Do It Differently Q&A with Creative Programme Officer, Joe Danher
Joe Danher
Creative Programme Officer
16th April 2019
Do It Differently Q&A with Creative Programme Officer, Joe Danher

Help Musicians UK’s Creative Programme Officer, Joe Danher, talks through his tips for submitting a top-notch Do It Differently application.

Q: Do you have any advice on how to go about answering the application questions?

JOE: The panel will be looking for specific things in each area of your application, so I’ll go into detail about some of the most important questions on Page 4 and 5 of the online application process.

When writing your biography (Page 4), remember that this fund is tailored towards independent music creators, so we’re looking for evidence of self-sufficiency in your career. Alongside your career highlights and notable achievements, you should elaborate on the ways in which you’ve been self-sufficient (for example self-managing, self-releasing or self-producing) and how this has benefitted your career to date. Has this approach given you more creative control? Has it allowed you to retain ownership of certain rights or revenue stream? If you’ve copied a biography from your website or press release, for example, remember to elaborate on your self-sufficiency also, otherwise only half the question has been answered.

The next question on Page 4 asks about a specific upcoming activity you wish to undertake, so the panel will expect to see as much detail about your proposed project as possible. Use the word count/video length approximations to your advantage and remember to include details of timelines, notable collaborators and their relevance to this activity, plus any interesting context for your project if relevant. You’ve already told us how you’ve been self-sufficient to date in your first question. Will you be similarly self-sufficient in this upcoming project? Let us know how!

The third question on Page 4 asks about how the above activity will benefit your progression and future career and must be answered as specifically as possible. You should avoid generalisations such as “this will take us to the next level”, as this doesn’t provide clear measures of success for the panel’s consideration. Think 6 – 12 months on from the point of your project delivery; what are your goals within this timeframe and how will this project be pivotal in helping you achieve those? How will this project be crucial in helping to sustain your career as an independent music creator?

For example, if the proposed project is largely focused on recording, a self-releasing or self-managing artist may consider the following:

  • will that newly recorded repertoire provide me with a tangible product to sell at live shows? If so, what does that look like in terms of revenue, audience growth, etc?
  • what are the measures of success for the release of my newly recorded repertoire? Will I focus on features in online/print press? Improved streaming figures? Better social media engagement?
  • will this newly recorded repertoire give me a new “tool” to pitch for future touring and festival opportunities?

Each artist’s career path is very different, so these measures of success will be unique to you.

When choosing your two areas of business development expertise on Page 5, firstly, have a think about the gaps in your music industry knowledge which have perhaps proved an obstacle at some point in your career. Maybe your music has great sync potential, but your knowledge of music publishing opportunities is limited? Maybe this is your first self-release and you would like to learn more about digital release strategies?

The holistic offer of the Do It Differently Fund goes beyond a simple grant offer, and the panel will want to fund creators who show an eagerness to acquire this new knowledge to independently further their career. When answering the question about why you have chosen certain areas of expertise, consider the following:

  • how will improved knowledge in your chosen topics better the delivery of the proposed project for which you are applying for funding?
  • how will improved knowledge in your chosen topics help to sustain you as independent music creator in the long term? Consider what opportunities or activities you may apply these new skills to in future.

Q: What are the common mistakes people make when submitting applications for funds like Do It Differently?   

JOE: A very high percentage of applicants in the inaugural round were immediately considered ineligible, either for forgetting to have someone provide a reference in support of their application, or failing to recognise the budget limitations regarding PR, marketing and equipment as detailed in the application guidelines.

Be sure to consult the “how to apply” section of the Do It Differently Fund page on our website and read the application guidelines thoroughly!

Q: What two things should artists do before they submit their application?

JOE: Firstly, have someone proofread your application. If possible, you should also have somebody read over your application who has no experience of the music industry. If an outside party can understand your proposed project and its impacts, you’ve likely provided a clear narrative of your career plans.

Secondly, ensure you’ve met the application guidelines. Double check your budget. Check in with your referee to ensure they will complete their reference by the deadline. And most importantly…check that the links to your music work!

You’re not alone in finding funding applications a bit daunting. If there’s any element of your project or application you’re unsure of, no matter how small, you should contact a member of the Creative Programme team on 020 7239 9119 or creative@helpmusicians.org.uk before submitting. 

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