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Incubator Fund FAQs

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Youth Music's new Incubator Fund offers grants to music businesses who want to support the career development of 18-25s.

Watch our recent Q&A and read the frequently asked questions below to find out more about the fund and how to apply.

Got questions we haven't answered here?

I’m a Sole Trader. Am I eligible to apply? What is the minimum I can apply for?

Yes, you are eligible to apply. The minimum amount you can apply for is £5,000 and the maximum is £15,000.

I don’t have any accounts because I haven’t been set up for long enough. Can I still apply?

We ask for accounts as part of the application process for two reasons. First, so that we can get an idea of your financial position. And second, to check that you are managing your finances. If you don’t yet have formal accounts then we’ll accept a spreadsheet that tracks your income and expenditure to date, or your latest management accounts.

I am a young person myself (ie 25 or under). - can I apply to this fund to support myself and other young people?

Applications to the fund need to be made by organisations rather than individuals. However if you are set up as a Sole Trader you can make the application through your business.

If you aren’t set up as a business then you’ll need to wait to apply for the new fund we are launching later in the year. Sign up to our Creatives newsletter and we’ll let you know when the new fund launches.

Can I apply to the access fund and also request access costs in my application? What’s the difference?

The access fund supports Disabled people to cover the additional costs they may incur in making an application to Youth Music - more information, including how to apply, here.

Whether or not you identify as Disabled, you can also include access costs for 18-25s within your budget. These are things that they might need to be able to participate in your programme, such as childcare costs, travel and accommodation or other living costs.

I am based in Northern Ireland and would like to deliver a programme there – can I apply?

Sorry, the funding is not eligible to be spent in Northern Ireland.

My organisation hasn’t worked with 18-25s before – can we still apply to the Incubator Fund?

Yes. But we’ll want to see that you have a genuine desire to incubate 18-25s and diversify the music industries, and aren’t just chasing the cash.

I’m an existing Youth Music grantholder – can I apply?

Yes. Although if you are already funded to work with 18-25s then you are less likely to be prioritised for funding.

If you are already funded to work with 18-25s and think this fund could add value to your existing grant, we recommend a call with your Grants and Learning Officer (we’d want to ascertain what could be covered by your existing grant to advise you in the best way).

If I apply for this fund and Youth Music's Fund A at the same time, what are my chances of getting both?

It is unlikely that you would be awarded both, but that would depend on the nature of the work you want to do. You can’t apply to both Fund A and the Incubator Fund for the same piece of work.

Take a look at the guidance notes (Incubator Fund, Fund A) and see which one is a better fit. The success rate for Fund A is around 40%. We don’t yet know the success rate for the Incubator Fund but anticipate that it will be very competitive.

Can I apply to the Incubator Fund for a programme that supports 18-25s to deliver projects with children (ie under 18s)?

The main focus of the Incubator Fund is career progression for 18-25s. If they are looking to have a career in music education then this may involve some work with under 18s - however the focus should be on the professional development of the 18-25s.

Why can’t I apply for any capital costs as part of this fund? We need specialist equipment.

You can put some of the budget towards capital items in the ‘organisational and delivery costs’ section of your budget. But this fund is designed primarily to fund people and activities.

I can’t apply in this round – will there be future funding rounds?

Yes. We plan to run another funding round in early 2021.

I’m a music business and I already have a paid internship programme. Can I now use Youth Music funding to pay for this programme?

This is not a wage replacement programme and if you’re already paying interns properly through your own revenue streams that’s great - please carry on doing this! However, you can apply to Youth Music to enhance your existing programme - for example by increasing the professional development aspect, or including access costs for interns to make it more inclusive and diverse.

We are a consortium of organisations that would like to work together to deliver a programme. Is this possible?

Yes! We’re keen to see some applications from consortia as we think this will be good for networking and joined-up working locally. If you want to apply as a consortium then you will need to identify who will be the lead organisation - the funding agreement and legal responsibility will sit with them. The lead applicant would then have partnership agreements in place with the other members of the consortium.

COVID-19 will affect the programme I want to deliver as well as having a wider impact on my business. How should I talk about this in my application?

We recommend that you plan your programme around some form of social distancing measures being in place for the next 12 months and with the potential of future lockdowns. There is a specific application question that asks how you have planned your activity around potential disruption caused by COVID-19.

In terms of how it affects your business, we recommend that you are realistic in your financial budgets and consider the opportunities this fund can bring in terms of trialling new ways and products.

Would this fund support 18-25s working in specific genres such as classical, jazz or folk?

Yes, there are no restrictions related to the type of genre you work in.

If my application is rejected can I apply again?

Yes, unless we specifically tell you otherwise.

How can I find out when the new Youth Music grants for people aged 18-25 are launched?

Sign up to our Creatives newsletter, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram to be kept up-to-date with the latest Youth Music news.

Does my organisation need to have a Safeguarding Policy in place to apply for this grant?

No. But in some instances we would expect you to have one. For example if you are a charity, or if you are working with under 18s or vulnerable adults.

The music industry is concentrated in London. Does that mean that the majority of funding will be concentrated in London?

We will be ensuring that the funding is distributed equitably across England, Scotland and Wales. It is likely that there will be more competition for funding in London than other parts of the country.

We would recommend that London-based projects consider whether they could reach out beyond the central London boroughs and potentially to other parts of the country (particularly as remote working is currently the norm).

Do we need to know at the application stage the 18-25s we will work with?

We’d encourage you to work with 18-25s on your application, so it’s informed by their needs, but you shouldn’t recruit anyone before you submit your application. It is fine for you to know who you want to target with the opportunities you are creating, but we require all opportunities to be advertised openly to encourage a fair recruitment process. We know a big barrier to entering the industry can be that jobs are not advertised openly and too often things are based on a “who you know” culture.

Should the 18-25s who will be involved with the project be involved with co-developing the bid itself? Or can we create the bid within the existing team and then recruit young people afterwards who build their own individual and tailored projects based on

We’d encourage all applicants to work with 18-25s where possible when developing their bids so it’s informed by their needs. However, this might not be as necessary where you are applying to create some roles working on projects that your company is already delivering / planning to deliver.

If you plan to run a programme where the 18-25s you recruit will decide what projects they want to work on based on their ambitions and needs, and your company would host them and offer support, we’d definitely recommend working closely with 18-25s as you develop your application to help you shape your offer.

I am over 25 can I apply? I am 25 or under can I apply?

As long as you meet our eligibility criteria you can apply for funding whether you are over 25 or under. The opportunities you create must be filled by someone aged 25 or under.


This fund is designed to provide positive action to support 18-25s to gain and sustain employment in the music industries, in recognition of the additional barriers they face and in line with Youth Music’s charitable objectives. This is particularly important at this moment in time as 18-25s are likely to be amongst those most negatively affected by forthcoming economic challenges. The government has responded to this issue with its own ‘Kickstarter Scheme’ also aimed at supporting youth employment.

Can the funding support myself or my existing staff, some of us are 25 and under and some are over?

The Incubator Fund will enable companies to:

  1. Create new opportunities for 18-25 year olds to lead on projects who are paid through wages, commission fees or grants. This must make up at least 50% of the funding you apply for.
  2. The remaining % of funding can be used to cover the costs incurred in creating these opportunities and supporting the people undertaking them.


It is fundamentally about bringing creating new opportunities and support for 18-25s to gain experience and development. The fund is not designed to cover the costs of your company’s everyday activities (or changing of activities), regardless of your age. However, what you plan under strand 2 to support your new recruits might benefit your company as a whole and not just the 18-25s you have engaged. For example you may deliver networking sessions that you all attend, establish a peer to peer mentoring programme, or deliver mental health first aid training to all staff.

Are voluntary organisations eligible to apply?

Yes you would be eligible to apply.  If you are a voluntary organisation run by a management committee and not registered with the Charity Commission or Companies House, then we require a signed copy of your constitution to be uploaded with your application. 

Could we extend some event invites to other 18-25 year olds in the region that were not part of our Incubator Fund, for example networking events?

Yes, if you were running networking events we’d definitely encourage you open this out so more people can benefit from the opportunity.

Could a 6 month project include 2-4 months of prep, recruiting and training?

Yes, we’re happy for organisations to plan in time for set up, and to allocate some budget to things they may need to do to prepare for their project.

Could we give the 18-25 year olds some real-life background experience on our projects and then they can use that experience to do their own project (coming from a small record label)?

Yes absolutely, a great way to run the programme would be inducting a new recruit by getting them involved on a brief the company is already working on, then giving them their own freedom to apply this to an area of work they are passionate about.

Is there a preference for it to be a short or a longer term project?

It really depends on the nature of the opportunity you are able to offer. We will prioritise applicants that offer genuine and meaningful experience. In some cases a three month opportunity could be more meaningful than a 12 month opportunity, but it completely depends on how you design it.

Can I use the Incubator Fund to buy equipment for the 18-25 year olds?

Yes, if that equipment is needed for them to carry out the project they are leading on or essential to their area of work. However, we don’t want a huge proportion of your grant to be spent on equipment.

I’m the director of two different organisations who both want to apply? Will this disadvantage us?

We will look to fund a diverse range of projects so rather than submitting two separate applications we’d encourage you to think about whether the two organisations could work in partnership and apply once.

I have an idea but I’d like to follow up with Youth Music beforehand and ask what they think young people actually want and need? Can I do this?

Yes please contact a member of the team.

Can a Local authority apply?

Local authorities are technically eligible to apply, but they would need to clearly demonstrate that they’re working with a good range of music industry organisations in their locality.

Can one young person be paid in more than one of the ways outlined in the guidance notes?

For example:
1. If we have a young person who identifies that they want to get more hands-on experience delivering sessions, can we apply for a contribution of up to £5k to employ them as a workshop assistant and also give them a micro-grant of £1,000 towards their own creative project?
2. If we commission someone a to respond to a creative brief can we also give them a micro-grant to pay for some professional development training they want to do?

In theory someone could be given a micro-grant whilst they are also commissioned by you or on your payroll. So the two examples above would be acceptable.

However, you shouldn’t pay the same person through the payroll and commission them as a freelancer (as this adds an additional layer of complexity in terms of tax etc.)   

Why is £5,000 the maximum amount available per 18-25 year old?

The Incubator Fund has not been designed to be a wage replacement scheme. We aim to provide a contribution towards the costs of creating work and career development opportunities that are mutually beneficial to employers and 18-25 year olds, so we expect to see an employer contribution too.

The amount of funding available per person has been limited to ensure we can spread our investment and create a wide range of opportunities for 18-25 year olds. Costs were benchmarked against (and exceed) previous similar initiatives such as Arts Council England’s Creative Employment Programme.

From August 2020 employers will be able to access further funding to support job creation through the government’s new ‘Kickstarter Scheme’. This is a £2 billion fund to create 6-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are on Universal Credit and are deemed to be at risk of long-term unemployment.

Kickstarter funding available for each job will cover 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated employer National Insurance contributions and employer minimum automatic enrolment contributions. We would encourage applicants to combine Incubator funds and Kickstarter funds where possible.

Can we use the Incubator Fund to offer opportunities to 18-25s outside of England, Scotland and Wales?

No, all participating 18-25s should be based in England, Scotland or Wales.