Posted: Apr 6, 2020
Category: Tips & Tricks
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**Guest post by Kristen Ford, Nashville based indie rock act with a passion for music business and a book on DIY touring in the works.
Happy April! I make most of my income playing live gigs across the country, about 120 shows or so a year. Most of my highest paying gigs take place during the months of May, June (Happy Pride!) July and August. Seeing as so many gigs are canceled, with business as usual impossible due to coronavirus social distancing, I am trying to make the most of this unfortunate situation. If you are a musician like me, whether you are self employed, have a small business with a few employees or just do music part time and are still missing some of your income due to Coronavirus cancelations, I hope some of these resources will be helpful.
Before you begin, this will be easiest from a computer and not a cell phone. If you can access a printer, print out applications and then use the app “Scannable” to create PDFs to upload right from your phone. If you don’t have a printer, see about adding to the forms in pdf form and doing a ‘save as’ with your information completed. You may want to gather bank information, forms of identification, a copy of your lease, and documentation supporting canceled shows, lost income you were expecting such as past years tour dates (lookup on bandsintown or songkick). A bio, accolades, awards, work history and any industry affiliations such as ASCAP, BMI, Indie on the Move, Labels, Distrokid, etc.
#1 Negotiate with your bill collectors. Call your credit card companies first, they may lower your interest rate for a few months or waive the minimum payment on a month to month basis. Call your utilities, landlord, mortgage lender, car loan, student loans or any other debts you may have. I told them my income was affected and saw what could be done. The trickiest part was navigating
#2 Cut the fat. Are you paying for anything right now you can cut back on? Take a hard look at recurring expenses and reduce what is not needed.
#1 File for Unemployment Insurance. I did this in my home state of TN. I’m sure each state has their own system. You will need your bank checking and routing #s, several forms of identification, employment and payment history. I stumbled my way through the process, there were a few confusing points but I figure just get your claim filed and get in there, perhaps an agent can be assigned to your case and straighten out any wrinkles later. Be sure you check back in on the process and save things like account #s and login information. Some unemployment requires weekly engagement. If you did mostly Lyft or Uber and some music, or mostly bartending and some music, you are better off filing under the one place you earned most of your income.
#2 Money from the CARES Act. If you are a small business you may qualify for a loan from CARES Act. If you are an individual, you should have $1,200 in your bank account whenever the IRS sends the funds. You can check the information on your 2019 tax return (or if you haven’t filed yet, your 2018 return) is correct in terms of account #s for direct deposit and mailing address. No action should be required to get these funds.
#3 Small Business Administration Covid-19 Disaster Loan. Government assistance for small businesses to individual sole proprietors. Fairly fast form to complete.
#4 Look into your local government relief channels- could be on a state or city level. There could be free food, rent or medical assistance among other things.
#1 Insurance companies. Contact your instrument insurance, rental insurance, liability insurance or otherwise. They might be able to send you something to help.
#2 Sell something. Musical Instruments hold their value pretty well. Is there anything you can sell on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist? Or put it up on Reverb and ship it out? Remember to practice social distancing when buying and selling things.
#3 Register your songs with your P.R.O. (ASCAP, BMI). Register past performances with your PRO, you might have some live performance royalties coming. Check your CDbaby, Distrokid, Bandcamp, Youtube creators or any other account where you might be owed some royalties or sales. Sign up for SoundExchange, they may have some internet music earnings for you.
#4 Digitize your music business as much as possible!
Check in with any union you might be part of as they could have specific funds for existing members. Many grants and funds have already been closed already due to overwhelming demand. I recommend applying for help sooner than later as we don’t know how long this crisis will last. All of these should be active as of posting this.
#1 The Actors Fund (musicians count as entertainers here, as long as you have 5 years earnings in the music industry).
#3 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants. For anyone involved in contemporary music. Fairly long application.
#4 MusiCares. Apply for a Covid grant up to $1,000. For people earning their income in music over the past 5 years. Download and complete a form.
#5 Artist Relief Project. A one time $200 grant- fairly simple & quick form. For any artist in any discipline whose income has been impacted by COVID19.
#6 Artist Relief Tree. $250 grants. Currently full, but you can sign up for the wait list.
#7 Freelancers Fund. Opens April 2
#8 Larossa Music Group. Provides grants up to $20,000 for professionals in music. The page is in Spanish. Using google chrome hit “translate” to english.
#9 Leveler. Ask to receive a peer to peer grant. Or give if you are able. Very easy and fast!
#10 Musicians Foundation. For musicians! Grants up to $200.
#11 Music United. Peer to peer. Fill out a survey online and then it will be posted publicly to see who wants to donate.
#12 Patreon “what the fund". For artists disrupted by Covid-19. Fill out a simple questionnaire. Applications are open through April 15th.
#13 Facebook small business grants. They will be awarding 30,000 small businesses grants.
#14 Sound Royalties. Offering no cost royalty advances. For songwriters earning royalties.
#15 Soze Fund for Artists and Activists. Currently full, but you can sign up for the waitlist.
#16 Symphonic Distribution. Fund for independent artists. You do not have to use Symphonic as your distributor to apply, but you do need to be on Spotify as an artist.
#17 Twenty Summers. Emergency Arts Fund for artists (up to $500) and arts organizations (up to $1k) suffering from unexpected and unmanageable financial loss as a result of the Coronavirus. Click on Nominate artist or arts organization link.
Genre Specific Funds:
#1 The Jazz Foundation’s Musicians’ Emergency Fund. They serve Jazz, Blues and Roots musicians.
#2 Bluegrass Trust Fund. For Bluegrass music professionals of all varieties-bluegrass, not any style of music.
#3 Gospel Music Trust. For gospel/praise music professionals. Write to them a letter with your story for possible funding.
#4 The Blues Foundation. For Full time blues musicians.
#7 Bagby. For Opera and Classical musicians.
Demographic Specific Funds:
#1 Arts Leaders of Color Emergency Fund. There is a link in the gofundme and simple form to complete.
#2 CERF. The Artists Safety Net - currently just for those who are seriously ill with Covid-19 medical conditions.
#3 Live Nation Crew Fund - for crew in the music industry.
Funds based on location:
#1 Billboard has a huge list plus state by state resources - scroll halfway down this page.
#2 Boston Artist Relief Fund. For Boston Massachusetts based Musicians.
#3 Passim Emergency Relief Fund If you have performed or taught at a Passim facility in the past 10 years. Giving up to $500.
#4 Springboard for the Arts. Minnesota artists only.
#5 New Orleans Musicians Clinic. New Orleans based artists only.
#6 Help Musicians. MUST be UK Resident. For Professional musicians/self employed/earn over 50% of income from music.
#7 Unison. Fund MUST be Canadian.
We are all in this together! By watching a friends live stream, commenting and tipping, by purchasing something from a venue/bar/restaurant that is currently closed you can help them weather this storm, by putting out content for free and allowing your fans to give if they can, we can all come together as a society around this.
Stay healthy and rock on! Can’t wait to see you back out there on the road!
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