A musician's boots next to a microphone cable standing in front of an outdoor festival audience

We are committed to using the resources we have as a charity to have the most impact on the lives and careers of those we are here to help.

Whilst each service comes with its own requirements, we have universal eligibility criteria to determine which musicians we can support, and checks designed to ensure that we are only supporting musicians who meet them.

Eligibility criteria 

If you are a working musician, you need to meet the following criteria to apply for support from Help Musicians:

  • You are aged 18 or over
  • You have the legal right to live and work in the UK, and currently live in the UK
  • You don’t have more than £10,000 in savings (exceptions apply, see below)
  • You’ve earned around 40% or more of your income from music over the past two years. Exceptions apply for musicians with a long-term health condition and/​or disability that impacts your ability to earn – please see below
  • You have a UK bank account (if applying for a grant)

Please note that some of our services have their own criteria, including for musicians who are students or retired, as well as our Music Minds Matter and Bullying & Harassment helplines and hearing health service. Details for these will be found on the webpages for these individual services.

Exceptions to personal savings limit 

To be eligible you must not have more than £10,000 in savings, or have a second or other additional property.

However, some exceptions apply to unavoidable financial obligations. These are as follows:

  • Money held aside for a tax bill
  • Purchase of primary home you will live within and in the process of buying
  • Purchase of required medical or care equipment
  • Up to £15,000 of care home fees
  • Up to £10,000 in savings towards music education fees
  • Essential maintenance on property
  • Up to £15,000 in parental leave savings if you are due to stop work for parental leave within the next six months

Some further capital eligibility guidelines apply, including on assets you expect to receive from a Trust Fund or dividends, and any gifts, loans or awards that exceed £3,000. Please get in touch if you require further information.

Household income criteria 

We distribute our services in a way that prioritises musicians in most financial need. This means that if your household income is higher, you are less likely to receive support from us, and if you do, it may be limited. 

Within our health and welfare services we consider your entire household income, essential living expenses and any financial dependents living with you to determine what, if any, support we can provide for you. 

Within our career development services, we consider your individual income in determining the support we can provide, if we can. Our aim is to prioritise supporting those who are least likely to be able to self-fund important career opportunities. 

We always consider an individual musician’s circumstances and our current levels of demand when deciding what support to provide. As a general rule, if you earn above the following household income limits, we are likely to be able to provide only limited, if any, support to you at this time: 

  • Living alone, with a lodger, at home with family or in a house share with unrelated adults: £35,000
  • Living as a couple: £40,000 (for both partners) 
  • Lone parent with one or more dependent children of any age at home: £50,000 
  • Single adult living with adult dependent e.g. family member you care for: £50,000 
  • Couple with one or more dependent children of any age at home: £60,000
  • Couple living with adult dependent e.g. family member you care for: £60,000

FAQs 

Help Musicians is here for musicians, and those working with musicians whose role requires a high level of musical skill.

If you work in one or more of these roles, part or full time or freelance, then you could be eligible for our support: 

Music performance and creation  

  • Performing and session musicians and singers 
  • Producer
  • Composer or arranger or songwriter 
  • Accompanist
  • Band or Choir director or leader or Musical Director 
  • Conductor
  • Live DJs (not radio) 
  • Music teacher
  • Music therapist
  • Orchestrator
  • Repetiteur

Live music  

  • Live sound engineers 

Studio production 

  • Producers and recording engineers 
  • Mixing engineers
  • Mastering engineers 

Instruments and Gear 

  • Instrument and gear technician 
  • Piano tuner 

If you are not sure whether your role is eligible, we suggest getting in touch before starting an application. 

The cost of the support we offer can range significantly — the higher the cost, the more checks we do.

To determine how much information we ask for, our support is separated into four bands. These bands are outlined on the application guidance for each service, found on the relevant web page.

  • To apply for Band 1 or Band 2 you simply need to self-declare your financial circumstances. We don’t request any documents.
  • For Band 3 and Band 4, we will request a reference (see below), as well as your last 3 months of statements for all personal bank and savings accounts.

The structure of modern deals doesn’t typically provide the advances that were more common in the past, meaning that a musician could be signed to a label but still in financial need around their career or living costs.

To ensure we prioritise support for musicians where we have the most impact, the following guidelines apply around industry support:

  • We will provide health and welfare services to any eligible musician, regardless of past or current industry support 
  • We will not provide career development services to musicians who have a deal with a major or a large independent label, or who are aware they are likely within the next six months to receive a substantial advance which would further their career
  • We will provide career development services to eligible musicians who have any form of industry support listed where they don’t have an advance of over £10,000
  • We will provide career development services to eligible musicians who are accessing industry loans such as BeatBread, where this doesn’t take them beyond income or savings thresholds 
  • We will provide career development services to musicians using any pay-for-use distribution services and platforms 

For some support we will check references to confirm that you have worked in music for more than two years.

Your reference must:

  • Be from someone working in music with a professional relationship with you, e.g. manager, band mate, tutor, etc.
  • Not be from a partner or relative
  • Not be not an individual currently supported by Help Musicians

Our eligibility is reviewed annually to make sure it reflects the most current data we have about musicians’ income and careers.

Eligibility for musicians with a disability or long-term health condition 

We are committed to designing our services and support in ways that both ensure they are accessible to musicians with disabilities or long-term health conditions, and proactively address the systematic barriers they face in developing a career in music. 

It’s vital our approach is informed by musicians with a lived experience, and so we are currently working with a disability partner to help us shape it. We will share our approach to supporting disabled musicians to access our career development services by August 2024

In the meantime, we have adjusted eligibility criteria to ensure musicians with a long-term health condition or disability are not excluded from our services. 

If your ability to earn income from music has been affected by a long term physical or mental health condition or disability for 12 months or longer, you just need to show you have earned some money from music in the last two years. 

We currently use the Equality Act 2010 definition which is that you have a physical or mental impairment that has a substantial and long-term negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities and, for the purpose of our support, your ability to earn income from music for 12 months or longer. 

We are inclusive of all disabilities including:

  • physical conditions or impairments
  • long-term mental health conditions (12 months or longer with a substantial impact on daily activities)
  • hearing impairments or conditions
  • visual impairments or conditions
  • neurodivergence

When you make an application for support via our online portal, simply tick the box that states: 

A long term physical or mental health condition or disability has affected my ability to earn income from music for 12 months or longer’ 

You will need to show confirmation of your health condition or disability alongside proof of income from music over the last two years. 

Examples of confirmation of your health condition or disability include a letter from GP or relevant healthcare practitioner or evidence of being in receipt of a health-related benefit (such as Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance, or Attendance Allowance). 

Examples of proof of income from music may include proof of payments from live performances, income from streaming platforms, royalty statements from record label/​publisher/​library music company/​PRS/​PPL, Bandcamp sales, sync licencing income, employment contract or recent tax return. 

Disabled musicians can also apply for Inclusive Selection.

If you have any questions about our support for disabled musicians, or want to ask for support with an application for yourself or a disabled adult you care for please contact support@​helpmusicians.​org.​uk

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