Making a living as an artist can be hard, and having to keep down a day job while still working to fulfill your musical potential isn't a juggling act everyone can keep up. For a fortunate few, however, there are fellowships and grants that can give you the opportunity to live comfortably and massively expand your creative abilities at the same time.
Guest post by Angela Mastrogiacomo of Soundfly's Flypaper
Have you ever imagined that you’d stumble across an opportunity that would enrich your music career and change your life? A learning opportunity that could open your eyes to new experiences, all while offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grow and network?
The right fellowship or grant can do exactly that. They are marketing opportunities that get your name and music in front of a consortium of connected industry players, and they’re networking opportunities, helping you develop relationships and collaborations with artists from all over the world. And here’s the other thing about applying to grants and fellowships: You may not win one on your first or second try, but just applying is a great opportunity to get constructive feedback on your musical work and application writing skills. Grantmaking institutions will often work with the applicants to help you write stronger applications year after year, maximizing your chances of success and offering feedback that almost always leads to improvement.
At Soundfly, we’re of course firm believers in the power of constructive and supportive feedback. Through both our Mainstage online courses and our Headliners Club program, you’ll be able to spend up to 8 weeks working with a professional coach on your musical skills and business practices, whether your goal is to learn and improve, or to gather honest feedback and support.
Today, we’ve compiled 15 incredible opportunities that just might be the perfect fit for you and your music. Check them out below and good luck!
1. Berklee Fellowships for Graduate Students
Berklee College of Music needs no introduction — but did you know they offer funded fellowships for grad students? They have a few different ones, including BerkleeICE Fellowships which fund internships with select employers in new media, tech, and various creative industries, Global Fellowships which support internships abroad at nontraditional music companies (how amazing does that sound?!), and Wachter Fellowships which supports experiential learning and networking opportunities in Los Angeles.
They also have funded programs specifically for Berklee grad students, including year-long opportunities at Berklee’s Boston and Spain campuses, and semester-long teaching opportunities at Berklee partner schools around the world.
2. PRS Foundation
PRS is one of the largest organizations of its kind offering grants to UK artists and producers of all levels. Two of their current grants include the Open Fund for Music Creators, which helps songwriters and composers of all genres and career stages, and the Women Make Music grant, which aims to break down stereotypes within the music industry and promote the role models of the future, by supporting female songwriters and composers across genres.
Deadline: Various (Check your opportunity’s deadline here.)
3. Beebe Fund for Musicians Grants
Offering a $22,000 stipend, as well as travel and accommodations support for one full year the Beebe Fund grant is an opportunity for wanderlusting classical performers and composers to keep an eye on. The Frank Huntington Beebe Fund for Musiciansawards grants to U.S.-based musicians (though not necessarily U.S. citizens) who are at the beginning of their professional lives and who have not yet had an extended study abroad experience. They require applicants to demonstrate examples of previous accomplishments and to be no older than 29 when receiving the award.
Deadline: December 17, 2018
4. New Music USA
New Music USA offers a few different grants depending on who you are and where you’re at. One current option is the Jazz Gallery Fellowship available for mid-career artists. That fellowship offers financial support as well as a two-week compositional sabbatical.
Jazz not your thing? They also offer project-specific grants for individuals and organizations, a Music Alive program that supports composer-in-residence positions in orchestras, and the Impact Fund, which supports and promotes small, artist-driven ensembles, presenters, and venues based in NYC.
Deadline: January 31, 2019 (Project grants)
5. The Alice M. Ditson Fund
With two different grants offered, one for organizational support and one for recording projects, they support organizations, festivals, and conferences with the former, and young, unknown American composers with the latter.
Deadline: November 15, 2018 (for summer festivals, conferences, and recording projects), April 15, 2019 (for professional performing ensembles and institutions)
6. Stanford Arts Fellowship with Warner Music Group
Before you can apply for this fellowship, courtesy of Stanford University, you’ll need to be enrolled in Stanford (any major) and take a course titled “The Changing World of Popular Music.” Then, you’ll be eligible for a 10-week paid in-house assignment at Warner Music Group where you’ll be given a customized assignment in a department based on your specific interests. Focus areas include, but are not limited to, business, social responsibility and impact, marketing, and software engineering.
Deadline: currently on hiatus (but will resume in 2020!)
7. McKnight Artist Fellowships
This Minnesota-based fellowship is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. The McKnight Artist Fellowship Program provides annual cash awards of up to $25,000 to outstanding mid-career Minnesota artists. The awards are unrestricted, so they can be used for anything, from taking time to study, experiment, explore, and more. They’re open to performing musicians in any genre and are co-supported, in music, by the American Composers Forum and the MacPhail Center for Music.
Deadline: Passed (but keep an eye on the website, applications should be accepted again in the spring of 2019.)
This is a fantastic opportunity for NY organizations interested in producing chamber music, choral music, jazz, opera, and orchestral music, as well as for community schools and nonprofit music organizations and musicians. In fact, in 2018, they’ve already awarded over $3 million via 219 grants to 207 different organizations. So there’s a lot of opportunity here.
Deadline: Passed (but more coming soon, check the website!)
9. National Endowment for the Arts
Providing grants to musical organizations, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) also offers a limited number of jazz fellowships for master musicians whose contributions to jazz are worthy of national recognition. Keep an eye on this one, as their organization grants average between $20,000 and $25,000 with the NEA Jazz Master Fellowships at $25,000.
10. Academy of Country Music: Lifting Lives Grant
Here’s a grant that’s all about improving lives through music. They fund programs that promote education and healing via music, such as artist-in-residence programs, repair of instruments, and music therapy.
Deadline: Passed (check back soon!)
11. Atlantic Music Festival Fellowships
Open to instrumentalists, composers, conductors, and opera singers, fellows of the Atlantic Music Festival will receive coverage of tuition, housing, and meals for their four weeks of residency. During those four weeks, Fellows will be included as featured performers in recitals and chamber concerts and as members of the orchestra. They’ll also have ample opportunities to collaborate with AMF’s artist-faculty members and others within the festival — talk about networking galore!
Deadline: February 1, 2019
12. Musicians Foundation
This organization is doing some incredible work. Their grants go to musicians of any genre/instrument who are in a time of serious strife due to personal, medical, or family crisis, or natural disaster. While there are a few requirements, like needing to have worked as a professional musician for at least 5 years in the United States, it’s an incredible opportunity for those who are serious about their craft, but down on their luck.
Deadline: Open and rolling
13. A Blade of Grass
“Our fellowship program is meant to support courageous artists in creating exchanges, experiences, and structures that highlight seemingly intractable social problems, inspire audiences, and energize folks to participate in and sustain long-term social change work.”
That’s why A Blade of Grass supports their fellows with $20,000 in minimally restricted support, field research reports that utilize action research methodology, a 2-day expense paid orientation retreat in NYC where you’ll be able to engage with other artists and ABOG staff, invites to twice-annual networking events, and ongoing promotion of your projects through ABOG’s social media and website. Talk about hitting the jackpot!
To be eligible you must be a US citizen or resident, at least 25 years of age, and an artist who believes their project has the capacity to effect social change and make the world a better place.
Deadline: November 16, 2018
14. Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation
The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation offers grants for artists who need a little extra support in exploring and perfecting their craft through touring, building their audience, and general career development. They have a few different opportunities, including a grant to support travel and accommodations for US artists invited by festivals abroad, creative fellowships, and a French-American Cultural Exchange that supports French jazz artists traveling to the US and vice versa.
Deadline: November 30, 2018 and April 3, 2019 (for USArtists International grants)
15. Luminarts Cultural Foundation
Luminarts offers a slew of fellowship opportunities in visual arts, classical music, jazz music, and creative writing for artists in the Chicago area. If you’re a musician between 18 and 30 who lives within 150 miles of the Chicago loop and are either currently enrolled in or a graduate of a degree program, conservatory, or other professional artist development program, you can apply for their residency program. In 2019, $52,000 will be awarded to several classical musician applicants in total, and $30,000 in total to jazz musician applicants.
They also offer project grants for their Luminarts Fellows, and high school jazz program grants (also restricted to young musicians in the Chicago area).
Deadline: February 8, 2019
This article was written by Soundfly Mentor Angela Mastrogiacomo. If you’re interested in working with Angela on your next music project, fill out this form to tell us about your goals, and be sure to mention her name in your response! Learn more about Headliners Club mentorship and coaching here.