05 Aug 2019

How to Fund Your Music Career in 2020


Turning your music career into a full or part-time income takes dedication. The early days can be a struggle trying to scrape together enough cash to fund your expenses, whether that’s production, touring or just feeding yourself! So how can emerging artists fund their music careers?




How to raise money & fund your music career

Before we get into it, it’s worth mentioning something.

New artists are often tempted to take out bank loans or credit cards to fund the start of their careers.

Now, I’m not a financial advisor but think VERY carefully before doing anything like this early on in your career. 

Ok now that’s been said, let’s get into it.



Arts Grants & Funding Schemes

One of the best (but also one of the most difficult to acquire) ways of funding your early music career is to apply and land yourself an arts grant.

You can apply for different grants and funding depending on where you’re based. Check out our list below to see where you can apply based on your location.

UK Music Funding

PRS Foundation
Help Musicians
Arts Council England
Arts Council Wales
Creative Scotland

USA Music Funding

National Endowment for the Arts
New Music USA

While the above only covers the UK & USA, there are many more international funding schemes out there global musicians. Just search online for funding in your region.


Funding and arts grants are always extremely competitive, so you need to make sure you stand out and complete all your applications correctly. Here are some tips to help boost your chances of success.


Read through all the application guidelines carefully.

Don’t just send out random blanket applications. First, make sure you qualify and tailor your application as such. Try to understand exactly what the funder is looking for before sending anything off.


Provide a long-term plan and evidence of your success.

Funders will usually want to see a strong foundation already in place. Spell out your long-term plan in simple terms and include evidence of your career successes, whether that’s the size of your fan base, big gig bookings, other financial backers, or anything else to make you stand out.


Don’t overcomplicate your application.

Try to use simple, easy to understand language and make why you deserve the funding as clear as possible.


Take your time

Complete your application VERY carefully. Read, re-read and re-re-read the guidelines and your application itself it until you’re 100% sure it meets every requirement.




If you didn't already know, crowdfunding involves reaching out to and engaging your current fan base to help fund your next music project.

It’s a tactic used by many independent musicians, especially those with a loyal and dedicated fan base. It's a chance to give every fan a bigger stake in your career and a more personal connection to your music.

The easiest way to start a crowdfunding campaign is through an established crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter, Patreon or Indiegogo.

You don’t want to put time and effort into a crowdfunding campaign, only for it to fall short or flop. So here are some tips to help your campaign succeed.


Know exactly what you want to achieve.

Set a clear, simple goal and make sure you fans know exactly what they’re funding. Whether that’s a new album or headline tour – make it clear what they’re getting for their money.


Set a realistic target.

Most crowdfunding sites force you to pick a funding target. If you don’t reach that target, you don’t get the money. Simple as that. Don’t set an insurmountable target to avoid disappointment.  


Make a campaign video.

A video message addressing your fans and explaining your crowdfunding campaign can make all the difference. It’s an easy and effective way to connect with and engage with fans, spelling out your plans in person.


Offer incentives to funders.

Give people even more reason to offer up there hard-earned money with incentives for anyone who donates. That could be exclusive access to gig tickets, signed merchandise, quirky freebies. Whatever will work best for your listeners.


Protest The Hero launched a crowdfunding campaign with interesting incentives. Anyone who donated over $5k would be invited to perform guest vocals on the album!



Gigs & merchandise

Merch and gig ticket sales are often one of the biggest income sources for unsigned musicians. This being the case, it’s important to maximise sales if you want to cover your expenses.


Avoid pay-to-play schemes.

Playing the odd free show is fine. Every upcoming artist does it at some point. But don’t accept pay-to-play gigs, where you are asked to buy tickets up front and sell them on, potentially making a loss.


Sell merch at every show.

Set up merchandise stands at gigs as often as possible. Sell t-shirts, vinyl, stickers, badges plus anything else you think will appeal to your fans. Make it attractive and eye-catching to draw people in and make more sales. People often want a souvenir from a gig - a physical manifestation of memory. So it's prime time for merch sales.


Get a card machine.

Don’t miss out on sales by only accepting cash. You can easily pick up a cheap card machine online and you’ll quickly make this money back in sales you might otherwise have missed.


Offer discounts & incentives.

Use marketing techniques like limited-time discounts and offers to flog more merch. Offer cheaper prices to people who sign up to your mailing list or buy tickets to your gigs to reward fan loyalty.



Sell your merch to fans at every opportunity. Especially after live shows!



Streaming & download royalties

Make sure you’re getting every possible penny from your music through streaming and download royalties.

Release music on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, iTunes – everywhere you can.

If you're interested, you can find out how much streaming royalties are potentially worth by using our music streaming royalties calculator here.

If you’re not already releasing your music to the major platforms, there’s never been a better time to start. Once your music produced to a high standard and ready to release, just upload it to Ditto Music.

With Ditto, you’ll keep 100% of the royalties you earn and all the rights to your music. Get started here.





And finally... get a side hustle

This one is pretty obvious. Starting out on a new music career is tough, so chances are you’ll need a side hustle to keep yourself afloat.

It’s not unusual for artists to work a job alongside their music. In fact, practically every struggling artist does it.

The key is to keep going, work hard on promoting yourself and don’t give up!



Do you have any questions about funding your music career? Or tips for other emerging artists? Let us know in the comments below and join the discussion.