It can be challenging for musicians to make money doing what they love, especially right now as COVID continues to impact the global touring industry. While there are plenty of ways to diversify your revenue streams as a musician, one way to get funding for music projects is through grants.
There are a number of music grants in Australia that help artists get their projects funded. As a direct response to the pandemic, extra funding has also been made available to help support you at this time.
What are music grants?
Grants are financial gifts often given away by governments, educational institutions, and foundations. Grant funding for musicians based in Australia is widely available, but applicants usually have to follow a strict set of criteria to qualify for the grants.
Tips for applying for music grants in Australia
Before you start applying to every music grant on the continent, there are a few things you should think about. First off, applying to every grant you can find using the same pitch won’t work. Every grant is unique and designed to serve a different purpose. For example, there are grants specifically for touring, and others specifically for recording.
Additionally, it’s important to ensure that you present yourself professionally, as any business should. This means being clear on your goals, the steps you need to take to achieve them, challenges you face, and what makes your art unique. Having recommendations from other industry workers can be powerful in taking your application from an amateur to professionally-viable level.
Lastly, don't underestimate the time you'll need to write up the application. Finding references and researching for an accurate budget takes time. But if you do take the time to do it right, I would hazard a guess to say you’re ahead of many other applicants out there. Oh, and don’t forget to proofread and spell check!
Music grants available in Australia
The following is a list of over 50 music grants available throughout Australia. This is by no means a complete list. Australian-based entities who give away music grants are always expanding, but this is a good place to start if you’re looking for new ways to fund your music.
Note that there is a variety of ‘Quick Response Grants’ available at a state and international level which unlike most other grants, means that you only need to lodge a couple of weeks out from the date you require the funding/commence your activity.
Australia-Wide Grants: COVID-19 Specific
As a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Support Art - who are an incredible champion for mental and physical well-being in the music industry - are offering funding specifically for those affected by the pandemic by way of Crisis Relief Grants.
Levis, who offer their Levis Music Prize in conjunction with Bigsound Festival every year, has changed its structure to be able to assist more Australian and New Zealand artists at this time via the Levi’s Music Relief Fund.
The Australia Council for the Arts is a core body when it comes to grants for Australian musicians. Each year through the Arts Projects for Individuals and Groups initiative, grants of between $10,000 and $50,000 are allocated to individuals and groups for touring, recording, marketing, professional development (including mentoring), and more.
For touring-specific grants, the Contemporary Music Touring Program supports musicians performing original contemporary music and the Playing Australia: Regional Performing Arts Touring Fund supports touring in regional and remote communities. Act fast on this as applications close 2nd of March.
Fellowships are available for established artists and arts professionals, and if you want to get away to the picturesque Adelaide Hills for 10 days to focus on creating your next release, check out the UKARIA Residency (worth $10,000).
In terms of grants for recording, the PPCA Sound Recording Partnership with the Australian Council for the Arts has $15,000 on offer. The PPCA also runs a Performers Trust Foundation which can cover a variety of things such as tuition fees, and venue/PA hire.
Creatives aged between 21 and 35 can apply for the Martin Bequest Scholarship which gives young artists the chance to explore, study and develop their gifts through travel interstate or overseas.
Here’s hoping travel restrictions ease soon to re-open the Residencies, International Arts Strategy Outcomes and International Development Opportunities grants. These aren’t specifically for musicians but are still open to them.
Unsigned artists can snag $7,500 thanks to the JP Partnership which is an initiative set up by singer/songwriter, Josh Pyke, Select Music, Wonderlick Entertainment and APRA/AMCOS. You can use the funds to tour, record, to allow you to take time out to write, or make the transition to being a full-time musician, which is pretty cool.
The ABC and Triple J are offering several grants for artists of all genres from rock and hip-hop to classical and Jazz. There is even a commission opportunity to compose theme music to be used across the ABC network. Find all the details about the Australian Music Fund here.
AMP’s Tomorrow Fund, while not exclusively for the music industry, offers $1m in grants to people working hard to positively impact the community.
It should be noted that looking over the criteria for many of these grants there is a strong focus on diversity and culture which is excellent to see.
Grants for Regional Artists
Earlier I mentioned the Playing Australia: Regional Performing Arts Touring Fund which supports touring in regional communities. However, if you’re an artist who resides in a remote area, check out grants from the Regional Arts Fund (RAF) including RAF Projects Grants and RAF Quick Response Grants which are both open now.
Further information on grants for regional artists on a state-level can be found below.
Grants for Indigenous Artists
There are a range of grants available specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians and bands. The First Nations Contemporary Music Program aims to support the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists by providing professional industry-based opportunities such as training, mentoring, performing, recording and promotion.
The program is split into two categories but the one that is relevant to musicians is the Musicians and Bands Support grant which offers up to $15,000 for the creation of new works (such as singles, EPs, albums and videos), touring, or promotion.
For First Nations artists based in NSW, check out Creative Koori Projects; Round 2 of funding is open now.
If you’re based in QLD, the Queensland Government’s Backing Indigenous Artists (BIA) Initiative has dedicated a $12.6m investment towards artists of all disciplines over the next few years.
For WA artists and producers, the Aboriginal Arts Commissioning Fund has been set up.
Other funding opportunities for Indigenous musicians and bands include The Dreaming Award, Cherish II, The Red Ochre Award (Lifetime Achievement) and The Smugglers of Light Foundation ATSI Music and Media Award.
ACT artists should check out the ArtsACT website for info on grants available.
While MusicNT and Spotify collaborated on the MusicNT Create and Release Grant in 2020, unfortunately, there’s no info at this stage as to whether this will run again this year. Do look into the Creative Fellowships and Professional Development grants though.
Queensland has a few grants, but none are music-specific. Check out the Regional Arts Development Fund and if you want to tour, look into the Touring Queensland Fund and Touring Queensland Quick Response Fund. Be mindful you must include at least one regional location in your tour.
Not quite as relevant to emerging artists (due to the fact you need to prove there is a high demand for your tour) there’s also the Playing Queensland Fund available.
South Australia has several grants including from the Helpmann Academy who introduced their Creative Stimulus Grants Scheme to support emerging SA artists through COVID.
I’ve also been informed by the Project Manager of the MDO Support Grants that they’ll be announcing 2021 rounds of funding shortly, so keep an eye out.
Creatives can apply for between $2,000 and $20,000 worth of funding from Creative Victoria’s Building Audiences Fund. The City of Port Phillip supports local artists through their Creative Development Fund.
Monica Strut is a musician, heavy music fiend and “former” Myspace kid from Melbourne, Australia. After working for years as a music journalist and digital marketer, she now helps emerging bands and musicians reach the next level through her podcast, Being in a Band, coaching services and online courses. When not helping other musicians kick their goals she is writing, recording and playing in her own rock/metal band, The Last Martyr.
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