Together, we keep the music playing

Despite vast technological innovations over the past 30 years, so many marginalized musicians still struggle to find audiences, be recorded, and make ends meet.

Music Maker is here to help – and you can help, too.

Our Sustenance Program provides assistance for senior artists living on less than $25,000 per year, as well as artists in crisis situations. Among these artists, making ends meet has been a lifelong challenge that has gotten even more difficult with age and infirmity. Our most recent survey shows 50% have skipped paying monthly bills in the past year for lack of funds. Similar pressures have led 22% of them to pawn their instruments this year at least once. Food insecurity is persistent for just under half the group, with 44% having cut their portions to make food last longer, 17% skipping meals, and 17% not having enough food to get through last month.

“[Working with] Music Maker is such an honor. They have done so much for me and my home. I’m living in a nice home and enjoying life. Music Maker helped me do that.” - Big Ron Hunter

While 50% of our partner artists surveyed receive food stamps, only half of them receive more than $20 per month. About two thirds of the artists we surveyed live in rented housing, while most of the remaining artists own their homes. The quality of housing is less than ideal with 39% of artists reporting they have structural problems (roofs, floors, HVAC systems) in their homes that need repair. Most artists have little protection from risk of fire or natural disasters, as two thirds of artists report having no renters or homeowners insurance.

Like many other senior citizens, aging has taken its toll on their health. Only 22% of the artists we surveyed rated their health as good or very good. Mobility is a big challenge with 39% reporting difficulty with walking or moving around.

How do we help artists in need?

Monthly Stipends

We have a core group of senior artists who are living on Social Security payments averaging $1,140 per month. Music Maker sends each of these artists a monthly stipend of $300-400 to help them keep food in the house and pay their rent and utilities.

Emergency Grants

Even with a monthly stipend, many artists in our core group still struggle financially. When extraordinary expenses come along that their monthly budgets cannot accommodate, these artists are eligible for Music Maker’s emergency grants.

We also make emergency, one-time grants to a larger pool of artists on an as-needed basis, including younger artists in crisis and those who don’t meet the strict financial requirements for our monthly stipends.

Home repairs & appliances

We literally put roofs over people’s heads and floors under their feet. Many partner artists own their homes. Significant home repairs like roofing, HVAC systems, flooring, and appliance replacement are often cost-prohibitive for their fixed incomes. Folks do without… unless we can help.

We also make grants to artists who are recovering from home fires or natural disasters.

“Mentally, they stepped in when I needed someone to be there. Musically, to be an Encourager, they have stepped up to the plate. And in financial times, they have stepped out and issued monthly encouragement.” - Aretta Woodruff


Nobody rides for free. The cost of used vehicles and vehicle repair has climbed over the past few ears. We make sure our partner artists can get to gigs, the doctor’s office, and the grocery store in order to maintain their health and their careers.

Medical Support

As artists age and their health changes, Music Maker steps in, providing folks with needed financial and material support. While Medicare and Medicaid will cover hospital and doctors bills, there are other expenses associated with illness and declining health that are not covered by these programs.

Some of our recent grants include sending regular incontinence supplies to an artist coping with Alzheimer’s, covering medical bills for emergency procedures, and ordering groceries for artists as they recover after major operations.

Artistic Grants

Many of the artists we partner with are community-based musicians who rely on gigs and the support of their local music scene to have a monthly income. We often provide instruments to artists, but beyond that, we grant all artists CDs from MMF-produced records to enhance their gig income.

“It is beyond any scope I could ever imagine, I never thought it would be as great as it is. Music Maker pulled me out of a great hole I was in during the pandemic.”- Charles “Sugar Harp” Burroughs

The good news: You are making a difference.

100% of the artists who took our survey rated Music Maker’s monthly stipends and emergency grants as extremely important to their financial wellbeing. 89% said they were extremely or somewhat comfortable reaching out to Music Maker for help, and 94% said their relationships with Music Maker staff were extremely important to hem.

Your support means a great deal to our artists and makes an enormous difference to their lives. Please consider joining our Listener’s Circle or starting a recurring donation of $25/month. Together, we can keep the music playing – today and for generations to come.