Because of financial concerns, some musical projects never progress past the “light bulb” stage. So, unsurprisingly, one of the most common questions SOCAN members ask is, “How do I get funding?” Although we can’t cover everything in one article, here are some representative samples of available grants at the international. national, provincial and municipal levels.

Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (CALQ) – Research and Creation Program

Still in the very early stages of your musical project? Start by applying for CALQ’s Research and Creation program. Admissible projects include composing songs and musicals, creating musical arrangements, doing exploratory research in stage direction, interpretation, scenography and sound design, as well as recording demos for non-commercial purposes.

You’ll be entitled to living expenses of up to $1,700 per month, as well as a budget for research and experimentation expenses, for the fees of participating and collaborating artists, etc., up to a maximum total of $25,000.

First, read the Eligibility section and then create your account on Mon Dossier CALQ to fill out the application form. You’ll find all the details regarding the general terms and conditions, rules, project types and fees. You must submit the application at least four weeks before the project starts.

If you have less than five years of professional artistic experience, you can also apply for the Research, Creation, and Exploration program for emerging artists. The maximum budget is $15,000.


Whether the funding is used to produce or market an album, stage show, or showcase in Canada or abroad, Musicaction can financially support your project, as long as it’s in French (with an exception for world music).

Album Production

Self-producing artists can apply for a grant from Musicaction to produce their album. The application is evaluated based on

  • artistic value (you’re required to submit three demos – why not send in the ones you produced thanks to the CALQ’s Research and Creation program?);
  • the professional environment of your project (who will be the producer?, Do you have a manager and booker?, etc.); and
  • the commercialization plan (will you hire a press agent or radio tracker?, etc.).

Musicaction’s funding can’t be more than 50% of the admissible expenses, up to a maximum of $25,000, for applications evaluated by a jury.

If you prefer a shorter format than that of an album, you can also submit for the Production et promotion de titres (song production and promotion) program. Musicaction’s maximum funding for a four-song EP can’t be more than 50% of the overall cost, up to a maximum of $12,000 (or $3,000 per song). Your application must include a promotion budget, and here again, funding can’t exceed 50% of admissible expenses, up to a maximum of $10,000.

If your application is accepted in one of these programs, the writers and composers of the songs on your EP or album will each get $900 per song ($450 for the lyrics and $450 for the music), up to a maximum of $4,000.

Finally, for emerging artists who don’t yet have an official recording, there’s the Soutien à l’émergence – Volet 1 : Aide à la production (Support to Emerging Artists – Part 1: Production Assistance), which can help you to produce two to four digital songs. Musicaction’s funding is capped at $5,000, but it can represent 75% of all admissible expenses. The jury evaluation only considers the artistic quality, and your evolution over the last few years.

The next application deadline for all three programs is September 3, 2018.

National Commercialization

If your album already has the required funds for production, whether self-financed or from other sources, Musicaction can help fund its promotion (media relations, radio tracking, launch party, video production, ad buying, showcases, openings, concerts). You’ll be evaluated based on your professional environment, the quality of your commercialization plan, and your project’s return on investment.

Musicaction can fund up to a maximum of $50,000, as long as it’s not more than 50% of the admissible expenses. Other limits have been implemented with regards to certain expenses, so pay attention when you read the program.

The next application deadline for this program is also September 3, 2018.

International Commercialization

The commercialization of one’s music abroad can be quite an expensive endeavour, whether or not you already have partners in those territories. You can apply to Musicaction for financial help to explore a target market, or develop your career in that market. Admissible expenses include the fees of artists, musicians, backing vocalists and technicians, travel (car, train, plane, etc.), and lodging expenses, as well as per diems (daily living expenses).

The total amount can vary according to the nature of your activities, but Musicaction’s funding will always cap at 50%, except if your performance is part of an official showcase (in which case it’s capped at 75%).

Applications can be submitted anytime, but no later than one month prior to the planned activities.

Québec City: Première Ovation

Residents of Québec City can apply for this program, administered by l’Ampli ,whose goal is, among others, to promote the emergence and career development of new talents.

You can apply to its Formation/Perfectionnement (Training/Improvement) program and submit a request for pairing with another artist in order to acquire certain specific skills to be added to your artistic approach. The fee of that professional, as well as their travel, accommodations, and subsistence expenses, and the fees required to complete the project, are admissible expenses in your budget. Première Ovation will fund up to a maximum of 75%—and $5,000—of the admissible expenses.

As for its Outils de développement de carrière (Career Development Tools) program, Première Ovation offers support for the strategic stages of your career development, whether you’re launching an album, creating a sound or video production, or making digital communications tools. You can apply up to three times a year, each time allowing you a maximum of $1,000 per item, or $2,000 for a multi-item strategy, up to a maximum of 75% of the admissible expenses.

You have to submit the application at least two months before the project begins, if its budget is $2,000 or less. For more substantial applications, you have to follow these deadlines:

  • April 1st for projects that begin on or after June 1st;
  • June 30th for projects that begin on or after September 1st
  • December 1st for projects that begin on or after February 1st

Programs destined to minority Francophones

Aside from Musicaction, which allocates funding to minority Francophone communities, certain provinces have also created sought-after programs for Francophone artists.

Here’s are a few of them:

First and foremost, everything starts with the music. Indie hip-hop collective Grand Analog’s songs are uptempo, musical, with positive messages, no misogynist lyrics, and no samples. What music supervisors would call “synch-friendly.” The first time I saw them play live, I was hooked. And that’s saying something, because it was 10:30 in the morning, in a room with zero atmosphere! I took a copy of their debut album home, and it confirmed that I wanted to work with them. Signing Odario Williams, Alister Johnson and Warren Bray, the main songwriters in Grand Analog, to co-publishing deals was the one of the best music business decisions I’ve ever made. We recouped our artist advances within six months.

The second thing that’s contributed to Grand Analog’s success is that we built a very strong team around them. I’ve been working with Steve Scharf of New York-based Steven Scharf Entertainment for 15 years. I handle Canada and Steve handles the U.S. For the world outside of Canada, I have set up sub-publishing or administration deals with music publishers in key territories, who pitch Grand Analog’s music for synchs.

Some Synch Standouts
Lowriders (feature film starring Eva Longoria)
NCIS Los Angeles (CBS)
Ten Days in the Valley (ABC)Criminal Minds (CBS)
Sons of Tucson (Fox)
90210 (CW)
Kim’s Convenience (CBC)
2010 Winter Olympics (CBC)
North American ad campaign for Wendy’s

Having said that, we got off to a bit of a rough start with Steve. He landed a Grand Analog song in the Entourage television series for a $10,000 USD fee. However, it turned out that there was a sample in this particular track from their first album (which was recorded before we started working with them!). It was from an old reggae song, and by the time, we figured out who owned the master recording, and who published the original song, to clear the sample, it was too late. We lost the opportunity.  We moved on from there and, between us, we have landed Grand Analog songs in more than 65 films, television shows, and commercials.

The third contributor to Grand Analog’s success is relationships. I have good relationships with the various Canadian music supervisors that I work with, and the same applies to Steve in the U.S. For a number of years, Steve was also the Senior Vice-President of Creative for Carlin America, one of the largest independent American music publishers (until it was sold recently). It helped Steve gain access to music supervisors, film and television producers, and advertising people. It was a relationship of Steve’s that got Grand Analog the opportunity to showcase at a special event in New York for 150 advertising executives. Grand Analog blew the roof off the place, and, six years later, one of the advertising people that was in the room ended up using a Grand Analog song in a North American advertising campaign for Wendy’s.

An important but overlooked factor in Grand Analog’s success is the fact that we are “one-stop shopping.” There are two rights that have to be cleared every time a song is featured in a film, television show or commercial: the synch rights (who owns the song), and the master rights (who owns the recording of the song). In Grand Analog’s case, we co-publish the songs with the three songwriters’ publishing companies, and administer the publishing on behalf of any additional songwriters. The recordings are either owned by Grand Analog Music or our company, the Shadow Cabinet Music Group. So, between the artists and ourselves, we control all of the rights, and can clear them all easily and efficiently. In other words, it’s one-stop shopping, and never takes more than one phone call.

Of course, we also ensure that all of the metadata of any synched song is correct – which is crucial in order to make certain that any money generated by synchs gets to where it’s supposed to go!

Grand Analog have a current EP, Survival, featuring guest artists Posdnuos of De La Soul, Shad, A Tribe Called Red producer 2oolman, and Clairmont The Second. “Donna Summer”, the first single from their next EP, Peace Tapes, will be out in June 2018.

Because of financial concerns, some musical projects never progress past the “light bulb” stage. So, unsurprisingly, one of the most common questions SOCAN members ask is, “How do I get funding?”

Although we can’t cover everything in one article, here are some representative samples of available grants at the international, national, provincial, and municipal levels.

The SOCAN Foundation – Travel Assistance Grant

Available to composers, songwriters, and music publishers in any genre, this grant offsets travel-related costs for activities that “build or define” your career domestically and internationally. Individual artists, charity or non-charity organizations, and music publishers who represent at least four SOCAN members are eligible for funding for, among other activities, performances, residencies, award presentations, and collaborations. Priority is given to artists who demonstrate that the travel in question is important to their career.

Register at the SOCAN Foundation’s online portal and fill out the application. Be sure to have a letter of confirmation or invitation to the event for which you’re requesting funding, and apply well in advance – it takes up to 10 weeks for results.

Successful applicants can receive one grant per calendar year. Maximum funding amounts are:
$400 (for travel from 201 to 1,000 kilometres);
$600 (1,001 to 2,000 km);
$800 (2,001-5,000 km); and
$1000 (5,000-plus km).

There are no specific current deadline dates, and applications are reviewed quarterly.

FACTOR – Artist Development Grant

Prior to applying, read all of the relevant guidelines to ensure that you’re eligible. Applicants need to be in good standing with FACTOR, and can receive this grant once per fiscal year, and twice in total.

Tips and Recommendations

  • Before you do anything, read everything available about the program, ensure that you’re eligible, and reach out to the organization personally.
  • Give yourself plenty of time, provide accurate information, and ensure that any partners you’ve brought on board are confirmed.
  • Adhere to every requirement religiously: If they want a description in five words, write it in five words. Competition is fierce, and trying to be the exception to any rule, or deviating from what’s required, can take you out of the running.
  • Finally, if at first you don’t succeed, try again. Even solid applications get turned down. If yours is, ask for feedback.

To be eligible you must qualify as a “General Artist,” “Artist 2,” or “Professional Songwriter.” “General” is a default rating for new artists – this is the category into which most applicants fall. “Artist 2” is determined by various criteria, including album sales and streaming numbers. A “Professional Songwriter” is defined as a member of a performing rights organization, like SOCAN, who primarily writes for other artists.

The grant subsidizes up to 75% (up to a $2,000 maximum) of eligible costs for one year of artist development, which includes, touring, recording/video production, marketing/promotion, and other activities.

First-time applicants must create an Artist and Applicant Profile on the FACTOR website before applying. A “General Artist” only needs to fill out the “Mandatory Information” portion of the “Additional Information” section. Previous applicants use their existing profiles, adding any updates necessary.

With the application, you’ll submit an “Assessment Track” (a recent, unreleased demo in .mp3 format, meeting FACTOR’s MAPL Can-Con requirements), lyrics (if applicable), a current bio, and an Artist Development Plan detailing how you plan to use the funding. Additional resources – photos, tour schedules, recommendations, press, etc. – are also welcome, and may bolster your application.

Current deadlines are before midnight, PST, on May 31, 2018; Sept. 27, 2018; and Jan. 31, 2019.

Canada Council for the Arts – Explore & Create: Concept to Realization

As the name implies, this program supports projects by artists, artistic groups, or arts organizations, from beginning to completion. It covers direct costs – including research, development, creation, production and presentation – for a single project (one annual payment) or composite (annual payments over 1-3 years). Composite grants are only available to applicants who’ve received two or more Canada Council grants in the past five years.

If you’re a new applicant, speak to a Canada Council Program Officer. Then register by creating an account and applicant profile at least 30 days before applying. If eligible, you’ll be notified via e-mail within 15 business days. Be ready to provide information about the project, who’s involved, timeline, promotion/execution details, and budget. Additionally, you’ll need to upload a sample of the work in progress, or previous work, and documents confirming any other partners involved, and what support they’re offering.

Total funding available is $100,000 annually (for single projects) or $300,000 annually (for composite projects). Higher amounts may be considered, but many annual payouts hover around $60,000. Applicants may apply twice a year for single grants, but those projects can’t overlap with others funded by the program.

Applications for single projects may be submitted at any time. The annual deadlines for composite projects are April 6 and Sept. 12.

Ontario Arts Council – Music Recording Projects

This grant offers funding for Ontario-based artists or organizations, and supports composers, songwriters, and beat producers recording in two categories: Demo/EP (25 minutes maximum) or full-length album. EPs/Albums must be intended for public release. Demos may or may not be. Before applying, you should be almost, or actually, ready to record.

Successful applicants must have a permanent physical address in Ontario, and may be professional musicians, composers or collectives/organizations. Funding maximums are $5,000 (for a demo/EP), or $12,000 (for an album), and cover anything recording-related, from studio expenses, to manufacturing, to promotion and marketing. See the OAC site for a complete list of eligible expenses.

Read the OAC’s Guides to Project Programs and Assessment, and contact their Program Officer or Administrator directly – e-mail prompts the swiftest response. Then create a profile on OAC’s online application system, Nova. Again, you’ll need to answer a series of questions, provide basic project information, documents confirming other participants (producer/key players, for example), a budget, résumé, bio, and audio or video samples (five minutes maximum).

The 2018 deadlines are 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time May 16 and Nov. 15. Applications are available starting two months before deadlines.

Toronto Arts Council – Music Creation and Audio Recording

To be eligible for this grant, you may be a Canadian Citizen, Permanent Resident (or current applicant), or approved refugee claimant, but must be a practicing, professional music maker, currently (and for the past year) residing in Toronto, who has completed training, whether formal or informal.

The grant subsidizes writing/production of original material in any genre, and consists of three categories: Creation (maximum $5000), Recording – Demo/EP (maximum $4000), Recording – Full-Length (maximum $10,000). Categories vary in terms of eligible costs and activities. Updated guidelines will be available in June of 2018.

First-timers should contact the TAC’s Music Officer prior to applying, to ensure eligibility. Applications are submitted through TAC Grants Online, where you’ll register as an individual or organization.

The 2018 deadline is Sept. 17 at 11:59 p.m.