Owen Kelly works with funding applications and tax incentive submissions for music, film, TV, and digital media, and has handled music grant and tax credit applications in programs in Ontario for artists like Crash Karma, Jully Black, Serena Ryder and more, as well has funding and tax credit applications while at production companies and tax credit firm Global Incentives for several films and series including Blue Mountain State, Fugget About It, Silver Linings Playbook, The Host, Safe Haven and Riddick.
Indie Connectors has been providing you with valuable information industry insiders, and for our last article of 2015, we are concentrating on MONEY!!! Owen Brady from Border Film & Sound shares his insights on funding!
Let the guidelines guide your way...
Determining just how “indie” you are…
Another indicator that a fund could be suited best for artists/bands at an intermediate or advanced stage in their career is if the application asks the details of what management or label is representing the artist/band, as well as allows managers and labels who legally represent the artist and/or the planned project to apply for funds in addition to the artist themselves independently. Although artists with less of a corporate team and infrastructure are free to apply, it is important to note that they will be competing with artists/bands that could have more of the business and marketing resources that the fund is looking for. Again, there are particular funds, as well as particular programs within funds, that either do not ask management and label details about the artist/band or only allow the artist, not a manager or label, to apply - the Single/Demo program by FACTOR being one such program.
Meeting the mission…
Reading the objectives, goals and mission statements of the funds is also a good way to decipher if a particular fund may be more suited for the truly independent artist/band at an early and developmental stage in their career, or an artist/band at an intermediate to advanced stage in their career. Funds that state clearly, and right off the hop, in their objectives and missions that they were created to develop or strengthen the Canadian music industry at large are those that tend to give more to intermediate and advanced career stage artists/bands, particularly those with management or label support or artists/bands with a significant level of revenues or units sold from prior releases or live performing.
Similarly, funds that ask the artist/band how many jobs the planned project can expect to create (of which the OMDC’s Ontario Music Fund is the chief one) are also looking dominantly to the more intermediate, advanced and established artists/bands to help them achieve their industry objectives. Conversely, the funds and programs within funds that state clearly that they are designed for the support of independent artists and the development of their craft and careers are those that are much more giving to artists/bands with less business and marketing resources and infrastructure. As a result these funds and programs will likely have fewer established artists/bands applying and making a successful application process less competitive for developing artists/bands.
Paying first, funding after...
The one aspect of business infrastructure, however, that these tax incentive programs do tend to require is for the artist/band to be incorporated as a business in the province or state that the program operates in for a minimum of a year to two years, depending on the program. A much easier feat to achieve than a significant revenue threshold, minimum amount of album or single units sold, or a support base of established label, management and marketing resources. Being a source of funds that is only available after all of the expenses of an album or EP have been paid, tax credits are for the artists/bands that have enough finances of their own already to finance recording costs (whether from their own personal investment, private investment, label support, or from approved grants).
As tempting and time saving it may be to apply to all funds available under the sun at one go, and having one solid but general artist/band business plan for them all, it will increase chances of receiving grant funding much more catering and refining one application to the right fund and/or program based on program guidelines and artist/band assets and achievements.