If you are an artist, musician or music business affected by covid-19, there is a variety of financial assistance available both from government and industry sources.  This note outlines the assistance available as at 29th May 2020.


Covid-19 Emergency Grant

The MusicHelps Rapid response grant is currently closed for applications but an update will be announced soon. The grant itself is a direct payment of $500 and is being made available to individuals who meet all of the following criteria:

  • applicant is a NZ citizen, or who holds permanent resident status, who has been working for pay in the NZ music industry for the last 2 years
  • applicant is currently living in New Zealand
  • applicant can provide the names and contact details of two professional referees (not family or friends) who can verify the applicant’s paid work in music
  • applicant can show they have lost music-related income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis
  • applicant has not already received a COVID-19 Emergency Grant from MusicHelps

The bank account name where we deposit the grant must be a personal account in the same name as the applicant.

The grant is not available to businesses or organisations.

More information and the application is available here.

MusicHelps Wellbeing Service

The MusicHelps Wellbeing Service is a 24/7 online, on the phone (toll-free 0508MUSICHELPS) and in-person counselling service fully funded by MusicHelps and provided free of charge to those that make live or recorded music possible or who work in the arts in Aotearoa.

Composer, songwriter or performer, manager or crew, production or backroom person, corporate or retail worker, actor, comedian, dancer or someone who works front or back of house in the arts: the MusicHelps Wellbeing Service is available to you.

You can get in touch with MusicHelps now by calling the support line on 0508MUSICHELPS or sending a message.

MusicHelps Benevolent Fund

Whether you’re a roadie or a singer, a stage tech or a manager, a guitarist or a label employee, a sound engineer or a publisher: if you make live or recorded music possible and you’re experiencing illness, distress and hardship, you may be eligible for crisis assistance from the MusicHelps Benevolent Fund.

Examples of the kind of assistance the fund can provide includes helping with medical needs in the event of illness, facilitating an essential consultation from a professional that would otherwise be unavailable to you due to cost, or the replacement of equipment or belongings in the aftermath of a catastrophic loss.

More information can be found here.


Government Wage Subsidy and Extension from 10 June

The government is still offering wage subsidy grants to eligible companies, contractors and sole traders, until 9th June 2020.  From 10th June, eligible companies, contractors and sole traders can apply for an extension of the subsidy for 8 weeks.  The criteria is more strict than the original scheme – you will need to have suffered a 50% loss in revenue in the 30 days preceding your application as compared to the closest period last year.

More information is available here.

Creative NZ Emergency Relief Grant 2020 – closing 29th May

An Emergency Relief Grant is a contribution towards loss of income between 1 March and 30 June due to COVID-19. This grant is a lump sum top-up of the WINZ COVID-19 Wage Subsidy to align with Creative New Zealand’s policy to pay artists and arts practitioners fairly. Applicants to this fund must have successfully applied to the COVID-19 WINZ Wage Subsidy. The Creative New Zealand Emergency Relief fund is available for eligible independent artists and arts practitioners, and members of arts organisations (including groups and collectives).

More information can be found here.

Covid-19 Income Relief Payment – applications from 8th June

If you lose your job (including self-employment) from 1st March 2020 to 30th October 2020 due to covid-19, you may be eligible for the government’s covid-19 income relief payment.  You can apply for up to 12 weeks of payments to help with living costs and give you time to find other work.  There are a number of criteria to meet before the payment is made.  You will be able to apply online from 8th June.  More information can be viewed here.

Leave Support Scheme

The COVID-19 Leave Support Scheme is available for NZ music businesses, including sole traders, to pay their employees who can’t come to work due to Ministry of Health advice, and cannot work from home.

More information including the eligibility criteria is available here.

Government cashflow support for small businesses – until 12th June

The Government will provide interest free loans for a year to small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 economic shock to support their immediate cashflow needs and meet fixed costs.

The scheme will provide $10,000 to every eligible (using the same criteria as the Wage Subsidy) firm, and in addition $1800 per equivalent full time employee, up to a maximum of $100,000 (50 employees). Loans will be interest free if they are paid back within a year. The interest rate will be 3% for a maximum term of five years. Repayments are not required for the first two years.  The loans will be administered by IRD (not banks)

More information is available here.

Government Business Finance Guarantee Scheme

Government is supporting loans (including increases to existing limits) to eligible businesses, as a response to difficulties caused by COVID-19.

Under the scheme, businesses with annual revenue between $250,000 and $80 million can apply to their banks for loans of up to $500,000, for up to three years.   On 4th May, the government announced revisions to the original loan scheme to make it easier for businesses to access a loan.  If you applied for a loan before 4th May and were declined, you should consider applying again now.

The loans are administered by banks.  If you want to apply for a loan, you can find more information on your bank’s website or contact your bank directly.

The government’s original announcement can be found here.

Further Government Support and Information for Businesses

There is other government support available to businesses including tax support and business consultancy services.  The government’s central resource for COVID-19 business information with updates about COVID-19 and guidance to help businesses is business.govt.nz, available here.

Businesses can also access free advice via the government supported Covid-19 helpline, phone numbers available here.