To make it in the music business, sometimes you need to put less emphasis on the music and more emphasis on the business…
Touring isn’t cheap. Recording isn’t cheap. Plane tickets, guitar strings, office space, none of this grows on trees. So until your project starts making money, you’re going to need to find some capital. Working in a pub might pay the bills day to day, but if you need to block out some serious studio time or pay for flights and visas, pulling pints probably isn’t going to cut it.
It’s hard to quantify how much the art you’re creating is worth, but luckily it’s easier to work out how much it will cost to make. Here’s a few ways of finding the funds you need to get going.
Private and Government Loans
In 2012 the UK government created the Start Ups Scheme which has since helped to fund hundreds of businesses. These are unsecured personal loans ranging from £500 to £25,000. They offer help to guide you through the application process and, on receiving the loan, you’re eligible for 12 months of free business mentoring.
Virgin Start Ups also offers loans of up to £25,000 per person, repayable over one to five years with a fixed interest rate of 6%. One of the great things about these loans is that if you’re working with a partner, you can both apply, potentially doubling the amount you receive.
To be eligible, you must be over 18 and your business has to have been running for less than twelve months. For more information, click here.
The UK has a lot of grant options available for UK artists, ranging from hundreds to thousands of pounds. Bear in mind that while you won’t have to pay the money back, you will need to account for every penny spent.
The Performing Rights Society (PRS) alone offers a variety of grants for artists at all stages of their careers, here are just a few:
Lynsey De Paul Prize: Up to £2,500 to female musicians.
The Open Fund For Music Creators: Up to £5,000 for a wide range of activities, including touring, writing and recording.
Momentum Music Fund: £5,000 – £15,000 for touring, marketing or recording.
These grants can often be stepping stones to great things, recent recipients include chart topper Sam Fender and the MOBO winning Zara MacFarlane. To learn more or apply, head over to the PRS website.
The UK Arts Council also offers grants of up to £15,000. However, as the money you’re spending will come from public funds, applicants must follow particularly stringent criteria. For example, you must have plans for distributing any recordings funded by the grant. The first step to applying is a simple quiz, click here to take it.
Applying for grants can be tough and competitive, so make sure you put together an excellent proposal and have the passion to impress whoever you’re pitching to.
From noughties breakouts like Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys through to today’s Soundcloud rappers, the internet has become essential in forging artists’ careers. Social media connects musicians and businesses to their fan-bases, allowing them to share new music and updates, so why not use it to do some fundraising?
Crowdfunding uses the internet to reach out to the public and ask them to contribute a small amount of their own money to help make your dreams come true. In return, you offer anything that you think fans might want from you – maybe some merchandise or a personalised video.
Make sure that you’re persuasive and honest, only asking when you really need the money; fans are willing to pay to support up-and-coming artists, but they have their limits. Offer great rewards that won’t break the bank and put out regular updates on how it’s going. If done properly, crowdfunding can help make you money and bring in new fans.
While PledgeMusic, a crowdfunding organisation that was set up specifically for music projects, has recently gone into administration, there are plenty of other options to choose from. If you want to try crowdfunding out, check Kickstarter, ArtistShare, IndieGoGo or Patreon.
How Can ACM Help?
So now you’ve read up on the basics of fundraising, but the music business is vast and varied and it’s important to give yourself the best footing you can.
Everyone starts at the bottom and works their way up, there’s nothing wrong with that. So if you love music but you’re not sure how to get going in the industry, the Music Business & Innovation Route at ACM’s Guildford and Birmingham campuses is what you’re looking for. The accelerated two year course gives its students the grounding they need in areas like A&R, Law and Marketing to prepare them for life in the music industry.
Alternatively, if you’re London based, then the Music Business & Innovation (Ba) may be better suited to you. The course runs for three years and students can expect to graduate with an in depth understanding of a broad range of the issues facing the modern music industry. This means that when you need to tackle anything from running events to breaking your first act to making sure your record deal is the best you can get, you’ll know what to do.
ACM strives to make itself as accessible to as many people as possible, so alongside student loans, the Academy also offers £130,000 worth of scholarships each year. It’s really simple to apply, but they all have deadlines, so don’t delay!
Getting started in the music industry is always tough, but not having the funds to get going shouldn’t be your main problem. Whether it’s through grants, loans or crowdfunding, if you’re determined enough, there’s money out there for you.