UK: Help Musicians Program

UK: Help Musicians Program


Many musicians may be fearful of the implications Covid-19 could have on their own health and their performance and teaching commitments, which in turn might have an impact on a range of issues, including finances and mental health.

To help you gather useful information and find sources of support, you will find information here about:

1) Where to check for the latest advice on Coronavirus

2) How Help Musicians may be able to support you

3) Signposting to other organisations who may be able to offer support

We will continue to monitor the situation and update this information when needed.


1) Where to check for the latest advice on Coronavirus

Government updates are available here, while NHS advice is available here.

The website is regularly updated with information for musicians in response to the outbreak. The site has information on the latest government advice, where musicians can access financial, legal and health support, grants for creative activity and signposting to essential services.

Please check the site here for regular updates.


2) How Help Musicians may be able to support you

Financial Hardship Funding Phase 2 – supporting those ineligible for government emergency safety nets or unable to survive on what they receive:

We understand that the impact of Coronavirus on musicians’ lives and careers is unprecedented, and our normal person-centred approach of Health & Welfare support needs to be boosted in this exceptional period to give as many musicians as possible immediate financial relief.

Given the magnitude of the situation, only the government can fully provide what musicians require to survive the months that lie ahead, and we are supporting the music industry campaign for meaningful help to be provided.

The vast majority of musicians are self-employed, and a recent survey carried out by the charity showed that 25% of these believed they would be ineligible for the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme. Despite strong and sustained pressure from across the music industry, the government has not changed the terms of the scheme. In response therefore Help Musicians is launching a second phase of funding to provide financial support for those musicians who are left with nothing but Universal Credit, or who are struggling to survive on what little other support they receive.

For those who are eligible, to the extent that funds allow, the charity will offer grant payments for the period 1 June to 31 October, to top up Universal Credit payments where relevant. Where an applicant does not qualify for Universal Credit but is still experiencing significant financial hardship, an assessment will be made based on individual circumstances.

The fund will open with a total of £2.55m, made up of £2m from the charity’s reserves plus generous donations of £500k from music licensing company PPL and £50k from the Lightbody Foundation.

How to apply

The application process for this new fund will be via an online form and will begin on Friday 5 June 2020. Follow the charity on TwitterFacebookInstagram or LinkedIn for further updates.

To enable us to assess eligibility in the most efficient manner, applicants will choose one of three application routes depending on their individual circumstances:

  • Route 1: I am accepted or applying for Universal Credit
  • Route 2: I am not eligible for Universal Credit but am experiencing significant financial hardship
  • Route 3: I have complex needs that go beyond financial hardship and would like to speak with a caseworker

We do not have the capacity to offer all musicians all the financial support they require. We strongly urge you to apply for Universal Credit if this is a viable option for you – not only will it provide vital funds but it will speed up our assessment of your circumstances.

Who is the fund for?

We encourage musicians only to apply to us if they are suffering significant financial hardship, to enable us to focus our resources on those most desperately in need.

In order to be eligible to apply you must satisfy our general criteria for support:

  • You are a professional working musician (by which we mean performer, composer/creator or directly involved in the production of music, or in work for which the main qualification is a high level of musical training)
  • You are self employed or currently unemployed
  • You are in need of financial help
  • You satisfy our residency requirements
  • You are not currently in full-time Further or Higher Education
  • Full guidelines and eligibility rules will be issued next week. In particular please also be aware that:
  • Grants will be offered to the extent we have funds available and will be paid in equal instalments over the period 1 June – 31 October. We will adjust the amount paid if your financial circumstances change during this period.
  • Grants offered to those on Universal Credit will be calculated in relation to the size of their Universal Credit assessment of need. Grants offered to those not on Universal Credit will be calculated with reference to individual circumstances.
  • If you have applied for Universal Credit but have not yet received your assessment, you will be able to begin your Route 1 application but will not be able to submit until you have your Universal Credit assessment. If you apply on Route 2 and subsequently move to Universal Credit, we may need to cancel your remaining grant payments and ask you to apply again through Route 1.
  • Applications will be assessed based on priority and need, not on a first-come-first-served basis.
  • Those who received a £500 grant from Help Musicians in Phase 1 of our Financial Hardship Funding ARE eligible to apply for Phase 2, but the amount already received will be taken into account alongside grants from other organisations (e.g. PRS, Arts Council England, the MU) in order to direct our limited resources to those who have received least from other sources.
  • If you have already been awarded £2,000 or more in grant funding from other organisations, then please do not apply to us at this time as we will not be able to prioritise your application. However, you are still welcome to contact our casework team if you have complex needs that go beyond financial hardship.
  • Applicants must meet Help Musician standard eligibility criteria including our definition of “professional musician” and with savings under £16,000 (the same threshold as for Universal Credit)

This is an offer of financial support however we are also here to help musicians with advice and support through our team and our Music Minds Matter support line is available anytime day or night for emotional support.

As the Help Musicians team continue to deal with an increased number of enquiries for support and advice please can we ask you not to ring the team in relation to your application to this fund.

If anyone is concerned that an individual has abused this charity’s generosity, we encourage you to let us know at

Health and Welfare Support

The Health and Welfare team offers structured support to professional musicians in times of personal crisis. Our approach is person-centred; building tailored support around an individual’s specific needs. Unfortunately, Help Musicians is unable to replace lost earnings. However, we are able to provide financial support in cases of significant financial hardship as well as signposting for debt/welfare related issues. We also provide financial assistance for health interventions and access to music specialist health assessments for performance related health issues.

Although Help Musicians is structured to support musicians in times of crisis, we cannot offer assistance in response to every situation. Please see below for the matters that we are not able to assist with.

Eligibility Criteria

We can help you if:

  • You are a working professional musician (by which we mean a performer, composer/creator or directly involved in the production of music, or in work for which the main qualification is a high level of musical training)
  • You are retired and your principal career was in music
  •  You work in a related music profession
  • In some circumstances we can help if you are a dependant or partner of a musician

As well as being in one of the four categories above, you will need to:

  • Show us you are in need of financial help
  • Satisfy our residency requirements

Please find more information here.

Contact our Health & Welfare Team – telephone: 0207 239 9101

Matters we cannot support

Our intention is to be able to help all musicians who approach us for help. However, in some cases we are unable to assist as our resources must be allocated to areas in which we can have the greatest impact. The list below, gives an indication of some of the items of expenditure that we are unable to fund:

  • Direct replacement of lost earnings
  • National Insurance or Income, Inheritance or Capital Gains Tax Bills
  • Insurance or extended warranties on white goods
  • Legal advice (except that available through Music Minds Matter)
  • Legal costs (other than court fees for bankruptcy)
  • Payment of membership fees
  • Promotion and advertising
  • Repairs and maintenance to rented properties
  • Repaying debts or loans from family, friends or corporate entities
  • Retrospective payments i.e. reimbursement for payments already made or committed to
  • School fees and instrument lessons (except in cases of retraining following illness or injury)

We are also unable to act as guarantors.

Mental health support

Music Minds Matter – contact telephone 0808 802 8008 (24hrs free support line)

Help Musicians runs a support line called Music Minds Matter (MMM) available any time of day or night for a listening ear; it doesn’t have to be a crisis. We have trained advisors that are here to listen, support and help at any time. Through calling MMM, eligible musicians can access free face-to-face or telephone counselling, or online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

Please note: if you are currently based overseas, but are a UK national, then you are still welcome to call Music Minds Matter if needed. Call fees may vary, but if you are eligible to access telephone counselling then Help Musicians can still fund the necessary telephone calls.

3) Signposting to other organisations who may be able to offer support

The Musicians’ Union have a website page dedicated to information on coronavirus here, and ISM has a page here.

There are many other music organisations which are offering support and guidance so do check other websites, particularly if you have a membership of another organisation.

Please also make use of government advice relating to state support, guidance for the self-employed (e.g in relation to Employment and Support Allowance) and other relevant issues.

For advice on debt management:


contact telephone 0800 138 1111

You can access debt advice and support through StepChange on: 0800 138 1111

Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-4pm


contact telephone 0800 197 6026

If you require advice about business related debts you can call the Business debt line on: 0800 197 6026 Monday to Friday: 9am – 8pm.

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By Bret

UK: Help Musicians Program

time to read: 7 min