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Getting Your Live and Touring Projects Funded

Learn some key things you need to have in place before you apply for funding, what can help make your application stand out and common mistakes that are specific to live music projects.

Last updated: 15 January 2024

After recording and releasing projects, live and touring based projects are the most common type of music funding application. Touring often comes at huge expense; it can be financially risky and difficult for those who haven’t yet developed their fanbase. That’s where funding comes in, it can help make a tour achievable, remove the risk and give you the finances you need to really promote it. Here, we identify some of the key things you need to have in place before you apply, what can help make your application stand out and common mistakes that are specific to live projects. 

Before you apply for funding

What do I need to have confirmed?

Before you apply for funding it’s generally good to map out exactly what you want to happen (down to the venues, artists and merch) and confirm as much of it as possible. It can be hard to do this if you need the funding to ensure it can happen, but giving the funder a clear idea of your plans and what you will do in the grant period will really help your application come to life. Even if you don’t have a venue 100% confirmed - maybe you have a good idea of what venue might work, or you have asked a venue to pencil you in for a specific date - putting this detail into your application will help show that your project will go ahead and be successful. You can reach out to the venue(s) and let them know that you’d like to book a date but it’s contingent on your funding application, most venues will be very understanding of this and might even help with a supporting statement if you need it. 

Identifying your target audience

Identifying your target audience is particularly important when it comes to live projects and funding applications because you need to show why you’re playing in the places you’ve chosen. ‘Because it makes sense as a route’ or ‘because they’re big cities’ are not great reasons. You really have to think about your current fanbase, who is in these cities, what they like and why they will like your music.   It’s even better if you can back your plans up with stats and analytics. For example, showing how your Spotify stats work with the cities you’ve decided to visit e.g. ‘On Spotify, Nottingham is our most listened to city’. Maybe you have a good relationship with a similar band from that city or have support from a promoter that will help you reach new audiences. Your plans might make sense to you, but you really need to explain your choices in your application. By identifying your audiences well you’ll be able to show that your project is likely to succeed and have a lasting impact.

Collaborators and partners

Having some collaborators and partners is a great way to strengthen your application. Maybe the venue is collaborating with you by promoting your show, maybe you have a promoter to work with, maybe it’s other artists. If you want to really help your application stand out you can look at organisations such as educational institutes, membership organisations (eg. the Music Producers Guild and and charities to support your shows and reach new audiences. Things like giving a few tickets to a local college to give to students can really help you diversify your audiences and show the funder you’re trying to support equality and access in music - we’ll go onto why this is important in the next section.

Don’t forget the people you already work with - the managers, labels, agents and publishers. If they’re supporting you by promoting the work it can really help to flag this in your application.

Making your funding application stand out

Will your project be open and available? 

Some applications will ask how you’re making your project easy to access for your target audiences. This means you need to think about the specific ways in which you’ll ensure you’ll reach people - this might mean putting up posters in targeted places, aiming your digital ads at certain people, or hiring a particular PR. You can go further by offering discounts to specific audiences, or partnering with organisations that work with those audiences. There are many ways to reach your targeted audiences and you’ll be doing some of them without thinking - but you need to talk about them in your application. Generally applicants are great at covering how they’ll reach the audience they already have - those that are following them on social media etc - and great at talking about the digital ads they’ll place, but really fail to connect well with new audiences.

Remember that you can make your shows open and inclusive too; these positive actions can help create long term changes. For instance you can talk about making the spaces inclusive, sending the venue signage to ensure that everyone knows they are welcome.

Is your project "green"?

Lots of funders want to know how you’re going to consider the environment in your project plans; this is particularly applicable when it comes to touring. It can be a challenge to do this when you’re looking for the most cost-effective means of travel but there are things that can help. Making sure you're travelling together rather than individually can be a good way of reducing emissions, taking public transport is even better. Thinking about what merch you will take on tour and how that will impact your carbon footprint is also important, you can find a variety of options for t-shirts, records and flyers that have a reduced environmental impact.

It’s not just your travel that is important though, also think about your audience, are you offering reductions for those travelling together or using public transport? Is your venue close to public transport stops in order to make it more likely people will use public transport? If you need more ideas this Sound Country guide can help inspire you.


Accessibility is really important to funders as they want music and creative arts to be available to all, however it doesn’t mean just using accessible venues - though that’s a great start. Using the Attitude is Everything Charter Award list you can see which venues are included - using venues from this list will really help show that you’ve considered accessibility.

There are many things you can do as artists and musicians to help accessibility regardless of what venue you’re using. One of the most useful things you can do is promote what level of access the venues you're using have. For example, including the number of steps, toilet access etc that a venue has so that anyone with access needs is able to plan their night. You can also make yourselves a point of contact for access needs, e.g. ‘If you have access needs please DM us if you feel comfortable and we’ll work to ensure our show is accessible to you’. Making sure there are seats available if needed, ungendered toilet access and quiet spaces for those who need it are all ways of making your show more accessible. Most venues will make changes, or support positive action if asked.

Employing people for your project

Lots of applications now ask how you’ve considered diversity and inclusion when it comes to who you employ and work with. This can be difficult when you already have a clear idea of who you want to work with, however live projects have many opportunities to work with a range of people - from ensuring that you work with venues that have a diversity in their staff to thinking about your tour manager, sound engineer and the artists in your band if you’re hiring session musicians.

Showing that you’re considering these things and looking for opportunities to improve is important. Remember these questions are not about what you already do but how you’ll do even better in future.

Including budgets and timeline in your application

Budgets and timelines are one of the biggest challenges of an application, but when done well they can really help funders understand your application. Here’s a few tips to help.

Work out your outgoings realistically

This includes ensuring that you’re paying musicians (all funders will want to see creatives being paid). Start by looking at each show day and how much that will cost; you should also know the number of rest days which will likely cost a different amount. Don’t forget to budget for marketing and promotion too - even if it’s paying for your own time to do it. Although it can be tempting to skip these elements so you apply for less, it’s important to show funders that these shows will be a success, marketing, promotion and advertising are all part of this.

Estimate your income

Most live shows have income, whether it’s through a guarantee (set payment) or ticket sales, you should always show some income if people are paying to get in. It can be tricky to know how many tickets you’ll sell but you should make a calculated guess based on the size of the venue and how many fans you roughly have locally. Most applications will give you space to explain how you’ve estimated you income so you can be clear about this, e.g. ‘We estimate we will sell 70% of the tickets based on previous sales of xxx’.

Remember that funding is there to help your tour break even once all costs are considered. Overall your predictions should show that all your costs equal the income from tickets plus the funding amount.  

How detailed should my timeline be?

Your timelines should have a good amount of detail in, including all live show dates and any other tour activity, ideally you would also include rehearsals and marketing activity, especially if you’re applying for funding to help cover those costs. If you have partners try and include moments where you’ll be working or collaborating with them too, especially if you’ll be doing outreach/offering tickets to specific groups.

Common mistakes in making a funding application

Making mistakes isn’t the end of the world, most funders will still be able to understand your plans and support you if your application is strong. However, there are some key mistakes that lots of people make. Here’s some guidance to help you avoid these and help your application stand out.

Thinking about your aims and the future

It’s great to go out on tour and have the opportunity to play live, but most funders will want to know why you want to do this, and why it makes sense now. Building fanbases, promoting a release, building relationships with bands and professionals are all good reasons. Really think about what you hope will come from it and what will happen in the future because of these tour dates. Having longer-term goals that fit into your overall plans for your music project will show that this project will have a long term positive impact and that you will follow up on the achievements to continuously grow and improve.

Partners and organisations

All projects are strengthened by having good partners working with you. If you don’t have any, can you think of any way to connect with publications, learning institutions or industry groups to assist in promoting your shows or give away tickets? Really think about what groups will help you reach your target audience.  Promoters and other bands are also great partners as they add solid expertise to show that the events will be successful. If you have promoters in some cities but not in others that’s totally fine.

Not making the most of opportunities

There are lots of things you can do to ensure you’re making the most of your shows and futureproofing your career - from asking for people emails for your mailing list, to having limited merch on sale, or even recording one of the shows or rehearsals to create a video that you can use to send to festivals, agents and promoters. Applications that think creatively and long-term about careers stand out as being more interesting and considered than others. Think about what might help you in the future.

Live projects are wide ranging, from a single show to international tours, so it’s really important to work out what makes sense for you. There’s no rules about what your live career should look like, so take time to plan something that will make the difference that you need. Then make sure you apply for funding in plenty of time to make sure it happens.

Funders that support live music projects

About the author

This guidance was written by Jess Partridge who is a freelance consultant and funding expert.

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