City creates $500,000 music fund for female singers, writers, engineers and producers

By Faye Penn

New York City is creating a fund to foster equity in the music industry.

On June 4, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) announced that it will award $500,000 in grants to NYC-based female musicians.

The grants will come through MOME’s initiative, the NYC Women’s Film, TV and Theatre Fund, which has since been renamed the NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theater. This is the second round in MOME’s three-year, $5 million program to address underrepresentation in the arts in New York City. In February, the Fund awarded $1.5 million in grants to 63 NYC-based female creatives to support projects in film, TV, theater and digital media. Now, women who make music in New York City are getting a turn at financing, too.

“We are thrilled to announce the addition of music to our NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre and to commit $500,000 to the cause of fostering greater gender equity in the music industry,” says MOME commissioner Anne del Castillo. “This is an important step in our ongoing efforts to increase representation across the media and entertainment sectors.”

According to del Castillo, the call for funding was motivated by data from a recent investigative report into representation in the music industry, conducted by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Among the findings: Only 10 percent of Grammy nominees from 2013 to 2019 were female, and less than 25 percent of Billboard Hot 100 year-end charts released between 2012 and 2019 were by female artists.

To qualify for grants, music projects must be made by female or female-identifying musicians based in New York City and who aren’t signed to a major label. Up to $20,000 in funding will be awarded per act to support (previously unreleased) recording or video projects. According to, applicants also need to “show evidence of a growing fan base, and have played multiple live shows.”

Shira Gans, senior executive director of policy and programs at MOME, emphasizes that the funding be made eligible to women involved in every aspect of music creation. “We didn’t want it just to be about female musical acts,” she says. “We wanted to make sure we were really promoting projects that had a female credit for writers, engineers and producers.”

Applications open up on July 10, 2019, with award recipients announced in March 2020. For more information and to apply, visit