There are dozens of organizations in the USA which regularly award cash to serious artists, allowing the recipients to focus entirely on furthering their music career in some way. And unlike loans, they don't need to be paid back.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Wrong! These funding opportunities are out there for the taking, but they're very competitive. You'll need to research which ones are a good fit for you, find out when the deadlines are, and set aside plenty of time for the application process, which can be intense.
Some music grant organizations exist to help out fledgling artists, while others support more established artists. Depending on the type of grant, the funding could be used to get a new music project off the ground, record an album, or tour. Some organizations place no restrictions at all on how you can use the money.
Here are seven of our favorite music grants available in the United States to get your wheels turning. But definitely check out local opportunities in your own city or state, you never know what you might come across.
1. New Music USA
New Music USA's mission is to support and promote all kinds of musical creativity in the United States. They offer funding for music projects, support for small ensembles and DIY venues, and even provide composer-in-residence positions in orchestras.
2. Foundation for Contemporary Arts
The Foundation for Contemporary Arts was created by artists in 1963 to promote the innovative work of their peers. Today, they offer generous grants to nominated artists, as well as emergency grants ranging from $500 to $2,500 which any artist, urgently in need of funding, can apply for.
3. The Alice M. Ditson Fund
Since 1940, the Alice M. Ditson Fund has awarded over 2,000 grants in support of contemporary American classical concert music. They offer funding for recording projects, with the specific goal of providing wider exposure for the music of younger, relatively unknown American composers.
4. New York Foundation for the Arts
The New York Foundation for the Arts has a 32-year history of supporting artists at all stages of their careers. Unlike grants that fund specific projects, the unrestricted $7,000 fellowships "are intended to fund an artist's vision or voice, regardless of the level of his or her artistic development".
5. Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
Region: Delaware, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the US Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia
The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation was established to support multi-state arts programming, and has since expanded to include initiatives in other parts of the United States. The grants provide support for artists looking to create, tour, build an audience, and develop their careers.
MAAF's unique artist grant programs include creative fellowships, funding to perform at international festivals, and even a French-American cultural exchange program for jazz artists.
6. Tennessee Arts Commission
With a mission to "cultivate the arts for the benefit of all Tennesseans and their communities", the Tennessee Arts Commission offers a wide variety of annual grants for individuals, projects, arts education and more.
The Individual Artist Fellowship awards $5,000 to professional artists of all stripes, including composers. There are no specific requirements for how you use the money, but you do have to already be making a living off of music to qualify for the fellowship.
7. COLA Individual Artist Fellowship
Region: Los Angeles, CA
This fellowship is specifically for accomplished artists who either live in Los Angeles or have presented their work in the city for at least three years. The Department of Cultural Affairs grants $10,000 per artist for the creation of innovative new work.
It's hard to win a grant on your first try, but as you continue honing your craft and refining your unique artist voice, your applications will become stronger and stronger!