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AAA Music | 2 March 2024

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Early Days in Music – How to Finance a Burgeoning Career

| On 25, Aug 2022

For many, music is a calling. It is more than a budding career; it is an urge, a need to speak one’s truth in a language of choice. Those starting out in music rarely give time to researching the state of the industry itself, and for good reason; we’re often much more interested in the creative process than the business side of growing a career. Writing and performing speaks more to us than growth metrics and industry figures.

The UK Music Industry

But in the modern music landscape, the pressures on young and independent musicians are increasing. No longer can an up-and-coming musician focus solely on the creation of music. New musicians breaking out in their scene have to be their own content factory, promoter and booking agent at the same time – making it crucial that you understand a little more about the industry in which you want to thrive.

The UK music industry is a behemoth, contributing over £1.2 billion to the economy in 2021 alone. The industry is also growing, having seen an incredible near-13% rise from 2020 to 2021. But the industry is also a wide one, encompassing artists, distributors, promoters, tour managers, retail outlets and more. And it’s an industry in trouble.

The Cost of Music

The coronavirus pandemic had a devastating impact on the live music industry, causing many behind-the-scenes workers to lose their livelihoods with little in the way of government support. The industry is still struggling to right itself in the aftermath.

Dwindling opportunities combine with the rising costs of making music. As an independent musician or band, you will be self-funding everything from your instruments and equipment to spaces in which to use them. You’ll lose money on transport to and from shows with small budgets for artists, and you’ll be fronting a lot of your major purchases – including merchandise and records.

Even for artists lucky enough to cultivate an organic following or reach a deal with a larger label, the returns can be miniscule; streaming revenues disproportionately reward service providers and executives over the artists themselves, while the live industry sees venues squeezing merch stands at shows for a cut of their take.

Financing Your Career

This can all seem a little overwhelming to the budding artist, but the reward is still well worth the effort. Crucially, there are also many funding opportunities in place for young musicians to get the financial leg-up they need for their career.

The PRS Foundation is one of the leading funding sources for grassroots music in the UK, with numerous targeted funds that elevate outstanding musicians, creatives and future industry leaders. The Momentum fund exists for the sole purpose of finding and assisting UK bands on the rise. The Arts Council is another winning option for funding opportunities.

As for making the money itself turn a profit, the market is a competitive one but there are routes to success. One of the most lucrative is sync placements, or the selling of music to adverts, film and television.