New Music Creator Development Fund – Overview and Guidelines

*Music Creator refers to any individual composer or artist who creates original music. Some music creators may also be performers; some may only create music for other people to perform. All of these individuals are eligible to lead applications for this fund.


The New Music Creator Development Fund offers grants to individual music creators who need support to get to the next stage of their creative practice in the context of the challenging circumstances created by COVID-19. The program will support costs which relate to collaboration with other artists and practitioners following the social isolation we’ve all experienced over the past 2 years. Individual performers may also apply as long as their collaborator is a music creator. Our aim is to enable music creators to take the lead in the development of new and existing ideas and projects. We are also striving to stimulate creativity and collaboration between music creators and other artists from any discipline or background and to build community in response to the restrictions we have all been facing.



We aim to support and represent a broad range of individuals across the country and musical spectrum. We expect the applicant pool to be very diverse in terms of genres, styles, and aesthetic and we will be particularly interested in applicants that display originality of sound, music, and artistry, shaping the future of music creation and sound.


We will also prioritize music creators who have at least some evidence of prior experience making music professionally and are engaged in music on a professional level. We are particularly interested in projects that do not already have funding support and projects which are most likely to have a significant and positive impact on the next steps in the applicant’s creative practice and potential.


Projects should be in progress or be developed in roughly the next year. We will be giving priority to artists who demonstrate the greatest need for our support. Our commitment to an equitable ecosystem for new music means that we are particularly interested in receiving proposals from BIPOC and other under-represented artists.


What we mean by collaboration:

Artistic collaboration is not easy in the context of the ongoing global pandemic. And yet, these periods of restrictions and isolation have been stimulating inspiring levels of creativity and innovation and new ways of working. This fund encourages new collaborations which tap in to these opportunities. We are leaving the nature of the collaborative practice to applicants to define – it may revolve around existing work that you want to bring to life, record, or transform for a new medium. It could focus on the creation of new work, the R&D time you need with your artistic collaborators and/or a live or virtual performance of some kind. Most important to our fund is that the work you propose will have a positive impact on the next steps in yours and the other participants’ creative practice.


Application simplicity:

The application form will be simple and will allow creators to express their needs directly rather than respond to limiting criteria. Applicants will be able to seek support for a variety of activities which may form part of their collaboration. Applications must be led by music creators and can involve creative collaborators from any discipline. This is an opportunity for music creators to initiate new connections and have control over the next stages of their creative practice.


What the program supports:

We are open to hearing from you about the support you need to initiate or sustain collaboration with other artists and to help you keep creating in these uncertain times. We will prioritize proposals with the most potential to have a significant impact on the creative practice and potential. We are most interested in hearing how this project will help you move forward in the next stage of your career, the impact it will have, and why funding for the project is needed at this particular time, the urgency for support.

We envision that costs incurred through your collaborative work may include:

  • Support for the time you need to create new material and initiate new collaborations with your proposed artist(s)
  • Creation fees for a work in progress that does not have additional support
  • Performer or other collaborator fees
  • Equipment
  • Recording costs
  • PR/marketing
  • Technical assistance/skills building
  • Support for digital presentation
  • Workshopping
  • Joint R&D into new project ideas
  • Other costs you consider to be essential e.g. childcare for yourself or a collaborating artist


What the program does not support:

  • Benefits or fundraisers
  • Competition Fees
  • Projects that are already 100% funded
  • Projects that have already been completed



We plan to make 70 to 100 awards of up to $5,000 each (with the overall average grant being $3,000) with funding from New Music USA’s endowment and annual funders and by raising additional funds from the community during New Music USA’s 10th Anniversary year. The number of grants we give will depend on how our fundraising campaign progresses.


Funding Transparency

Both the New Music Creator Development Fund and the New Music Organizational Development Fund are made possible by the generous funders who either donated to our endowment or generously donate to New Music USA annually. Some of these funders had or have specific requests regarding the kinds of work we support because of their geographical location or specific area of interest. We are providing the facts and figures below so that all applicants have a better insight into these restrictions, which influence the applications our advisors select. Please note that applications may cover a number of the categories listed below; others may not fit with any.

  • Award rates are generally between 5% and 10% of the overall applicant pool (this means we support around 1/10 of the applications we receive each year)
    • Roughly 25% of the applications we fund must include the creation of new work (e.g. commissions and facilitation of brand new pieces of music)
    • Roughly 25% of the applications we award must include creation or programming of live music for dance (creation, performance, choreographer, and dancer fees)
  • Geographical restrictions are as follows:
    • 49% of our grants budget is available without geographical restriction
    • 35% is restricted to New York City based artists/organizations
    • 11% is restricted to New York State based artists/organizations
    • 2% is restricted to New Jersey based artists/organizations
    • 2% is restricted to California Bay Area based artists/organizations
    • 1% is restricted to Pennsylvania based artists/organizations


Equity and Inclusion

New Music USA is committed to inclusivity and equitable treatment in all of our activity and across our nation’s diverse population. We welcome the unique contributions that artists bring in terms of their education, opinions, culture, ethnicity, race, sex, gender identity and expression, nation of origin, age, languages spoken, veteran’s status, color, disability, sexual orientation, and religious beliefs.



  • The lead applicant must be a US-based music creator
  • This is for individuals only; organizations can not apply
  • Each lead applicant may only submit one request
  • Lead applicants may not have been funded in the previous round of the New Music Creator Development Fund (December 2020 deadline, announced in March).
  • The applicant must be pursuing music on a professional level
  • Activities/use of the funds should be in process and/or planned as of April 2022.


Review Process

Applications will be screened first by staff for eligibility and completeness. Applications will then move forward to a peer review process completed by roughly 30 to 40 panelists working from around the country. Panelists will review each application by the criteria listed below providing a score that will then be averaged to create a ranked list. All criteria will be equally weighted during the review process. Award determinations will be made using the ranked list taking into account any funding restrictions as necessary.


Review Criteria:

Applications will be evaluated based on the following criteria. All will be weighted equally throughout the review process.

  • Artistry– projected artistic merit of the collaboration based on the proposal and existing body of work
  • Collaboration – strength of the collaboration proposed
  • Need – how you want to use the money and the urgency of support right now
  • Impact – the difference this project will make to the next steps of yours and other participants’ careers




Deadlines and Timeline: Deadline: December 21, 2021

The deadline will be December 21, 2021 at 11:59 pm (Eastern Time). Decisions will be made in April 2022. Projects may be in progress or recently beginning. They can be process or performance oriented, rather than leading to a definitive final outcome. An outline of your progress and experience will be required by end August 2022.


Application questions/requirements:

The application form can be completed by submitting a video (max 5 mins) or written response. You are not required to submit a video response, but you must please choose one of these approaches as our advisors won’t have time to look at both. In order to be eligible and move forward in the review process you MUST answer the following questions:

  • Collaboration
    • Tell us about the collaborative work you’d like to lead including who you’re proposing to collaborate with and why?
  • Impact
    • How will this will help you move forward to the next stage of your creative practice? What impact will this work have for you?
  • Need
    • How would you use the money you are applying for?
    • Why do you need our support?
    • Why is it important for you to lead this work right now?
  • When will you do this work (please include any relevant dates)?


Other required material:

  • Budget breakdown; how would you propose to use the funds
    • Please outline how you plan to use the funds
      • That can include individual costs for you and/or your collaborator, funds for performers, equipment, recording, or other fees. Please be descriptive.
  •  Work Samples demonstrating artistic quality for music creator/key collaborator(s)
    • 2 to 3 work samples demonstrating recent work by you and your collaborating artists
    • You may provide links to YouTube, Vimeo, or Soundcloud, or upload via mp3


Further questions or information:

  • Please see the FAQs here:
  • Please email; please note that due to the high volume of inquiries please allow 24 to 48 hours for a response.