International Showcase Fund
The International Showcase Fund (ISF) offers vital export support for UK-based artists, bands, songwriters and producers who have been invited to perform or create new music at international showcasing festivals or conferences.
ISF will also support UK-based music creators throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to remain export ready, with grants available to support: virtual performances at international showcases, or performances at UK based showcase events that have an export industry audience.
An ISF Grant can support the following activities:
- For Artists/Bands: ‘In Real Life’ attendance of international showcase events
- For Artists/Bands: Virtual attendance and engagement in International Showcase events via live-stream or pre-recorded performances, plus digital conference attendance
- For Artists/Bands: Virtual or ‘In Real Life’ performance at UK-based events where there is an export focus and a significant international delegation, plus conference attendance
- For Writer/Producers: ‘In Real Life’ attendance of song-writing camps which are geared towards international collaboration, creative and career progression
- For Writer/Producers: Virtual attendance at a song-writing camp which is geared towards international collaboration, and creative and career progression.
WE ARE ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR IN REAL LIFE EVENTS, HOWEVER DUE TO ONGOING UNCERTAINTY AND CHANGING COVID-19 TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS DOMESTICALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY, WHEN CONSIDERING AN APPLICATION APPLY CAUTION AND EXPECT ANY OFFER OF SUPPORT TO COME WITH RELATED CONDITIONS. WE ARE UNABLE TO SUPPORT ANY INTERNATIONAL ACTIVITY THAT GOES AGAINST CURRENT GOVERNMENT AND FCO GUIDANCE. IF YOU WOULD LIKE FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE GET IN TOUCH WITH THE PRS FOUNDATION GRANTS TEAM IN ADVANCE OF APPLYING. THIS WEBPAGE WILL BE UPDATED REGULARLY TO REFLECT UPDATES.
Am I eligible for support from the International Showcase Fund?
Which showcase festivals are covered by the fund?
Deadlines and turn-around times
How much can I apply to the International Showcase Fund for?
What can I apply for the grant to cover?
Can I apply for funding for my manager or crew?
Applicants with access requirements
What will I need to demonstrate in my application?
What is digital contingency and what can it be used for?
Do you fund 100% of costs?
What is music export?
How are decisions made?
Guidance on live streaming and licensing
Insurance, Risk Assessments and Covid-19
How often can I apply for and/or receive ISF support?
- Are you a band/artist/songwriter based in the UK?
- Do you write and/or perform your own music, that is exceptional?
- Have you been invited to perform or participate in real life or virtually at the following:
- an international event, with a conference element, that is geared towards music industry professionals, rather than the general public
- at a UK based event that has a clear export focus and is geared towards non-UK international music industry professionals, rather than the general public
- in a songwriting camp which is geared towards international collaboration and creative and career progression**
- Have you got a good profile in the UK (i.e. been featured in the national press/had airplay on national radio/and indie release)?
- Do you have a list of meetings with music industry executives (e.g. publishers, labels, agents, etc.) confirmed for when you are at your chosen showcase?
- Do you have a strong business case for attending this specific event (e.g. are you building upon prior success there, or following up on significant buzz surrounding your band in that particular country)?
- Are you in need of funding support and not in a situation where other companies can and should cover the relevant costs of your in real life or virtual participation?***
** We will prioritise supporting songwriters at camps associated with international showcasing and conference events but welcome applications for one-off writing camps. For longer-term songwriting career development, including international activity, see the Hitmaker Fund
** Can signed artists apply?
The International Showcase Fund can and often supports artists and music creators signed to record labels, publishing companies and those working with existing team members. However, you will be asked when applying which companies you are working with and why ISF support is still needed, and advisors and partners may feel based on your application that support is not required. We expect to see financial contributions from medium-large companies who will benefit financially from the applicant being supported with public and private funding via the International Showcase Fund.
We encourage applications from DIY/self-releasing artists and from those signed to independent labels when still in need of support. If you are signed to a major label or major affiliated label or publisher in the territory you are travelling to, you are ineligible for ISF support and should not apply. If you are unsure, please contact email@example.com before applying.
If you answer yes to all of the questions above then you are eligible to apply.
If any of the above doesn’t apply to you, you could still be eligible to apply to one of our other funding options.
Eligible events are those that have a mostly international music industry audience or delegation. This applies in the current Covid-19 pandemic across International Showcase events, virtual attendance at international showcase events and song-writing camps, and UK events^ with an export focus and non-UK based music industry audience.
The fund cannot support artists to play at festivals for the general public, or to attend conferences solely as a delegate. There are over 50 eligible events each year, and for a full list of eligible events and related application deadlines can be found here.
If you have been invited to play an event and are unsure of its suitability, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
^ Support for UK-based showcase activity is considered on case-by case basis, where partners deem them to be strategically important with priority always going towards showcases in international markets. Please contact the grants team for clarity ahead of an application.
ISF runs on a rolling deadline due to varying event organiser schedules. Specific deadline dates for key events can be found here.
We recommend you apply for funding soon after being invited to showcase in order to give our panel of industry experts and partners enough time to consider your application to turnaround a decision as quickly as possible.
As a rough guide, our experts consider applications 2-3 months before showcase events take place. While the processing of visas is entirely your responsibility, it can take 3 months for some territories. For this reason, we prefer to receive applications 10-12 weeks prior to the event taking place and must receive applications at least 8 weeks prior to the event taking place.
Under certain circumstances (e.g. change of management, a late invite from the event, the artist’s ability to fulfil funding partners’ diversity goals) applicants can submit an Exceptional Circumstances Form for partners to consider time sensitive applications within 8 weeks of an event taking place. To do so, please download and complete this form before emailing email@example.com.
Please note, new applicants and non-funded artists will be prioritised.
The table below outlines maximum grant amounts based on the size of your performance party (i.e. no. of band members), alongside any potential contribution to your Management or digital contingency.
|ISF Strand||Number of performing members or writing/producing team||Management*||Digital
|Solo artist or song-writer||Duo||Trio||Four+|
|International Showcasing ‘In Real Life’ Events||£1,500||£2,500||£3,500||£4,500||£1,000||£1,000|
|International Showcasing Virtual Events**||£2,250||£2,250||£2,250||£2,250||£250||N/A|
|International ‘In Real Life’ Song-writing Camps||£1,500||£2,500||£3,500||£4,500||£1,000||N/A|
|International Virtual Song-writing Camps||£2,250||£2,250||£2,250||£2,250||£250||N/A|
|UK Based ‘In Real Life’ Events***||£650||£1,100||£1,500||£2,000||£250||£1000|
|UK Based Virtual Events***||£2,250||£2,250||£2,250||£2,250||£250||N/A|
We can contribute a maximum of 90% of your trip’s overall costs and expect at least 10% of costs to be covered by the artist, manager*, label, publisher, etc.
*Because we recognise the importance of management support at the event, you also can apply for the above support for your manager to attend. Applicants will be asked to detail their manager’s plans, roles and likely export outcomes.
**In situations where the production costs (i.e live streaming, filming, venue hire, content editing) are being covered by a partner organisation or production partner, applicants can apply for a maximum of £1000 to cover music creator time and/or submission fees.
*** Support for UK-based showcase activity is considered on case-by case basis, where partners deem them to be strategically important with priority always going towards showcases in international markets. Please contact the grants team for clarity ahead of an application.
We also advise that artists, managers and music creators make use of the contingency proportion of their budget to work through any risks posed by Covid-19.
The tables below outlines the main costs which can be covered under each strand. Please note, this list is not exhaustive – please contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are unsure of any unlisted costs.
|Cost||International Showcasing ‘In Real Life’ Events||International Showcasing Virtual Events||International ‘In Real Life’ Song-writing Camps|
|International Travel e.g flights||☑||☒||☑|
|Domestic Travel e.g trains||☑||☑||☑|
|Artist/band fees e.g. rehearsal time and time spent performing||☑||☑||☒|
|Per diems (daily expenses)||☑||☒||☑|
|Marketing and promotion||☑||☑||☑|
|Equipment and plug in purchase||☒||☒||☑|
|Filming and live streaming costs||☑||☑||☒|
|Music Creator time||☑||☑||☑|
|Digital conference or delegate passes||☑||☑||☑|
|Cost||International Virtual Song-writing Camps||UK Based ‘In Real Life’ Events||UK Based Virtual Events|
|International Travel e.g flights||☒||☒||☒|
|Domestic Travel e.g trains||☑||☑||☑|
|Artist/band fees e.g. rehearsal time and time spent performing||☒||☑||☑|
|Per diems (daily expenses)||☒||☑||☒|
|Marketing and promotion||☑||☑||☑|
|Equipment and plug in purchase||☑||☒||☒|
|Filming and live streaming costs||☒||☒||☑|
|Music Creator time||☑||☑||☑|
|Digital conference or delegate passes||☑||☑||☑|
*Please note we will support reasonable costs associated with covid testing. We will NOT cover costs of applicants who need to quarantine or who against FCO travel advice perform at a country within the Red List.
You can also apply for up to £1,000 towards the cost of a manager to accompany you/support you – please see table above for strand specific maximum grant limits. Applicants will be asked to detail their manager’s plans, roles and likely export outcomes.
As showcases generally have short stage turnaround times, and generally just involve linechecks – our advice is that it’s better to rely on the in-house crew. If in certain circumstances you are travelling with a Tour Manager rather than your manager, or other crew please explain in the application why they are required for the specific showcase you are applying for, please do note that partners will prioritise the costs associated with getting the music creator/band to the showcase i.e. travel/accommodation.
If an artist’s disability or accessibility requirements warrant additional support – please see additional access needs section for more information.
We recognise that for disabled music creators with access requirements, some proposed activity incurs additional costs, meaning that applicants may require additional grant support.
Music creators with access requirements are advised that:
– When submitting an ISF application, applicants should submit Expenditure and Income breakdowns which do not consider additional access costs.
– At the end of the budget section, you will have the opportunity to detail additional access requirements needs which will be considered by PRS Foundation’s management team.
Funding decisions will not be affected by additional accessibility support requests and if selected, an appropriate offer amount will be pledged.
This is a very competitive scheme, and currently only 45-55% of applicants are awarded funding. For highly competitive events such as SXSW the percentage of successful applicants may be lower. You will therefore need to make the strongest possible case as to why you should be supported. Artists need to be export ready.
You will need to have concrete plans of what outcomes you expect from the showcase/export event and how you will achieve these, such as:
- A clear case that you are export ready including your career successes to date, and why this showcase is important to expand your export potential
- Knowing who you intend to meet with (specific names of people are better than just the companies they represent).
- How you are going to promote yourself before and whilst there
- Stipulating any pre-existing relationships you might have in the country of the event (i.e. music industry executives that specifically want to see your band at the event)
- If you are participating at a virtual event, how you are going to ensure your attendance is of a high quality and how you are going to deliver your video/live-stream in an impactful way
- If you are requesting digital contingency support (In real life events only) how you will use this to further your career internationally if it is not used for virtual performance
If you are travelling abroad, you will also need to demonstrate a clear understanding of the risks of attending an international showcase in the current climate. This includes:
- Following UK Government and FCO guidelines on travel and quarantine regarding travel to your showcasing territory. Projects which conflict with that advice will not be supported.
- An awareness of the destination territories travel and quarantine information, and their current Covid-19 risk i.e. Rate of Infection, Lockdown status etc.
- An understanding of the risks involved in attending the showcase, and full confidence in the risk assessments provided by the event organisers.
For further information please see our information regarding insurance, travel and risk assessments below.
We recognise that travelling to in real life international or UK-based showcase events that there is a risk of COVID interruptions which mean you maybe unable to participate in real life. Many showcase events are taking place in hybrid forms, and should artists be unable to perform they will offer a digital platform so that they may showcase virtually, and not lose the showcasing opportunity. With this in mind, when you apply for either in real life international showcasing or for UK-based in real life showcasing, you can apply for an additional £1,000 to enable you to create a virtual performance which can be used for this alternative purpose. We would also expect you to outline how you will use this content if it is not needed as a contingency to further your international career.
Our guidance on what to do if you are unable to participate at your awarded showcase event can be found here.
You will be expected to finance at least 10% of costs of the trip yourself or from other sources. Please be aware that we are not always able to fund you to the full amount that you have requested. Therefore, when budgeting for your trip, please take into account that you might not receive the full 90% that you have applied for.
When allocating funding we seek out the cost of the cheapest possible flights, transfers and accommodation options at the time of decision and use these as benchmarks when assessing budgets laid out in applications.
We recommended you use websites such as Skyscanner, Opodo and Travelsupermarket to find the cheapest tickets and work your budgets out using these prices.
We encourage applicants to make use of the contingency allocation in the budget to cover any increased costs due to Covid-19.
In light of the Covid-19 pandemic PRS Foundation will hold all successful grant payments until we can be confident the event will go ahead. We strongly advise that artists refrain from booking travel and accommodation until they are confident the event will go ahead, and are aware of the specific refund policies of their providers. Additionally, partners are unable to support travel to ANY RED LIST country, we may offer an award on the basis that that classification may change but cannot release funds until this is confirmed by FCO guidance.
We will still be running our exceptional circumstances process for grantees whose events are cancelled so that ISF partners can support grantees and make decisions relating to grant support and potential reclaims. For further information on reclaims please see our guidance page regarding coronavirus advice for applicants and grantees performing overseas.
No. As outlined above, you will be expected to finance at least 10% of costs of the trip yourself or from other sources. Please be aware that we are not always able to fund you to the full amount that you have requested. Therefore, when budgeting for your trip, please take into account that you might not receive the full 90% that you have applied for.
For attending at any song-writing camp or showcase in the US – such as SXSW – all UK acts must get an appropriate visa. It is your responsibility to process visas and to fully research options as there have been occurrences of musicians being turned away with devastating consequences.
Following discussions between the Musicians’ Union, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, British Underground, SXSW and others, the received information is that provided you are performing for no fee at official showcases and for purely promotional purposes only, you should be able to enter the U.S. under an ESTA – prior to the pandemic there were reports of artists / bands having their ESTAs revoked unaccountably by the US authorities days before travel meaning in recent years we have not recommended using ESTA to enter the US to perform at any music showcasing event.
Under normal circumstances we would advise people to apply for a B1/B2 visa or, if performing outside the permitted showcase exception, a P or O visa. The B Visa is less costly and time consuming than the O or the P visa.
However, if you are only doing the official SXSW showcase, whilst the B1 visa is ideal, given the current backlogs as a result of the pandemic at US consulates, it may not be possible to get a B1 visa, in which case we would recommend ESTA. This advice is contrary to what we say in a normal year, but it’s not a normal year.
For information on the ESTA Visa Waiver Programme and / or the B1/B2 visa, please see the latest guidance from the Musicians’ Union and British Underground which includes an advice document to assist the process.
There are advantages to entering the US with on a work visa (e.g. you can play paid shows and unofficial showcases and can take advantage of more opportunities). We therefore recommend researching this process. For information on obtaining work visas for US showcase events, please go to the Tamizdat or Traffic Control Group websites.
Gathering all the required paperwork for a visa can be time consuming and can take 2-3 weeks to gather and we advise applying for work visas as soon as possible, and at least three months ahead of a US showcase event in order to save money with a view to try and avoid the likely processing delays. It is possible to apply closer to the event but costs increase significantly.
Following discussions with Tamizdat we would advise due to current visa backlogs within the US that for applicants who are looking to enter on a O or P Visa you should look to file your petition as soon as possible and ideally, before mid-November to try and avoid any additional premium processing costs. For SXSW 2022, we do not yet know how the delays will affect any visa application and when that might mean a premium processing fee is needed. Therefore, we advise that you get all your paperwork ready and apply to the first (November) deadline – with the understanding that we cannot fund retrospective costs.
This advice was last updated 22/10/2021 and was considered correct at time of posting. We will endeavour to update this guidance should information availiable change but advise applicants to undertake their own research.
Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, we also recommend applicants are confident and familiar with the travel documentation required for EU performances.
We recommend given the changing and evolving nature of the situation reviewing the Musicians’ Union Guidance and interactive flowchart for musicians visiting the EU. We also recommend reviewing the Incorporated Society of Musician’s Guidance regarding country specific travel for musicians.
So, you or your band is well on the way to breaking in the UK. You’ve had some success with your releases, toured the country OR have been involved in successful and meaningful writing and studio sessions in your home country and are now eyeing territories beyond our shores to develop your career. In short, you are ready to export your music and explore international opportunities to learn, network and collaborate.
The UK is one of the biggest exporters of new music in the world. Every year our finest emerging talent is invited to key music industry-focused festivals and showcasing events to perform to interested international labels, promoters, agents and publishers or attend conferences delivered by the same.
Although it is crucial for an act to attract and secure deals in territories outside of the UK, these initial forays overseas can be expensive. The International Showcase Fund exists to help cover the costs of these trips, enabling artists to connect with and showcase to their potential next label, promoter, music supervisor, sync agents or potential future collaborators overseas.
All funding decisions are made by International Showcase Fund partners PRS Foundation, Department for International Trade, British Underground, Arts Council England, the Musicians’ Union, PPL, Creative Scotland, Wales Arts International and Arts Council Wales, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Invest NI. For high-demand showcase events such as SXSW, a panel of independent music industry experts meets to select artists. Decisions are made based on the criteria stated in our Guidance Pages.
If as an unsuccessful applicant you are unhappy with the funding decision and believe correct procedure has not been adhered to, please see our Grievance Procedure document. Funding partner decisions are final.
Please ensure that you comply with licensing regulations relating to live streams and pre-recorded content. Signed music creators should consult contracts and liaise with record companies and music publishers if needed to ensure that content is cleared for use and for exploitation.
As per PRS for Music’s Music Streaming Licence page:
Those wishing to host a live-stream via their own website can apply for a limited online music licence (LOML).
If you’d like to discuss live streaming or the possibility of a Music Streaming Licence, please email PRS for Music at email@example.com or call the PRS for Music licensing team on +44 (0)20 3741 3888, 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic, we advise that all applicants must have understood the associated risks with attending domestic or international events.
You must be confident that the event organiser is taking your health and safety seriously, and you should seek out confirmation and discussion from event organisers on their risk assessment. You should also have a risk assessment in place for yourself and your travelling party. There is good guidance on the Musician’s Union website to support you in developing this.
You should also ensure that you have appropriate insurance in place and have thought through the financial risks of any Covid-19 related cancellations or postponements. You should consider the impact on accommodation, PD’s and/or repatriation and review your insurance cover, and that of the event organisers.
Finally, we will NOT cover costs of applicants who need to quarantine or who against FCO travel advice perform at a country within the Red List.
The International Showcase Fund is designed to support an applicant’s first or crucial steps into international territories. As such, we recommend applying for support for the most suitable events and territories for your career level. Because music creators must be invited officially before applying for ISF support, there is no limit on the number of ISF applications you can make per calendar year.
We also accept applications from previous ISF grantees. However, please note that ISF partners may prioritise those not funded previously, and it is less likely that you will be supported for two events in the same territory*. If you have been previously funded to virtually attend an international showcase event, you are able to apply for further in real life activity at the same event in the future. Additionally in light of Covid-19 if you have been awarded an ISF grant to attend an event which was cancelled due to the pandemic you may also reapply to the International Showcase Fund for the same event in future years.
* In exceptional circumstances (i.e. for specialist genre-based events such as Folk Alliance, JazzAhead of Americana Fest), artists may be able to make a strong business case for a second year of ISF support. If you have been invited to return to such an event for a second year in a row, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org before a second application can be made.
Please apply when:
- You are confident that you are export ready
- You have been invited to showcase at an international showcasing event
- Music industry figures are hungry to see you play
If all of the above points apply to you, then apply now.
If you have already started your application, or if you would like to login to complete your evaluation, please click here.
Please note, new applicants and non-funded artists will be prioritised.