Subsidy / Cultural funding for emerging artists/CD release

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by FerK, May 25, 2018.

  1. FerK


    Dec 11, 2011
    Folks, I'm going to release my band's first album in mid October. It's fully recorded and mixed, and we'll be paying some $1500 for mastering. After that it'll be around $1000 for CD pressing 1000 pieces, and we'll organize a CD launch show, which will be barely profitable. We're still looking at 2.5 grand of costs from the band account, which is more than we have at the moment.

    So we're looking for sponsorships, that will contribute with maybe 500 bucks. So we looked around, and learned that there are a handful of organizations, mostly government/community foundations, that support cultural activities.

    I filled in a form, and am preparing a little dossier explaining what it's all about: why we think we deserve a small grant, what it will cover, how it will be recognized, a small business plan that details how the financials, and maybe a bit of the cultural aspect of why "we matter".

    Anybody got any experience to share on the topic? The good and the bad? Ideas that I could use to increase my chances of success?

    As always, thank you for your thoughts !
  2. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    I can't speak for Switzerland, but in my state in the US, the grants i tend to see are for public art fixtures or things that the general public could enjoy. I would highly doubt a band would qualify to get the money, but who knows.

    Wishing you luck!
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    So you are a band looking to release your album and hopefully make some sales, get some gigs and make money. Why should that be covered by a non-profit entity's cultural grants?
    Last edited: May 25, 2018
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  4. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Careful, my friend. Questions like these could cross some lines.

    Sure, it's the obvious question. But the conversation can't be had without breaking rules.
  5. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I will edit.
  6. Mushroo

    Mushroo Guest

    Apr 2, 2007
    Hi @FerK, I see from your profile that you are in Switzerland, whereas I live in the USA. So my experience might not be at all applicable. But here I go anyways. ;)

    In a previous job, I used to work for my state's cultural council. If you lived here in Massachusetts and wanted to access state funding for the arts, my advice to you would be to find an educational angle and bring your music into schools and youth organizations. In particular, if you have a proven track record of providing meaningful cultural enrichment to at-risk youth, low-income families, people with disabilities, etc. you have a decent chance of receiving state funding to support your continuing mission.

    The state agency I worked for was legally required to be transparent in its decision process. We would provide on request, not only a list of past grant recipients and amounts, but also a list of the specific criteria that were used for the decision making. Often, first-time applicants would hire an experienced grant writer to help them understand the process. And so that would be my recommendation to you, if you are serious about this, is to sit down with a successful past grant recipient and ask them questions about the process.

    However, be aware that government-funded grant programs have strict application deadlines. The deadline for 2018 grants is long past, and the application deadline for the 2019 cycle is coming up soon.

    Let me know if you have any questions. I'm happy to share my experience in the field. :)
    Last edited: May 25, 2018
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  7. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    The nearest thing to an experience like that I've had was when I was working for a public library (also in the US). The particular library had received a grant from a corporation to fund a concert series for the community. The librarian in charge of the grant money used it to bring in all sorts of acts, including at one point a classic rock cover band. The others played jazz, folk, various ethnic musics (the town has a Lithuanian community, for instance), etc. Cultural enrichment and community was sufficient.

    It isn't necessarily the case that applying for a grant would be exclusive of trying to sell CDs and concert tickets. I would generally presume, though, that to qualify for public funding you would need a strong case that the music project was artistically or culturally significant and somehow benefited and enriched the public in a way beyond simple entertainment.
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  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    Up here in Canada, we heavily support our artists. We have a system called CanCon which ensures a certain amount of Canadian artistic content. Pretty much any indie Canadian artist who tours Europe is doing so on a government grant. I know countless people who have used tour grants to go across country. The biggest one is called FACTOR. That being said, the only money I have ever received was from private companies. I never bothered applying for any of the grants but I also never cared for touring. Realistically, the tours tend to offset losses, in most cases, not cover the entire cost.
  9. FerK


    Dec 11, 2011
    Thank you all for your kind and informative answers. And Buldog, for the challenge.

    You assume that we will make money, which is NOT the case. As with 99.9% of the weekend warrior originals bands around the world, we have a daytime job, and this is our hobby (which we actually invest into, and make no money out of). I wish I could convey in a short post what the regional music scene is like. Bear with me for a few lines of text: In my region there are some 25 small towns (with a population of 3 to 15 thousand people each). There are a handful of pubs in each town, and in each town there's at least one pub that features live music regularly. The average audience size is between 10 and 30 people. And the bands in the region understand that the business is small, and it's tit-for-tat: when we draw a bigger audience, we get a bonus for our gigs. When nobody shows up, we'll pocket a hundred bucks and call it a night. So much for the profit issue. You can imagine how many CDs we will sell in the first year. I'll be VERY happy if we can sell around 300 pieces.

    Now the government topic, and why should they want to grant money to bands:

    You surely imagine the situation in my neck of the woods is VERY different to that in the US. There's no such thing as "at-risk youth" in Switzerland. And low-income families get a very decent Social Help income that allows them to live with dignity, and people with disabilities are supported through well funded government associations. Switzerland is a rather wealthy country, and the government can afford to fund emerging musicians, who would otherwise stand zero chances of success in today's market. It's done not through Federal money, but regional (BTW, there IS a Federal fund for the arts designed for national acts, that have profound cultural implications; we're just a rock band, and most of our songs are written in English :facepalm:)

    Like Diabolus mentioned right above this reply, I guess the Government's intention is to help create local content, support Swiss musicians, and foster interest in the arts. I don't pretent to speak for the government, but it's a fair assumption.
    Last edited: May 26, 2018
  10. I am aware of at least one Grammy nominated songwriter who is in part financially supported by private contributions. Some of these from people who really cannot afford to make those contributions. This is done with absolutely no intention of sharing in any potential profits earned by the songwriter. I find this practice by folks who are far from wealthy to make no sense to me. I am not questioning the songwriters contribution to their art, but I could never accept donations from folks who can't afford it just to persue my choice of hobby.

    No intent to be critical of your plans; really two different approaches involved here. Good luck with your search.

    Thump on,

    Last edited: May 26, 2018
  11. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    @FerK No I am not assuming you will make money, but based upon your original post,it appears that is your goal. At least in the US, as others have stated, these grants are intended for someone with the primary intent of helping others, which does not appear to be yours (entertaining is not it). If your music were educational, or your primary intent was music education, my opinion might be different. I love people putting out original music, but that is a private, personal, pursuit.
  12. FerK


    Dec 11, 2011
    If my original post came across as that, I apologize. That certainly was not the message, in any way. But you are right that we are not aiming at either helping others or educational purposes. It IS only entertainment. I wish you guys over in the US had the same opportunities that I guess we have over here (and apparently in Canada), where even if you're in a small band, you can get a bit of financial support to build an audience/following and get off the ground.
  13. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    . I wish you luck, and in the adhesion to TB rules, leave it there.
  14. Crowd crusher

    Crowd crusher Guest

    Jul 8, 2015
    South of beantown
    .......Packs up equipment and family....moves to Switzerland...... :)
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  15. $1500 for mastering seems like way too much. I usually pay $50 or $60 per song.