When the Well Runs Dry

Resources for musicians impacted financially by coronavirus closures
Midsection Of Man Playing A Guitar, Black And White


As the closures and cancellations stretch on during the social distancing measures to control COVID-19, New Orleans musicians are struggling to make ends meet. These musicians are experiencing a total loss of income with few opportunities to perform. Local organizations have been stepping up to assist.



The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation created the Jazz & Heritage Music Relief Fund, a statewide fund to help Louisiana musicians who have lost income because of COVID-19. They have extended their application deadline to tomorrow, Thursday, April 16 at 8 a.m. CT.

An applicant must meet the following criteria:

  • Has a substantial part of their income that is reliant on live performances;
  • Is a professional musician who has worked for at least one year; and
  • Is currently living in Louisiana.

The online application does not require paperwork to be submitted, and I saw no mention of needing to provide tax documentation. Apply here.

The New Orleans Business Alliance (NOLABA) has created a Gig Economy Relief Fund for musicians and other gig economy workers, such as event production staff, arena workers and rideshare drivers, to help alleviate their loss of income. As of April 4, more than $500,000 has been raised for the fund, which is being distributed in $500 grants. Applicants can re-apply after 45 days if they remain eligible.

Eligible applicants must provide the following:

  • Proof of residency in Orleans Parish;
  • Proof that income is generated via “gig-work”; and
  • Demonstrated loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is no deadline. This program does require documentation, such as a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and bank statements showing inactivity, however, the staff wants to work with those who may not have all of the documents. Apply online here and email them at info@nolaba.org if you need to discuss documentation. Grants will be distributed via PayPal, or paper check if that is preferred.

Nationally, the Recording Academy MusiCares program has created a COVID-19 Relief Fund for musicians losing income during this time. Grants of up to $1,000 are available based on cancelled gigs, and additional funds based on need will also be considered.

Eligible applicants must have the following:

  • At least three years of employment in the music industry; and/or
  • Six commercially released recordings (singles); and
  • Six commercially or promotionally released music videos.

There is no deadline. Applicants must provide documentation proving status as a working musician and loss of income. Apply online here.

More extensive resources, including healthcare and food access, are being catalogued by New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic here and Preservation Hall Foundation here. If you know of additional resources, please share them in the comments.



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