting to submit one document may delay or squash your application completely. Do whatever it takes to collect these documents, and then get them ready for submission ahead of the deadline. Documents may include links to your social media pages, a press kit, and letters of support.
My Grant Was Approved! Now What?
Wow. Music funding is heading your way and you’re ecstatic. Rightfully so. Is that all there is to this grant thing? Nope. You still have two major obligations to fulfill.
1) Focus on Completing Your Grant. Remember all those things you said you wanted to do in your grant proposal? Well, it’s time to get to work on achieving those goals. Make sure you use your initial funding wisely by staying on budget, and pay attention to reporting deadlines, which are critical for receiving any remaining funding.
2) Include Thank You Acknowledgements. All funding recipients are required to include a public thank you notice with promotional materials. Typically, the thank you is in English and French.
Starting a career in the music business comes with plenty of challenges, but thanks to Canadian music grants, money doesn’t have to be one of them. Tapping into available funds and writing a great grant application can open doors for aspiring musicians.