I see applying for grants as formulating a business plan with a $5-$15,000 carrot dangling at the end. I hate doing them but they make a world of difference and provide us with that all important cash flow so we don’t need to keep hitting up friends, family and partners for funding (not so great for the ol’ self esteem after a while).


At our workshops we spend a lot of time looking at the steps needed in planning your next music project before you start. Here are some tools you can use to get clear about what you are going to do with a particular focus on applying for grants. For music touring, recording projects and creating new work check out your local government and even local council as well as these guys who provide funding for all states and territories Creative Victoria and Australia Council.

1. Before beginning any project get clear about what it is you actually want to do/create. Sit with a band mate or business partner and talk it out loud while they take notes. Get some feedback and see if/where there are any holes (vagueness) in your plan.

2. As you list the ACTIONS you will need to take toward fulfilling your plan/goal it will become apparent where you most likely need to spend some cash. So now you can go about meeting with appropriate people and getting quotes. Make sure to get three quotes for any one job (i.e. three quotes from CD pressing facilities) this will make sure you don’t overspend on a project and teach you about the different service providers out there.

3. Now that you have a realistic overview of what your project is going to cost and you have these figures ON PAPER and IN QUOTE FORM. You are ready to put together a working spending plan (budget is such a restrictive word) for your project.

4. Now to the TIMELINE. It’s very important to be REALISTIC and not apply crazy amounts of pressure on yourself. The most important thing is that you keep your timeline flexible, so if plans change you don’t need to have a melt down. Creativity needs focus, but too much pressure can cause stress which transfers into procrastination and depression. Remember creative projects are much more fulfilling when you are having FUN.

Your PLANNING should incorporate these basic things:

1. What am I going to do?
2. How do I plan to do it?
3. What will it cost me to do it?
4. What are the benefits and outcomes of doing this for career longevity?

This is pretty much what every funding body grant application is going to ask you. They want to see that you are a) Living in reality b) Planning ahead c) Aware of exactly what you need to do in order to complete your project.

When you begin any kind of grant application make sure to:

1. Read the guidelines for eligibility.

2. Read the guidelines for eligibility.

3. Read the guidelines for eligibility and underline anything you don’t understand.

4. Call up the project officer and ask them about the things you don’t understand. Their contact number will be on the application and answering your queries is one of the tasks they are getting paid for.

5. Make sure your budget BALANCES in both income and expenditure.

6. Get someone to read over your budget who has experience with financial planning (even a family member who sets up budgets for work projects).

7. Be honest about where you are in your career, the panel are usually artists and industry practitioners who have a good understanding of the scene and where you likely fit into it, so there is no need to oversell yourself.

8. Be very clear about how this project is an important step in your career and the benefits that will come from completing this project. Let us see that you have a long-term goal for your creative aspirations – a VISION.

9. Start your grant early and do a little bit often rather than doing it all the day before. You’ll be less likely to leave things out of your application this way. Remember you need to send music, bios, support material and quotes for most grants so give yourself PLENTY of TIME.

10. Even if you don’t get the grant you have a BUSINESS PLAN at the end of the process. You will be clearer about how you can make your next music project and be less likely to run into debt. Call the project officer and ask if there were areas you could improve in your next application, they are also paid to do this! It can take a few go’s before you get it right. Don’t give up.