FACTOR – How We Got Funded
On March 27th, Debs & Errol got funded to produce their Sherlock song, “Locked” through FACTOR, in particular, the DEMO grant. Debs and Lizette, Errol’s sister, applied for this grant and in this article, Lizette gives her very candid take on how they got funded.
FACTOR, the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings, was founded in 1982 and is a source of financial assistance for the independent Canadian music industry. As a private non-profit organization, FACTOR is dedicated to providing assistance toward the growth and development of the Canadian music industry. The foundation administers contributions from private radio broadcasters as well as two components of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada Music Fund. Support is provided to Canadian recording artists, songwriters, managers, labels, publishers, event producers and distributors through various programs, at various stages of their careers. Whether an artist is looking to record a demo, a full-length sound recording, market and promote an existing album, or showcase and tour domestically or internationally, funding is available.
FACTOR explains its process pretty extensively and I’ll warn you in advance that the process can be complicated and time consuming (and confusing.)
This isn’t a complete how-to. It’s just me editorializing about my experiences; hopefully it will be helpful.
Getting Feedback for Success
First and foremost, ask for help. Get Feedback! The first time we tried, we weren’t successful. We emailed our project coordinator and when we asked for feedback, the jurors were constructive, not cruel. They gave scores based on Song, Vocals & Lyrics, Musicality and Bio/Presentation. It gave us a lot of information about what exactly they were looking for and where we scored low. One of the things they seemed to comment on was how marketable the song was and what was the “direction” of the band. So in our second application for a different song, we really tried to build up the “identity” of the band more and emphasize the “direction”. The second song we applied with, admittedly, was much more appealing to the general public and less “geeky.” The second time, we were successful!
- Don’t wait until the last minute to apply because, if you’re a new user, they need to “review” your profile and you won’t be able to apply unless they’ve reviewed it.
- The site abounds in pop-ups. Make sure pop-ups aren’t blocked on your computer. And often times, I was clicking and clicking and clicking on things thinking nothing was happening and all the while, more and more new pop-ups were being created but I didn’t notice.
- Make sure you click on all the headings in the top upper right hand corner. They sometimes change depending on what you’ve done. And you won’t know if you’re missing something unless you’ve clicked on the headings
- Read all the instructions because the instructions are rarely just a simple “fill in this and click.” They will give you salient points that are not intuitive as you’re filling out the application.
- Links may not look like links! Try to click on everything just in case you miss something.
- You rarely, if ever, can double-click on something. If you want to edit an entry or find out what’s “in” that entry, you usually have to make sure there’s a bullet beside it and look for an “edit” button.
- The process below applies mostly to an independent musician.
If you are an independent artist, you need to create three profiles – your user profile, artist profile and applicant profile. They’re distinct and they all have to be created. It’s actually not intuitive how to create profiles. The easiest way is to click on “Our Programs” then click on “APPLY NOW.” You’ll be given an option to create a new user profile.
After you create a user profile, you have to create an artist and applicant profile. The basic instructions for creating profiles (and the difference between them) is found on their page:
Once you create and “save” your artist profile, the upper right hand corner headings will change. If you hover over the headings, you’ll be given many options. Make sure you click on all of them and complete each of the headings.
“Artist Profile” allows you to add people in your band. To this day, I still haven’t figured out how the site looks at each account and gives access to some and not to others. I tried to keep access completely open for all members of the band. But the band members seemed to get some emails and not others.
So, make sure the main person who does all your administrative stuff makes the first user account and is the main account administrator.
Each band member has to upload proof of Canadian citizenship/residency. (I warned you that you should never wait until the last minute to apply. A lot of this stuff takes time!)
“Qualifying Criteria” is the most time-intensive. It’s also very important because it’s used to “rate” you at a “level”. The “level” at which you have been reviewed will dictate which grants you can apply for.
Update this often because FACTOR does periodic reviews even if you don’t request a review. They may increase your level if you can show evidence that you are increasing in popularity or your sales are increasing, etc.
When you’re done all the headings, don’t forget to click on “Request Review” which is on the first page of Artist Profile. Until they do this review, you can’t apply for grants.
Go through the same process as the Artist Profile. Don’t forget to click on any of the headings. And don’t forget to “Request Review”. You need a review of both your artist and your applicant profile.
FACTOR will email you once you’ve been reviewed and assign you a “Project Coordinator.” It’s only then can you apply for grants.
Applying for Grants – “Projects”
You will find the specifics for applying for a FACTOR grant here:
Once you click on “Projects” in the heading and “Create a New Project”, your project will appear on the “Project Dashboard.” In order to go into the application, you have to click on the project name (it’s a live link though it doesn’t look like it.)
This is where things change depending on what you applying for. My main piece of advice is make sure you click on “Save” at every window and every pop-up window you are at. Once you save something, tiny words will appear at the top saying it was saved successfully. So sometimes you don’t realize things are getting saved. But sometimes, you can’t move on unless you’ve saved the page you’re working on.
And sometimes you lose everything if you don’t save often.
If you’re applying for the “Demo” grant which is what Debs & Errol applied for, you’ll come to the main page of your project and you’ll see the project number (which is good to quote on all emails when you’re asking a question about it), your project name/artist name/applicant name/project coordinator name and salient dates (like date submitted/approved/etc.) On this main page, you’ll see “components” of your project. Again, it’s not obvious but the component is a live link. The component will be called “Sound Recording” for the Demo grant. Click on “Sound Recording” to get into the application. Once inside the application, you’ll see at the center of the page the various parts of the application that are needed to complete – Goals, Component Information, Public Funding, Budget, Milestones, Transactions and Correspondence. For the Demo grant, luckily, most of these headings don’t apply. Goals and Component Information are the only portions that you need to complete.
As I said, it varies depending on what grant you applying for. But don’t forget my “General advice” because you can miss things and get confused especially if you’re not reading the instructions or doing things quickly.