Kelly Kiara

‘This is your chance to become the next success story’: why you should apply for The Hitmaker Fund

With the next round of funding approaching, 2022 Hitmaker grantee Kelly Kiara and PRS Foundation’s Becci Scotcher discuss why the fund is 'vital' for creators.

Sam Moore
  • By Sam Harteam Moore
  • 8 Mar 2024
  • min read

Having worked with the likes of Mabel, Ashnikko and Gorgon City, Kelly Kiara’s status as an established pop songwriter is undoubted. But, as the Leeds-born music creator tells M, she might not have made it this far without the backing of PRS Foundation’s Hitmaker Fund.

‘It’s the absolute reason I was able to continue my passion and grow as an artist and songwriter,’ she explains. ‘I wouldn’t have had the confidence or ability to sustain my consistency within the music industry without receiving Hitmaker funding in 2022.’

Launched in 2017 to support songwriters and producers who primarily work behind the scenes, the Hitmaker Fund seeks to develop those creators who are actively working and producing new music across a range of popular music genres. Grants of between £5,000 and £10,000 are on offer to successful applicants, with two rounds of funding taking place each year — the latest round is set to open on 18 March.

Speaking to M, PRS Foundation’s Senior Grants and Programmes Manager Becci Scotcher says that this funding is ‘vital’ when it comes to advancing the careers of creators like Kelly.

‘Funding like Hitmaker enables creatives to create, promote and sustain their music careers in an increasingly competitive and rapidly-evolving industry,’ she says. ‘It provides them with an opportunity to develop their skills without worrying where the income will come from to enable that to happen. By receiving this funding, songwriters gain the freedom to focus on their craft, collaborate with other talented creatives and access professional development opportunities — ultimately increasing their chances of sustaining their music career.’

Recalling her own experience of applying for the fund, Kelly says the opportunity came ‘at a time in my life when I had been dropped by my label and had no one I felt I could turn to’.

‘I felt I was at a pivotal point in my career, and applying for the Hitmaker Fund was my last push to keep the momentum of my career going,’ she continues. ‘Funding like Hitmaker is the difference between someone having to consider a different path in life or being able to maintain the hard work they have put into achieving their goals, especially in an industry where it is hard to feel seen, heard or valued. Hitmaker made me feel genuinely supported with no hidden agenda.’

Asked for her top tips to pass on to those creators who might be interested in applying for this latest round of Hitmaker funding, Kelly says: ‘Have a think about the best possible outcome for your music and writing, and be honest about how you think you can achieve that with the funding. Be confident and don’t shy away from expressing your past accolades: it’s your opportunity to prove you are confident the funding will benefit you and sustain your career. PRS Foundation love a success story, and this is your chance to become the next one!’

Becci echoes Kelly's point about seizing the opportunity with your Hitmaker application. ‘Think of the application as a business plan for your music career: where do you want to be in five years, how will you get there and how will this funding help you? And don’t forget to shout about your strengths and successes along with where you want to improve.’

'Hitmaker made me feel genuinely supported with no hidden agenda.’ - Kelly Kiara

Anyone interested in applying for Hitmaker, it should be noted, must be a PRS member with at least five credited works (which will either be 'reputable cuts; songs with national radio plays or substantial streams; or written at a reputable writing camp') that are registered with PRS.

‘Hitmaker is for those who have the potential to be writing or producing “hits”,' Becci adds. 'You’ll need to have had some cuts and experience [already], but you’re still on the cusp or at the tipping point of taking your career the next level. You’re making your way there and just need that little push, and this funding would enable you to be in the right rooms and making the right collaborations.'

With the latest round of the Hitmaker Fund opening just over a week on from International Women's Day today (8 March), PRS Foundation is hoping to attract more applications than ever from women and gender-diverse songwriters and producers.

‘It’s been well-documented that in the music industry there is an under-representation of women and gender-diverse creators, particularly those working behind the scenes,' Becci says. 'Having already set up our Women Make Music fund and co-founded Keychange in response to this under-representation, we understand there's always more to be done. Within our Hitmaker Fund, we recognise that we are struggling to reach those tipping-point women and gender-diverse creators who are working behind the scenes in the industry.

‘We know that impostor syndrome is a challenge that many face, not solely in applying for funding but also in their careers. Many won’t apply for opportunities if they don’t feel they fit 90% of the criteria, whereas, typically, men would. I would say, please don’t let this put you off — share all the incredible things you’ve achieved. Watch the guidance videos, see who else we’ve funded before and you’ll likely recognise yourself in those grantees.'

She adds: 'Even if you’re not successful this time, please don’t be downhearted. Funding is a competitive process, but it can be a valuable learning experience and there is an opportunity to get feedback on what can be improved for future applications.'

As well as opening doors to new creative spaces, the funding can also help, Becci notes, with upgrading musical or recording equipment, paying to attend writing camps or funding collaborations with other creators. 'Hitmaker grantees also become part of this incredible network, which empowers women and gender-diverse creators to build supportive communities and advance their professional growth,' she adds.

Kelly agrees: ‘Being in the minority group of women and gender-diverse musicians, it’s important to feel highlighted and not overlooked or undervalued. Now more than ever we are able to create and share our work, and taking it outside of our phones requires backing, a solid plan and, most importantly, confidence that the plan is possible!

'Hitmaker made me feel that way, and it's been invaluable for me and the progression of my career.’

The next round of the PRS Foundation Hitmaker Fund opens on 18 March — find out how to apply here.