Canadian Musician - January/February 2023 - Page 11

ment program . The program offers a $ 2,000 subsidy toward one year of artist development activities , which can include recording , touring , showcasing , video production , and marketing . It is intended to provide development support to emerging artists specifically .
“ It ’ s for artists who have less than three years of recording experience ,” Schichter says . “ It ’ s a really simple application to write and you can use it for anything you want , so it kind of just helps ease the budget a little bit for an entire year .”
While Schichter regularly works as a grant writer for hire , he agrees that hiring someone like him isn ’ t always necessary , as artists often possess the skills to perform this task themselves , if they have the confidence to do so and the time it requires . There are a few scenarios in which it makes sense to hire a professional grant writer though , he says , such as when an artist is going out on tour and isn ’ t able to take on another time-consuming activity on top of everything else they have to do . Another is when an artist simply isn ’ t aware of which grants suit their needs and where they should be applying .
“ I know for me personally , when I work with an artist you talk about which grants you might want to go for that might not be coming up in a couple months , but maybe you make a play in six months ’ time when there ’ s a grant opportunity and that ’ s the one you go for , and you talk about like the marketing process , which activities and which initiatives will yield the best results ,” Schichter says . “ Anyone can write a grant on their own and it really just comes down to the time commitment .”
For artists who are applying to individual grants for their projects , Schichter says there are two big things associations are looking for .
“ Every application is slightly different ,” he explains . “ A touring-specific grant is going to look very different than a marketing or a video grant , but there will usually be two main components , the first being the budget , which will include your expenses and potential revenue , then the rest will be made up of a marketing plan or a questionnaire that ’ s really specific to that grant . But they ’ ll all have the things that they want you to answer about the goals of your project .”
Schichter admits that describing a project ’ s purpose is what he finds to be the most difficult part of writing a grant , saying it ’ s hard to not give the obvious answer that could apply to anyone . Anyone writing a grant is likely doing so to further their musical career and expand their audience , so leaving it at that won ’ t make any grant stand out , and Schichter encourages artists to get more specific with the details of where they want a grant to take them , whether it ’ s certain streaming numbers , gig turnouts , or anything else .
“ You have to be strategic about what your purpose is , and what makes this project more important than the next person applying ,” he says .
Another thing music grants almost always ask for is the music itself . Some require finished projects , while demos work for others . Specific to the FACTOR Artist Development grant , the quality of the recording you submit doesn ’ t matter so much , especially if you ’ re asking for money to record a song , EP , or album professionally , but the grant does not accept anything released prior to the application .
“ You ’ d probably understand if you ’ re reading the grant that if they ’ re submitting a phone recording or a low budget recording , they ’ re probably asking for money to record that professionally , and if they submit a mastered , finished production and they ’ re saying this song ’ s coming out in a few weeks , chances are the application is geared towards asking for marketing money to promote that project ,” Schichter continues . “ I definitely recommend [ spending ] some time with the demo . It ’ s fine if you don ’ t have access to recording equipment but I know for me personally , I listen to the demo first before I read the written portion , just because I want to make sure that just because someone might not know the best course of action for their marketing plan , if it ’ s a good song I want to hear that recorded . I don ’ t want good art to go to waste just because someone doesn ’ t know how they ’ ll market it six months from now . Make sure that your instruments are in tune and the vocalist is giving an incredible performance on it , but it ’ s fine if it ’ s a phone recording .”
As a FACTOR juror himself , Schichter also has a wealth of knowledge on how to judge a grant to deem whether it will be successful . Grants typically contain a scoring sheet in the program guidelines , which is the same scoring sheet jurors will be using to assess the application and making their decisions based on .
“ Constantly refer back to the scoring sheet when you ’ re writing a grant , and think about it like a job application ,” Schichter advises . “ When you ’ re reworking your cover letter or resume you ’ re constantly going to pull language from the job application into your cover letter or resume , so continually refer back to the scoring sheet
when you ’ re writing and you can see how everything is weighted too , so you kind of know what to focus on and where you concentrate most of your efforts . You might think something is really important but if it ’ s only worth five or ten points out of a hundred , don ’ t focus on that .”
Having access to a scoring sheet helps immensely with the process of grant writing but is something of an underused resource ; despite them being publicly available to applicants , some are not aware that they can use the scoring sheets to help them in their grant writing process , and those who are leveraging that resource have an advantage .
“ Once you have access to that , it ’ s a huge upper hand on artists who aren ’ t looking at the scoring sheets when writing grants ,” Schichter says , noting that different associations go into different levels of detail with their scoring sheets , but they are always valuable to look over and refer back to throughout the process .
Additional advice Schichter gives is to look for grants that may have lower applicant pools , such as grants from city music associations , rather than national ones . With these , he says it can often even be easy to connect with someone to have a conversation and ask questions for anything an artist might be unsure of . There are music grants being awarded all the time from national , provincial and municipal-level associations , so look for the ones in your area , do some research into what they require , and start applying !
Manus Hopkins is the Assistant Editor of Canadian Musician .