Two members are walking out onto a stage in front of a large outdoor audience

Life as a professional musician can be tough — when things go wrong, worries can quickly mount up. 

Added to this, the insecure pattern of work and financial rewards can leave many unable to save for their retirement, or even predict when that will be. 

These are the areas which Help Musicians may be able to help you with:

  • Support for those with long term illness or disability
  • Support for musicians facing terminal illness
  • Support if you are at imminent risk of homelessness
  • Financial support related to parental leave
  • Support for retired musicians
  • For support with a current medical issue impacting on your ability to work as a musician, please see Physical Health


To be eligible to apply for welfare support from the charity you must:

  • Be aged 18 or over, living in the UK, with the right to live and work in the UK and with a UK bank account
  • Not have more than £10,000 savings

You will also need to be one of the following criteria:

  • A working musician with a track record of making 40% of your income from music over the past two years or longer. Exceptions apply for musicians with a long-term health condition and/​or disability that impacts your ability to earn.
  • A retired musician whose principal career was in music where you earned 40% or more of your income as a musician over at least 5 years during your career

Full eligibility criteria can be found here. We strongly recommend you read these before making an application.

If you do not meet this criteria then you may still be eligible for our Emerging Musicians’ Health Scheme.

We need to ensure our help goes to those who need it most, so we will need to consider your savings and income. 

We are unable to provide financial support to people with savings of more than £10,000 (this includes your partner’s savings if you live with one). Some exceptions to this apply (see here).

When you apply, we ask for details of your income and expenditure to help us decide the level of support we may provide.

Please note: We are unable to provide financial support towards general living costs in circumstances where there has been a downturn in work, to replace lost earnings or to pay for medical treatment or services that have taken place already.

To ensure we are helping as many musicians as possible we may prioritise those that have not received financial support from us in the past at times of high demand. 

You are welcome to apply for support from Help Musicians at any stage when you need support with any of the areas listed above.

For issues of financial welfare, we strongly advise you to explore the benefits that might be available to you from the UK government.

Once you have completed the application process and provided all the required information/​documents to confirm eligibility, it can take up to 15 working days to receive a decision.

If you do not provide enough information or provide all the required evidence to confirm eligibility then your application will be sent back to you to add more information. This can lead to delays in processing your application. 

If you require more urgent support, please get in touch and we’ll review whether we can provide details of other services that may be able to support in the time while we assess your application.

What support can we offer? 

Retirement for musicians can be very different compared to other professions. Some musicians continue to work into their 70s, 80s and beyond, while others take a step back from the industry altogether. Each musician has their own story. 

Our work is targeted at people who cannot afford an adequate standard of living, have unexpected needs or an illness. This often involves financial help (with our resources targeted at those who need it most) in the form of a regular quarterly payment or help with sudden unexpected expenses.

Regular home visits are an important part of what we do. We aim to visit everyone who receives regular financial help once a year to keep in touch and make sure our help is still appropriate.

We recognise the strains that long-term illness and disability can place on musicians’ lives and careers. 

You should contact us if a serious injury, illness or disability means you:

  • Are unable to work in the long term
  • Need help to retrain so you can earn a living in an alternative career

Because every case is different, we will usually work out how best to help by visiting you. We will continue to visit over the course of our relationship so the support we offer is tailored to meet your needs.

We understand the difficulties that being diagnosed with a terminal illness can present to musicians and their families.

Our support aims to ensure that the final stages of a musicians life are as comfortable as possible by alleviating some of the potential financial pressures. 

When a musician dies, we can, on occasion, offer help with funeral and related costs, such as bereavement counselling for the surviving partner.

In such a situation we recommend first getting in touch with Cruse, one of the UK’s leading bereavement charities.

If a musician was receiving regular help from us before their death, we may continue to support their partner through the difficult months that follow, reviewing the support after 3 – 6 months have passed.

We will consider financial support where a working musicians’ income is impacted upon by taking a period of parental leave.

This will be decided on a case-by-case basis and will depend your financial circumstances.

We may be able to provide support towards financial costs to prevent homelessness or secure a new property if you have received an eviction notice.

Before considering financial assistance we may direct you to speak with your local council, who might have legal obligations to help you. We may also ask you to seek free legal advice from Shelter.

James Bradley standing outdoors wearing a shirt and jacket
Help Musicians are like friends, like a safety net
James Bradley | singer-songwriter
Read story