Working in music can mean an almost constant struggle to find the money to keep things going. Whether you're a band in need of money to tour or a label in need of cash to press some CDs, it seems like it is always something. Music business funding is never easy, but you do have options.
Before you seek outside funding sources, identify your needs. Figuring out a realistic budget for your project will help you keep everything running smoothly and will help your case when it's time to start applying for loans or grants. Start your project off right with understanding your costs.
Make a Business Plan
If you're going to apply for a small business loan or a grant from an arts council or another funding body, you're going to need a business plan. Even if you're planning on financing your music project with your own credit cards, writing a business plan forces you to think about the potential of your project and how you can make it happen.
Your business plan should include an overview of the project, details about the market and information about similar businesses. You need to be able to demonstrate some knowledge about your customer base/audience as well. Know what your costs will be, and be able to estimate the projected return on the funder's investment. Have at least an outline of a marketing plan, and clearly state your qualifications and credentials (i.e. experience in the biz, or formal training and schooling).
Find and Approach Your Sources
After you've identified the people most likely fund you, it's time to start making your pitch. One thing you should keep in mind here is that while you're trying to work in the music business, which can be a bit more laid back and casual than a traditional industry, the people whose money you want will also want to see some business sense. Be professional and give the impression that you are capable of pulling off your proposed venture.
Get Ready for the Long Haul
Getting funding for any business can be tough, but the creative industries are particularly difficult and highly competitive. Finding money can take a long time, and you may have to apply for money from several sources to fund one music project. When you're planning your project, make sure to build in plenty of time to tap into the right funding sources. And don't be wary of reapplying for grants or programs you've been rejected for previously; you can learn from your failures. The second or third time is often the charm.
Look for the Right Funding Source
When you want to get your project off the ground, it can be tempting to take an "I'll worry about that later" attitude towards loans and debts you are racking up. If you spend unwisely at the beginning, you won't have anything left to make sure your project gets the push it needs over the long term. High-interest loans and credit cards might seem like a fast and easy way to get things rolling, but they should be your last resort. If you have to take on some debt, take the time to make sure it will be manageable enough to let you pay it off and keep your project going.
Get Help When You Need It
Even where there are no nice arts councils or arts grant sources, there usually are groups to help small businesses get their stuff together. If you need help writing a business plan or coming up with a budget, do a quick internet search for small business assistance groups in your area. You may be able to get free (or very cheap) assistance in putting together a professional proposal that will help you get the cash you need.
Do Your Homework
Make sure you thoroughly understand your market and what you are getting into. Just because you're a music fan and read a lot of music magazines doesn't mean you really know how the business side of music works. If you don't have any specific experience in the part of the music industry you want to get into, investigate before you take the plunge. Seek out other people who are doing what you want to do and get their input so you have a clearer picture of what's required and who your customers will be.