Musicboard-Berlin > Funding > Label Funding


Next Application Deadline 15.08.2023, 6 p.m.

Erica Faria
T +49 (0)30 221 84 89 72
Consulting hours: Tue & Thu 10–12 a.m., Wed 4–6 p.m.

1 Purpose of Funding

The Label Funding programme funds independent labels in Berlin, providing up-and-coming Berlin pop musicians with professional development opportunities in marketing. The financial support for some components of promotion and marketing helps labels operate with more flexibility, and the addition of the labels’ expertise works to the artists’ benefit.

With the term »pop music« Musicboard refers to all genres of popular music as well as cross-genre or experimental pop music that cannot be clearly assigned to the categories of jazz or classical and new music.

2 Conditions

The Label Funding programme funds exclusively:

  • individual measures by a given label towards planned or partially achieved promotion concepts for one musician or band
  • measures that could not be achieved, or not in the required scope, without the funding
  • measures that are planned for the future and are not already being implemented
  • measures that will be completed within the funding year
  • measures with a scope of no more than 5,000 euros
  • measures for artists living in Berlin

The following are eligible to apply:

  • labels registered, with a retail outlet in or a business establishment in, Berlin. The legal status of the applicant (for example, natural person, society, or company) is not relevant to the funding decision.
  • proprietor- or artist-managed independent labels with a market share of no more than five percent (as per Association of Independent Musicians and Music Companies, short: ›VUT‹)
  • labels with a management capable of ensuring and verifying the proper use of funding
  • labels that follow established structures for production and distribution nationally or internationally, and can provide proof of a label code from the German organisation for the management of neighbouring rights (short: ›GVL‹)
  • labels that have already professionally handled at least two releases

Excluded from the funding programme are:

  • labels that already received funding in the same year for the same artist, or already received label funding of in total 5,000 euros in one year
  • productions of sound recordings for sale or commercial streaming – please note that these can be requested through the artists as Project Scholarships
  • creations of a complete marketing packages for establishing an artist
  • measures which are already being implemented at the time of the funding request
  • measures already funded by the state of Berlin
  • members of the jury or employees of the Senate Department for Culture and Social Cohesion of Berlin or Musicboard Berlin GmbH and their dependents

3 Application

The following information and documents must be supplied, in German or in English, using exclusively the application tool that can be accessed via the button at the end of this page:

  • Completed application form
  • Project description
    with justification for the requested funding and description of the intended project goals
  • Proof of two past releases
    as web links
  • Proof of managerial professionalism
    demonstrating an appropriate management and business structure, for example, through a trade association statement, declarations of collaboration with an outside business, or press materials of successful releases
  • Proof of signing
    demonstrating the contractual relationship between label and artist
  • Official proof of the artist’s or band’s residence in Berlin
  • Artist bio
  • Music samples of the artist or band
    to be uploaded as mp3s
  • Specification of costs
    towards which the funding will be applied

Only fully completed documents can be considered. All applications will be handled confidentially and used exclusively for decision-making and funding purposes. Publication of certain relevant details is granted by the applicant as part of the application process.

4 Selection Procedure

Funding is awarded awarded through Musicboard Berlin GmbH upon recommendation of an independent jury of Berlin-based pop experts and in consultation with the Senate Department for Culture and Social Cohesion. Jury members are usually appointed for a period of three years.

The following jury is appointed to the Label Funding programme in 2024:

  • Beate Dietrich
    Member Services at VUT, project manager MEWEM
  • Eva Rölen
    Agency owner, booking agent, artist and event manager
  • Ji-Hun Kim
    chief editor Das Filter, freelance lecturer, DJ, music producer
  • Thien Nguyen
    label owner, DJ, music and film producer

A short description of the jury members is available here.

5 Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve collected here some frequently asked questions about the application process, the project implementation and the final accounting of projects in the Label Funding programme. This information is intended for general advice, is not legally binding, and does not take the place of an examination of individual circumstances. We will gladly answer further, detailed questions on the funding programme by phone or by email. We also recommend the free services of Kreativ Kultur Berlin, which support creatives in all fields in their search for possible funding, can offer tips for preparing applications and can provide review of applications.

Questions about the Application

For what purpose may I apply for label funding from Musicboard Berlin?
In the Label Funding programme, Musicboard supports labels in realising a larger promotion concept for a Berlin-based artist or band when concrete plans or execution are already underway. When, for example, the release of a single for a Berlin artist is planned for the near future, Musicboard may fund individual promotional or marketing initiatives to further that effort: the creation of a press kit, commissioning of a music video, or production of a release event. What may not be funded is a complete marketing programme comprising for example a press kit, music video, radio promotion and release event. By »measure«, Musicboard understands a label’s concrete, limited effort in an overall marketing and promotion strategy for a particular Berlin artist. Also fundamentally excluded from funding are efforts on behalf of several of the label’s artists (for example, compilations) and costs charged to the label for studio recording, mixing, mastering or creation of sound recordings for sale and commercial streaming. Note that funding for production costs can be requested through the artist as part of a Project Scholarship.
What sum may I request, and how often can my label be funded?
Funding for a measure or a specific part of a marketing concept may not exceed 5,000 euros. It is possible for labels to be funded up to twice per year, as long as the total amount of funding per year does not exceed 5,000 euros and as long as each request is dedicated to a different artist on the label’s roster.
My label has no label code. May I still submit an application?
Label Funding by Musicboard was developed in dialogue with Berlin’s independent labels. The label code of the German organisation for the management of neighbouring rights (GVL) was thereby established as a precondition for funding. The label code serves as assurance of a certain degree of professionalism and business structure on the part of the label; therefore it is not possible to submit an application without one. In order to apply for a label code from GVL, certain steps must be taken. See GVL’s website for help and an overview.
Why does Musicboard require management professionalism and two successful releases as a condition of label funding?
In order to ensure that the label’s artist will receive the indirect and qualitative benefits of Label Funding, the label must demonstrate its professionalism and competence. The nature of this proof can vary depending on its business form and operating structure. Some examples could include a trade association statement, confirmation of a collaboration with an outside distributor, or press materials relating to previous releases. In addition, the Label Funding applicant must already have completed the two digital or physical original releases. Original releases can include singles, EPs, or albums.
What should my specification of costs look like?
The specification of costs involves a simple listing of project-related expenditures and income during the time frame of the planned measure. The individual budget items can be easily listed in the online application form. A separate financial plan is not required. Basically, the cost estimate must realistically describe the financing of the planned measure, but need not address the financing of the entire marketing concept or incidental costs of the production of a release. If your company invoices sales tax and pays it to the tax office, only net amounts without VAT must be stated in the specification of costs. Non-cash compensation, for example in the case of pro-bono activity, need not be calculated into the cost estimate and may be listed separately in the application form. An application in the Label Funding programme does not require cash contributions such as income or cash from the applicant’s own resources.
When exactly is the application deadline?
The application deadlines for the Label Funding programme in 2024 are February 15, May 15 and August 15 at 6 p.m. Until then, applications can be received online and will be posted as received before the deadline. The application is successfully received as soon as it appears in your user profile in the »Submitted Applications« section. We recommend allowing sufficient time for the upload of the application and attachments. If there are technical issues in the application submission, please contact:

Questions about funding and project start

When and how will I be informed about the decision of the jury?
The announcement of the jury’s decision follows the application deadline by roughly 3 to 4 weeks. Applicants are informed by email. Normally there are more applications received than funds available, and Musicboard is not obliged to explain its decision. There is no legal entitlement to funding.
I have received funding approval – what’s next?
Since some time has passed since the application was submitted, grantees should first check if the project can be realised as planned. If the granted funding is now less than stated in the application, grantees must provide an updated financial plan. If there are changes in the project’s outline or the specified time frame, these must be communicated to and approved by Musicboard. If the financial plan is up to date and has been approved, for the purposes of the grant contract it is considered legally binding, and is sent to the grantees with a number of attachments and notes, as for example the General Auxiliary Regulations for Project Funding (›Allgemeinen Nebenbestimmungen für Zuwendungen zur Projektförderung‹, also known as ›ANBest-P‹). The funding monies can only be paid out after the signed grant contract and other documents are returned to Musicboard Berlin. The documents will include a so-called Mittelabruf (»retrieval of funds«) in which grantees can supply data about installment payments that will be matched to the funding request. After transfer, the installment must be used within the next two months. For requesting funding payments, a bank account must be created that is in the name of the official grantee and will solely be used for expenditures on the project.
When may I start the project?
The funded project may begin once Musicboard Berlin and the applicant have closed a funding contract. Alternatively, following an affirmative decision by the jury, a preliminary preparation (›Vorzeitiger Maßnahmenbeginn‹) can be requested on the basis that the grantee will assume all risks in commencing the project. Please note: a claim of funding exists only upon closing of the funding contract, which in addition to the approved grant amount and the financing plan also establishes the time frame required for the development and completion of the project. In principle, projects may not begin before the approved commencement date and must be completed within the approved time frame.
How do I use the Musicboard logo and how do I align my PR work with Musicboard?
Our contractual agreement specifies that any project-related analog or digital release about the project, the funding by, the logo of and the name of Musicboard Berlin must be all be indicated. The relevant logo can be found under Forms and Templates. The preferred wording is »funded by Musicboard Berlin GmbH«.
What changes do I need to report to the Musicboard?
In general, Musicboard Berlin must be informed of any changes in terms of the project’s outline (affecting the project’s purpose) and budget. In order to obtain approval for the changes, the overall financing of the project must be secured and the purpose of the funding must still be fulfilled. As a rule, budget positions that have been declared contractually binding may only be altered by 20% without notifying the Musicboard. The Musicboard must be notified of new positions as well as larger deviations.

Questions about the project accounting

What do I need to consider in my accounting once my project has begun?
Once a funded project has begun, different aspects must be taken into account in the use of the funding. These are based on the General Auxiliary Regulations for Project Funding and the Regional Budgetary Code of the State of Berlin (›Landeshaushaltsordnung des Landes Berlin‹). All spending items incurred in the course of the project must be evidenced by original receipts such as invoices, contracts or cash receipts. These must always be supplemented by proof of payment such as bank statements or cash receipts. All invoices and receipts must meet the requirements of proper invoicing, such as date, amount, invoice number, purpose and payee. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Berlin provides more detailed information on the legally required invoice details (in German).
What regulations do I have to comply with when I employ staff or commission artists and other third parties to perform a service?
The Musicboard expects all project participants to be paid appropriately, especially musicians and other professionals. For personnel, the state minimum wage of 13.00 euros applies. The so-called ›Besserstellungsverbot‹ further ensures that project staff may not be paid more than comparable public employees. If a third party is commissioned with services as part of your project, e.g. for technical rental, certain provisions of public procurement law must be met, depending on the volume of the order. For expenditures up to 1,000 euros net, an informal price comparison must be obtained, for example by internet research. For expenditures above 1,000 euros net, at least three written offers must be gathered. The offer with the best cost-benefit relationship is to be selected (not necessarily the cheapest). All contract awards must be documented in writing. In the case of expenses for travel or overnight stays, the German Federal Travel Expenses Law applies. Detailed information can be found in your funding contract as well as in the Guidelines for Final Accounting.
Which expenditures am I not allowed to charge to Musicboard funding?
The funds granted are meant exclusively for project and function-driven purposes in the funded project. To verify this, specific original documentation will be required at the project’s conclusion. Only expenditures that were originally and exclusively applied during the approved project time frame are eligible for reimbursement. Ongoing material and personnel expenses, for example hiring of core staff, insurance or other existing infrastructure, are normally not reimbursable. The same applies to services such as taxis and catering for artists. Taxi costs are accepted only in exceptional circumstances, such as for transport of heavy equipment. Catering expenses for guests is only possible to a limited extent when approved in advance by the Musicboard. In this case a receipt for the expense and the name of the guest hosted must be supplied. Catering for employees and catering with alcohol are generally not eligible for funding.
How and when must I complete my label’s funded measure?
Funded measures must be concluded within the time frame specified in the funding contract. An extension of the project time frame must be requested in writing before the end of the valid time frame, and can only granted within the funding year. The last possible date for project completion is December 31 of the funding year. Within three months of the end of the project time frame, a project accounting must be sent to Musicboard Berlin for review. The so-called proof of use (›Verwendungsnachweis‹) can be written in German or English and must include a cover sheet and written report, a numerical report, the original receipts and account statements during the project time frame. Please use only the provided templates for the written and numerical reports as well as the list of all invoices, and make sure to include the original signature on the cover sheet. All information needed for the preparation of a final accounting is found in our Guidelines for Final Accounting (›Leitfaden für Verwendungsnachweise‹). If by the end of the project time frame, none or not all of the granted funds are needed, the balance must be paid back. If there are deviations from the financial plan or grant purpose, missing attachments or a lack of clarity, Musicboard will contact the grant recipient, who is required to retain all relevant documents for a period of five years. In the worst case certain budget items may not be accepted as eligible for funding which may lead to a (partial) return of granted funds.

The application period for the 2nd funding round 2024 has ended. The next application deadline is 15 August 2024 at 6 p.m.. Applications can presumably be submitted from the beginning of July.