Getting your music grant and festival submission approved


Nathalie Sidaros teaching audio postproduction at Musitechnic

If you are a musical artist and serious about advancing your career in the music industry, then at some point you will need to present a submission/application to play a festival or get money from a government or private agency. In either case, you will have to get your music and info to the people who will be deciding if you are eligible. 

These days, it is most often done by including internet links directly to your web and distribution sites (i.e. Bandcamp, Soundcloud or Spotify) in your application letter or EPK. Do not attach your music files to the email (unless indicated) as the large data load will probably be automatically filtered out by the mailbox algorithm. Some organizations (FACTOR/Musicaction) will request you send digital files so they can upload them to their evaluation sites.

Although CDs are still a viable media for the merch table and college and community radio, sending out CDs is now something of the past so don’t bother sending hard copies to a funding organization or festival. Some organizations have their selection juries operate online so mailing your music around the country to the jurors is not an option. 

Make sure you do your research. Look at the festival’s or grant’s website and see what type of music they typically showcase. If your music doesn’t fit their usual genre, it’s probably not worth submitting. Also, when you’re ready to submit, make sure you follow all the guidelines. This may seem like a no- brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t bother to read the directions and then wonder why their submission was rejected. Here are a few suggestions and tips to help you avoid alienating the listening juries and jurors. Remember… you rarely get a second chance.


Avoid long intros

Sounds obvious, but that dramatic 45 second build-up will put you out of the game fast. Most listening juries will listen to only the first minute. If there is a slight interest, perhaps the jury or juror might skip ahead but

the spell is already broken and you’re out of the pool before you’ve even had a chance to swim. If it is a live recording, make sure the song starts right away.

Don’t include cover songs

Maybe you think it’s a good idea to show how talented you can be by performing a complicated piece of music or even a pop hit that you remixed to your own style. Certainly, your partner and 16 Facebook followers might

love your speed metal version of “Massive” but trust me… no jury will. If your original song even smells like another tune you probably won’t have the chance of getting the jury’s attention.

Don’t just put one song

I mean… what? That’s all you have? How are you going to play a 30 minute set? This can be seen as pretentious and will most likely play against you. Either as singer/songwriters,musicians, beatmakers, or any other artist producing music, it is important to show that you are productive …

Stay focused stylistically

Don’t put up a bunch of tunes with several different styles just to show what an amazingly versatile musician you are. Nobody really cares. Remember that they’ve just listened to 50 bands and are probably already saturated. What you truly want to do to here is to give your band an identity. That’s what is going to stick.

Put your artist bio on all of your sites

The listening jury will probably not go looking for info on your band or personal projects. If you make jurors search around too much it becomes work… and no one really likes being made to work.


Easy on the slow droning stuff

Unless that is what you do – Getting to listen to a lot of music is a wonderful thing. Quite an honor actually. It’s just that… try to send music that has something interesting going on. If not, you run the risk of jury members drifting off… as they think about what they’re going to make for supper… wonder if there’s anything good on Netflix… maybe they’ll just go to bed early or have a short nap.


With all this in mind, it’s also a good idea to get feedback before you send your proposal. Ask friends, fellow musicians, or even music industry professionals for feedback on your grant or festival submission. But most of all, be persistent. If you don’t get accepted the first time, don’t give up. Keep trying and eventually you’ll succeed. By following these tips, you’ll improve your chances of getting your music grant or festival submission accepted. So don’t give up, and keep working towards your goals.

Here are a few websites you can visit:

Iain Booth - Professeur Musitechnic

Iain Booth is a music/sound biz multi-tasker: A teacher at Musitechnic, Owner/operator of Studio Hot Biscuit and A&R at Cadbury Records. He plays guitar with his band  Stroboscopica , attends the listening jury for Pop Montreal and is a juror for the FACTOR  Juried Sound Recording  and Artist Development grants

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