The music industry is striving for equality for female artists. There are more funding opportunities, grants, and prizes exclusively for female musicians than ever. Funding is available across the board for women who work in all areas of music, from artists to sound engineers.
PRS Foundation is one of the leading organisations who back female artists. They have multiple grants and programmes dedicated to female music creators. But the world of funding is highly competitive, so musicians need to consider all their fundraising options.
The gender disparity in music is being acknowledged and amended with the introduction of female-exclusive grants. Female artists aren’t guaranteed automatic acceptance for these grants, so it’s worth finding out more about the funding process.
Music funding for female singers
There are lots of funding opportunities out there for musicians, and female musicians exclusively. Funding can be offered by UK Arts Councils, music foundations, and charities to help music creators make it into the music industry.
Music funding schemes support musicians to break into the next level of their careers. They can provide financial support for music projects and can fund anything from time in a recording studio, working with industry professionals, to tours and performing at festivals.
The point of music funding is to help talented artists make music their full-time career. Grants can be awarded across all areas of the music industry and can offer thousands of pounds of financial support. It can be a really competitive process though, so it’s worth learning what opportunities are best suited to you before you apply.
The PRS Foundation is the UK’s leading funder of new music and talent development. They provide open grant schemes and partnership programmes to help musicians break into the industry.
Their programme is tailored to fill the gaps in funding for musicians and offer support to otherwise-overlooked artists from all backgrounds. They have several opportunities open for female artists exclusively.
In the past twenty years, PRS has funded over 7,300 new music initiatives. They’ve donated over £35 million to help musicians with showcases, music commissions and composer residencies.
PRS for music funding
PRS Foundation offers funding across all areas of music: they can give you financial support for the creation, promotion, and performance of your music. They accept applications from music organisations as well as music creators.
To qualify as a music creator on PRS, you must either be:
- A songwriter
- A composer
- An artist or band who writes/performs their own music
It’s important to note that the foundation doesn’t support performers who don’t write their own music.
Lynsey de Paul prize
The Lynsey de Paul prize is an opportunity run by the PRS Foundation exclusively for female artists. The winner is awarded a £2500 development bursary, and five runners-up each receive a £1200 development bursary.
As well as the bursary, the overall winner and runners-up each win £500 worth of mentoring from an expert in the music industry.
The prize is named after the award-winning songwriter, producer and presenter Lynsey de Paul. Lynsey was a director at PRS and knew from her first-hand experience as a singer the difficulties females experience in the music industry.
To enter the competition, you must be an emerging female songwriter based in the UK. You have to have some form of experience in writing music for an audience. Full terms and details can be found here.
Women Make Music
The PRS Foundation run another huge funding opportunity for female artists called Women Make Music. The scheme works in association with AWAL and Glastry and funds projects by women, trans and non–binary songwriters, composers, artists, bands and performers who are writing their own music.
Women Make Music strive to:
- Raise awareness of the gender gap
- Make women aware of the support available to them when making new music
- Increase the profile of women, trans, and non-binary artists in the UK
- Create female role models for future generations
If this sounds like your type of project, you can apply online. The upcoming deadlines for 2020 are on the 8th of June and 5th of October.
PRS open fund
PRS have lots of support available to female artists, but the organisation doesn’t exclusively help women break into music. PRS for Music also helps music creators of all genres, backgrounds, and artists at any stage of their career.
The Open Fund for Music Creators is one of the PRS Foundation’s leading music opportunities. To apply for the fund, music creators must meet the open fund’s 3 criteria:
- The project has to support the creation, performance and promotion of outstanding new music.
- It has to be crucial to your creative or professional development in some way(and you need tobe able to explain how.)
- It has to inspire audiences. You have to outline who your target audience is and explain how your music reaches them.
PRS momentum fund guidance notes
PPL Momentum Music Fund is open for all artists and bands in the UK. It’s not a female exclusive grant, but it’s worth applying for because it’s one of the most prestigious funding programmes the PRS foundation has to offer.
The Momentum Music Funds has a huge reputation owed to its big grant sum and its star-studded success stories. The fund offers grants of between £5k to £15k and has supported some huge stars in the industry. Years & Years, Kate Tempest, and Yungen are all previous beneficiaries of the programme.
You can apply for the Momentum Music Fund to support your marketing, touring, or recording ventures as an artist or band. It can be a little tricky to understand all the eligibility criteria when applying for grants, so you can take a look at the PRS’s Momentum Guidance page to double check if you qualify.
Funding available to music creators
The PRS Foundation may be one of the biggest UK funders for music creators, but they’re not the only financial support scheme available to aspiring musicians.
Regardless of your gender, background, or stage in your music career, there is a funding initiative out there for every artist.
These are some of the best funding opportunities for female musicians:
Keychange is looking to transform music and achieve a 50:50 gender balance in the industry by 2022. They are open to applications from all gender minority groups, including women, agender and non-binary people.
The initiative accepts applicants from emerging artists and innovators across Europe and Canada. 74 successful candidates are then selected through an Open Call process and invited to take part in international festivals, creative labs, and showcase events.
There’s no age restriction to who can apply, and Keychange opens for applications in October of every year.
#2 Rebalance Music
Rebalance acknowledge that women only represent 16% of roles in the music industry, and they have made it their mission to change this.
This is a three-year programme (running from 2018 – 2020) which supports both established and up-and-coming female artists and creators. Every month, a female band, female musician, or female solo artist is chosen to receive a week’s worth of studio recording time, as well as a slot to perform at Festival Republic or Live Nation Festival.
The programme doesn’t just help female artists; it also helps women who work in other areas of the music industry. Women who want to work in sound engineering and sound production can also be picked by Rebalance to receive studio apprenticeships.
To find out more, visit Rebalance Music’s website. It’s worth noting that you can’t apply directly for Rebalance Music’s programme; you have to be nominated by an industry expert (like a label, journalist or promoter.)
#3 Arts Council Project Grants
The Arts Council England have backed musicians on their creative ventures for years. The organisation champion creative projects across the UK and offer lots of funding schemes to support artists and arts organisations.
They change their grant schemes every few years, so they can offer support to a wide and diverse range of different projects and fields. Their current grant that music creators can apply for is the Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants.
This grant is open to applications from both male and female artists.
Open fund for music creators
Music creators might wonder what the benefits of open funding are. Receiving a grant is obviously a huge incentive to apply, but the earning-potential from receiving a grant doesn’t end there.
Female musicians, in particular, can really benefit from funding programmes. As well as a grant, female music creators who previously received a grant from Women Make Music also saw:
- A 27% increase in their income from commission and bookings
- Their annual income increase by an average of £3,513
- Over 82% more bookings for their gigs and tours
These success rates are a huge endorsement for female-dedicated funding programmes. Before they received a grant from Women Make Music, 85% of female artists said it would have been impossible for them to have made their music careers happen.
How do musicians get funding?
Applying for a grant from organisations like the PRS Foundation and the UK Arts Council is one way for musicians to get funding. But it’s not the only way, so don’t feel disheartened if your application isn’t successful.
It can be quite competitive applying for a grant, so it’s worth considering some of these other ways to get funding:
#1 Funding from charities
The MOBO Help Musicians Fund is one of the leading charity-funded opportunities for artists. This fund can offer grants of up to £2000 to help artists further their careers.
The fund can be used in any way you want to aid your creativity and career, from vocal coaching to helping you fund your tour.
#2 Fundraising and crowdfunding
If you aren’t successful with grants and charity-funding, you can give crowdfunding a go to raise money to support your music career.
Kickstarter, ArtistShare, and Patreon are some of the best-recommended crowdfunding websites to join to start your fundraising campaign. Most websites will charge a subscription fee or apply a fee to the funds you raise, so always read the small print.
#3 Doing an internship or apprenticeship in the industry
It’s not a direct route into funding, but doing an internship or apprenticeship can open up opportunities for artists to further their career just like a grant would.
By working at a music studio or interning for a record label, you can network onsite and build contacts in the industry. These industry professionals can help you launch your own music career and might even pull a few strings to let you use their equipment/studios.
Financial help for musicians
Financial support is even more crucial for musicians when they’re facing difficult times. Singers and artists worldwide have been affected by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Not only have their shows, tours and music releases been put on hold, but some music grants and artist funding schemes have been put on hold, too.
While some music grants have been suspended during the coronavirus outbreak, there’s still financial support out there for musicians. PRS for Music has set up an Emergency Relief Fund, and Arts Council England has pledged to still offer grants to musicians during the pandemic.
For more information about the funding and grants still available to musicians during the COVID-19 lockdown, take a look at this article.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How can I increase my chances of being issued a music grant?
There are three main things to consider when applying for a music grant. Firstly, is it the best time to apply? The more experience and achievements you have to support your application, the better your chances of acceptance.
Secondly, is your application the strongest it can be? Write your application like it’s a business plan, stating why they should invest in you and giving evidence to support your credibility as an artist. Make your pitch compelling but professional.
The third but most important way to increase your chances of acceptance is to carefully read all the guidelines and eligibility criteria to make sure you’re what they’re looking for.
- Is there funding available for artists who are mothers?
The MU (musician’s union) offer grants to financially support musicians who are parents. If you have a MU membership, you can apply for a maternity grant, a parental grant (available to male parents), or an adoption grant.
These grants are usually for the sum of around £250 and can only be claimed if you have been a MU member for over 2 years. Visit The Mu website for full details.
Have you tried to get a project funded with any of the above? Let us know how you got on and leave a link in the comments.