COVID-19 Relief for Musicians – Where to Find It and How to Apply

Musicians: we know you are probably struggling due to the Coronavirus right now, but have hope – there is assistance out there for you. We’ve compiled for you a list of relief funds and basic directions as to how to apply for each one, as well as some general information about each. There are a few lists out there and we’ve combed through them to find which ones are still taking applications and have distilled a few links and directions to make connecting you to these relief efforts as simple as possible. Alternatively, if you have the means and feel moved to help, this is a list of relief efforts for musicians that can use your support.

Generally, when drafting your application to any of these, make sure to have a clear understanding of what the evaluator is looking for and write in a way that directly addresses the questions you were asked.  A little bit of research can go a long way in making your application stand out. Taking the first on the list as an example (Artist Relief), read carefully how they define the key terms in the requirements and the FAQ (i.e. “practicing artist” or “dire financial emergencies”) and write a clear explanation as to how you are a practicing artist experiencing a dire financial emergency.  Know that they are receiving a lot of submissions, so make it direct and to the point.  Make it easy for them to read your answer and take away a definitive “yes, you qualify.” 

For instance, they define “practicing artist” as “individuals making a living from their work, independently OR commercially; AND anyone whose livelihood and/or community depends upon the ability to make, exhibit, perform, publish, or sell artwork; AND culture bearers or community organizers who self-define as artists.” Give a straightforward example and/or explanation of every aspect of your career and artistry that applies. 

Artist Relief

https://www.artistrelief.org/

Artist Relief is a national coalition of small to mid-sized arts grantmakers with the purpose of offering emergency relief to artists all over the United States. It will operate through September and is constantly monitoring the impact of this pandemic and accepting donations for the cause. It is evaluating applications in association with cultural non-profits across the country to evaluate the eligibility and need of each applicant.

From the website:

“Artist Relief will distribute $5,000 grants to artists facing dire financial emergencies due to COVID-19; serve as an ongoing informational resource; and co-launch the COVID-19 Impact Survey for Artists and Creative Workers, designed by Americans for the Arts, to better identify and address the needs of artists.”

ArtistRelief.org

To be eligible for a relief grant, applicants must be:

  1. Practicing artists able to demonstrate a sustained commitment to their work, careers, and a public audience;
  2. Experiencing dire financial emergencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  3. 21 years of age or older;
  4. Able to receive taxable income in the U.S. (e.g. citizen, green card holder, and/or permanent resident who can provide a W9 and SSN or ITIN);
  5. Residing and working in the U.S. for the last two years;
  6. Not a full-time employee, board member, director, officer, or immediate family member of any of the coalition partners;
  7. Not previously awarded a relief grant from this fund.

Apply online here:  https://artistrelief.submittable.com/submit

Artist Relief Project

Artist Relief Project is a support effort run by Artly World, a nonprofit with the purpose of empowering children, families, and communities through the arts. It is accepting donations and distributing funds to artists in need. They are offering a short-term stipend of $200 and long-term support programs for sustainable economic opportunities. 

From their website:

“Any artist in any discipline who has been impacted by COVID19-related cancellations and closures may apply for assistance. Stipends and support will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis, with the only limitation being how much money we are able to raise.”

ArtistReliefProject.org

The only requirements are (1) you demonstrate you’re an artist by sharing your resume and website, where applicable, and (2) you share this fundraiser with your own networks and provide a screenshot of that activity.

Apply here:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd8J27Kg1LaCAQPGscBWYCjrq00vhb-kO8Faal5sukfFl54zQ/viewform

This requires a resume and website showing that you are an artist and a display that you’ve shared this fundraiser with your social network. If you need help putting a resume together, there a multitude of examples and resources available on google, but in general, just keep it factual, chronological, and to the point. What did you do, when, for who, and for how long? Draft it, share the fundraiser with your friends, and submit. 

American Federation of Musicians

https://afm47.org/relief.html

If you’re a member of either Local 47 or American Federation of Musicians (AFM), you can apply for relief through those organizations. AFM is a national union for working musicians and has been doing amazing work for them for over one hundred years. If you work regularly as a performing or recording musician, you should look into a membership. 

If you’re already a member, they will cover you for $75 per missed gig for up to two missed gigs. Just put in the date and the employer’s name to apply.

Equal Sound

Equal Sound is comprised of dedicated advocates of classical music is primarily involved in curating experiences that connect classical music with other genres to introduce new audiences with classical music. They have established a relief fund for musicians that have had canceled gigs.

Requirements from their website are as follows:

  • Be a human and a musician who had a confirmed gig canceled due to coronavirus that you are not getting paid for
    • Fill out the info below
    • Upload your W9 (see the above paragraphs about security)
    • Upload evidence that you had this gig confirmed and then canceled IN A SINGLE PDF (see below)
    • Please wait until you’ve received a payment to apply for another canceled gig.

Disbursements are on a first-come-first-serve basis.  Apply through the link above.

Gospel Music Trust Fund

http://www.gospelmusictrustfund.org/

The Gospel Music Trust Fund has been working to help artists involved in gospel music since 1983 and is still very much engaged in its mission during this pandemic. If a substantial portion of your income is from gospel music and you are in need of help, you should write to them. 

There is no formal application. They want to hear your story and they may help you out. 

Apply to: The Gospel Music Trust Fund, Post Office Box 932, Brentwood, Tennessee 37024

The Haven Foundation

The Haven Foundation was established to help freelance artists, a demographic who often have little or no financial cushion, who have found themselves unable to work due to disease or accident.  Please note that “applications from commercial artists, bloggers, crafters, hobbyists, medical writers, commercial artists, or those who work in the arts but serve solely in a technical support capacity, as well as any artist whose work did not constitute the primary source of their income for several years will not be accepted.”

If you make more than 40% of your income through freelance artistry, you should check this one out.  Be sure to read the criteria and the application carefully and ensure your application is complete. You can download the application PDF here:  http://www.thehavenfdn.org/application/. Once it’s complete, deliver it to The Haven Foundation, PO Box 128, Brewer, Maine 04412-0128 so it arrives no later than July 17, 2020. If it’s late, any relief you may receive will be delayed. 

Safety Net Fund

https://medium.com/@safetynet/the-safety-net-fund-20040273d291

This is a relief fund for artists in the bay area in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They prioritize artists that make their living at events and retail stores, such as performing artists, musicians, visual artists, event producers, and others. They are offering grants of up to $500 to help artists survive and keep creating. 

The following requirements are from their website:

  1. The grantee must reside in the Bay Area (See attached list of eligible zip codes)
  2. The grantee must provide proof of artistic endeavor within the last 6 months
  3. The grantee must not be eligible for unemployment
  4. The grantee must have less than $1000 of income within the last 30 days
  5. Grants will be evaluated in the order received.

Application form his here:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd1hohQ84yDYosDiN_Z6YuEJwYvzZzD1quJyIC6ip0iEc-Iog/viewform

The Jazz Foundation offers a wide variety of support to the musical community including housing, medical, and disaster relief assistance to musicians. If you are a blues or jazz musician in crisis, reach out to an advocate at The Jazz Foundation at the bottom of the website linked above and they may be able to help you out.

MusiCares

https://www.grammy.com/musicares/get-help/covid-19-relief-fund-faq

In addition to its many other endeavors, The Recording Academy is offering support for musicians who have lost money from canceled gigs through MusiCares. MusiCares was founded to provide a safety net for musicians in need. You just need to prove you have lost money due to canceled bookings and provide them biography, resume, or discography along with your complete application. They are providing grants up to $1000. 

Application:  https://www.grammy.com/sites/com/files/covid-19_relief_app_2020_revisedv2_003.pdf

Scan and email it to MusiCaresRelief@MusiCares.org or fax it to (615) 327-0876

Opry Trust Fund

The legendary country music show, The Grand Ole Opry, has established a fund for country musicians in need that has distributed more than $2 million in aid since its inception. They define their eligibility requirements as follows:

The Opry Trust Fund provides financial assistance in times of extraordinary need, emergency, or catastrophe to individuals who are or have been employed full time in a facet of the country music industry (i.e. performer, songwriter, publisher, radio, session musician, etc.).

The Opry Trust Fund is not able to assist in situations of financial need that result solely from lack of employment, poor sales and/or poor business practices.

Email oprytrustfund@opry.com with the subject “Assistance Request”

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund

https://www.sweetrelief.org/covid-19-fund.html

The Sweet Relief Musicians Fund was established to provide financial assistance to all kinds of career musicians that need it. They fundraise through benefit concerts to help artists facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. Note that you do not need to be sick to be eligible for assistance from their COVID-19 relief fund.

If at least 50% of your income is from working within the music community and you have lost money due to either sickness of canceled gigs, apply to this. The link above also has a guide on how to raise money for yourself and others through their program.

Application:  https://www.sweetrelief.org/request-assistance.html

For general information on resources during this time, LA County Arts and Americans For The Arts have compiled these lists and this helpful government aid chart: 

https://www.lacountyarts.org/article/covid-19-resources

https://www.americansforthearts.org/by-topic/disaster-preparedness/coronavirus-covid-19-resource-and-response-center#impact

Stay safe out there.

Written by

Michael is an entertainment attorney at Ramo Law PC specializing in music, film and television as well as a guitarist and former guitar tech.