PRS Foundation is the leading funder of new music across all genres in the UK. AMA member Maxie Gedge explains how the Foundation uses video storytelling to help promote and recruit applicants to its Momentum Music Fund.

In partnership with Arts Council England, Spotify and PPL, PRS Foundation’s Momentum Music Fund helps emerging musicians at a tipping point in their career. The Fund offers grants of £5,000-£15,000 for artists/bands to break through to the next level; to support activities such as recording, touring and marketing.

Progression routes are so different for all artists, so it is vital that we harness the success stories of our exceptional grantees to inspire audiences and ensure more musicians apply for Momentum, and that we’re accessible to as diverse a range of music creators as possible. To achieve this, we produce 20-40 case studies each year, which take on many different formats. Musical stories can become incredibly tangible through video, revealing processes, genres, aesthetics, equipment and regional inspirations. For the Momentum Music Fund we produce three video case studies every year.

We make it a priority to nurture good relationships with the music creators and organisations that we support all year round; we go to performances, host events, and act as mentors and advisors to all the musicians we support. This means that we are aware of the needs and challenges facing music creators, and the case study videos aim to unpick these; the artists that we support reveal their challenges at the point of application, and with them we can illuminate the solutions we provide.

Creating video case studies means the grantees can talk directly to potential applicants, enabling relevant, real, and empathetic storytelling.

Throwing Shade is a young songwriter, producer and DJ living in London. She received Momentum funding to produce her debut album, having released four incredibly original and critically acclaimed EPs. She exemplifies our funding criteria perfectly as without funding, she would not have been able to continue on her trajectory. We timed the filming so that the footage could act as an exclusive insight and documentation of the process of writing and recording the album. Ensuring that our cameras were present at the different stages of the writing and recording process, we were able to capture and document insights into the process while exploring the creative arc from idea to product.

Communicating during the production with Throwing Shade and her label, Ninja Tune, we could ensure the end product could be useful for everyone involved. This also created exciting audience development opportunities; by focusing on both the music creator and the Fund, we can potentially gain access to the audiences and fans of the music. As a charity PRS Foundation is in a unique position in that often our most effective patrons are our beneficiaries. We want to make sure that our storytelling isn’t unilateral, we see all of our video content as an audience development opportunity. By making sure that the focus of our outputs is shared equally between the artist and the fund that supports them we can gain access to further audiences and fans of the artists, who represent a wider range of interested parties.

Finding a talented and energetic production company is essential. In our case, we found Content. We send the artists a list of questions ahead of filming so that they can consider their story in the wider context of art and music. We purposefully frame all of our filming as conversations, so as to avoid dependence on music industry jargon. In the example of Throwing Shade, a huge part of the story was visual; we aimed to showcase her creative freedom by travelling with her around London, and illustrate how her studio has impacted her craft by spending some time with her while she writes there. As music is at the centre of what we do, the editing hinges around this; the dynamics of the sound inform the editing and ensure that whoever is listening, be it one of our partners, such as Spotify, one of our trustees, a music fan, a musician, or the musician we are covering, the music is audible and excellent.

Creating video case studies means we have dynamic content for all of our channels. We have recently partnered with Canvas, a multi-channel network, who are helping PRS Foundation to know and build our YouTube audience. When we release case studies, we promote them to our followers, who are predominantly musicians, industry representatives and stakeholders, but it has been our aim to capitalise on the potential music fans searching for their favourite bands, and expand our audiences in that way. Playlisting our grantees content alongside the case studies and on other Youtube channels helps to direct traffic back to us.

Working closely with Content allows us to adapt and edit the footage to produce video content that is optimised for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. This means editing the format and length of the videos so we can communicate the quality of the music in as short a time as possible. Using the content across all our channels means that our core message, identity, and association with our grantees is consistent and clear, and with an imminent rebrand, this has never been more important.

The upcoming series of Momentum case studies start with Throwing Shade and Kagoule, and they can all be found on www.prsformusicfoundation.com

Originally published in the Arts Marketing Association’s JAM Magazine