Program Description Live 500

As of November 2023

The non-profit project company Initiative Musik mbH (hereinafter referred to as “Initiative Musik”) grants non-repayable subsidies in accordance with these funding principles, §§ 23 and 44 of the Federal Budget Code, including the administrative regulations, §§ 48 and 49 VwVfG, and the general funding conditions of Initiative Musik as of July 1, 2022. These subsidies are provided as part of project funding for live music events.


Live music venues and events play an indispensable role in the diverse music scene in Germany. Situated between creative subculture, established (scene) clubs, and concert halls, they ensure local musical basic services in metropolises, cities, and rural areas. Music venues are places for artistic experiments; they discover talents and trends, providing spaces for (emerging) artists to test and present themselves to an audience. Thus, live music venues and event series form the necessary infrastructure for the activities and artistic development of music creators. In addition to their significance for cultural participation by broad population segments, live music venues simultaneously promote social exchange, serving as meeting places for live music with important cultural and social functions. This is reflected in the figures of the nationwide Club Study (2021).


In the current post-pandemic situation, many live music venues and organizers increasingly focus on established musicians. Concert formats featuring newcomers, less popular, or experimental genres are at risk of fading into the background. The newly launched Live 500 funding program aims to address this issue. It seeks to ensure the continuation of culturally diverse live music programs. Furthermore, it aims to support music venues and organizers in planning more diverse programs, enabling more cultural participation for underrepresented artists in live music. Finally, Live 500 also aims to strengthen rural and culturally structurally weaker regions.


For small to medium-sized venues and organizers, the program provides incentives for planning and implementing a diverse live music program, including newcomer concerts and experimental formats—involving previously underrepresented groups of musicians. The unique structure of the program supports both live music venues and organizers and the performing artists with a subsidy.


Grants are awarded in accordance with this program description, §§ 23 and 44 of the Federal Budget Code (BHO), and the related administrative regulations (VVBHO), within the framework of the available budgetary resources. They are provided by the Commissioner of the Federal Government for Culture and Media. The basis for this is a resolution of the German Bundestag.


2.1. Eligible applicants are natural persons, legal entities with legal capacity, or partnerships based in Germany that can ensure proper management and demonstrate the intended use of the funding.

2.2. Operators of live music venues with a capacity of

  1. a) a maximum of 500 unseated places (Category 1)


  1. b) 501 to a maximum of 1,000 unseated places (Category 2)
  • located in the Federal Republic of Germany;
  • fixed and locally bound;
  • have been operating the music venue for at least 12 months;
  • predominantly use it for live music events. Live music events, in this sense, are curated performances by musicians (including events with creative/artistic/self-producing DJs) generally on a stage in front of an audience. Specific promotion has been done for the concerts. The audience has come because of the musical performance;
  • in which at least 12 (in rural areas with up to 20,000 inhabitants), 18 (in urban districts with 20,001 to 50,000 inhabitants), or at least 24 (in cities with over 50,001 inhabitants) live music events by different artists can be proven in 2022. At least half of the proven live music events must demonstrably meet the criteria under 3.3;
  • who bear the main responsibility for the content and finances of these live music events.


2.3. Organizers (eligible only in Category 1):

  • who do not operate their own music club;
  • who are located in Germany;
  • who can demonstrate at least 12 live music events (definition see above) or a thematically closed series of events with at least 6 live music events in a period of at least 12 weeks in 2022. At least half of these concerts must demonstrably meet the criteria under 3.3;
  • whose respective events in the reference year do not exceed a maximum of 500 paying guests;
  • who bear the main responsibility for the content and finances of these live music events;
  • where all venues for the proven live music events were not more than 100 km apart.

2.4. Legal entities under public law, as well as legal entities and partnerships in which legal entities under public law are the majority shareholders, are not eligible to apply.

2.5. Operators of music venues or organizers who have received 40% or more in public funds for the basic financing of their business operations are not eligible to apply. The reference year for this is 2022. When calculating the funding ratio, benefits in equity, i.e., financial benefits granted for reasons of state care to offset or mitigate damages and disadvantages (including bridging aid), remain disregarded. (Further information on this can be found in the FAQs of Initiative Musik).

2.6. So-called temporary structures (e.g., tents/mobile stages) and open-air stages, conference and event centers/halls, recording studios, and community halls are not eligible to apply under this program.

2.7. Music venues or organizers that disseminate unconstitutional, illegal, or criminal content and focus on glorifying violence or endangering youth in their content planning are excluded from funding.

As a funding platform that advocates for equality, diversity, and cultural participation in music (see general funding conditions), Initiative Musik reserves the right to question the eligibility for funding and withdraw the funding commitment for organizers and music venues that spread dehumanizing content or ideologies of inequality.

2.8. For each music club/license or company/person, only one application can be submitted at most.


3.1. Supported are live music events that particularly highlight emerging musicians, lesser-known genres, and experimental formats. Organizers and operators of music venues who receive a funding commitment in this program can receive subsidies for up to 24 such concerts. Half of the subsidy goes to the respective performing band or act. A particular emphasis of the funding is on diverse program planning. Thus, musicians, especially those belonging to groups that have been structurally disadvantaged and underrepresented on live stages in the music industry, should benefit from the program.

All funded live music events must meet the criteria listed under 3.3. and take place within the project duration (starting from the conclusion of the funding agreement – until September 30, 2024).

Live music events, for the purposes of this program, are deliberate performances by musicians (including events with creative/artistic/self-producing DJs) generally on a stage in front of an audience. Specific promotion has been done for the concerts. The audience has come because of the musical performance (to the venue).

3.2. Categories

Category 1: 500 EUR subsidy per event (for a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 24 events) Eligible for support in Category 1 are only live music events whose maximum ticket price per person is 20 EUR gross.


Category 2: 1,000 EUR subsidy per event (for a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 12 events) Eligible for support in Category 2 are only live music events whose maximum ticket price per person is 25 EUR gross.

3.3. Funding Criteria

Live music events in both categories must meet the following criteria in addition to the maximum ticket prices mentioned under 3.2.:

  • A maximum of 250 paying guests per concert participate. Concerts with pay as you wish entry and free concerts targeting the general public can be submitted if all regulations under 3.2. are also fulfilled.
  • One or more artists or bands perform 100% live.
  • At least 50% of the repertoire performed is self-composed.
  • Artists or bands receive a fair fee/remuneration. The subsidy through the Live 500 program does not serve as the sole fee.
  • Live music events are reported to and settled with GEMA under tariff U-K. Live music events with artists or bands that are not GEMA members can be considered. However, the concerts must still be reported to GEMA.
  • Multiple performances on the same day at the same venue are considered one live music event.
  • Funded music venues or organizers cannot receive multiple subsidies for live music events with the same artists or bands.
  • Live music events take place in Germany.

3.4. Diversity in Program Planning

Diverse program planning must be demonstrated for the funded concerts: 30% of the performing artists voluntarily identify with one or more of the following underrepresented groups in the music industry: women, LGBTQIA* individuals, racialized individuals, persons with disabilities. Further information on the background and goals of this diversity quota is described in the FAQs of Initiative Musik.


The funding is granted as a non-repayable grant within the framework of project funding as a lump-sum financing. For the possible repeal and recovery of the granted funding, §§ 48 to 49a of the Administrative Procedure Act (VwVfG) apply analogously. The corresponding regulations are incorporated into the grant agreements to be concluded.

4.1. There is no entitlement to funding.

4.2. The funding commitment can be revoked if the proof of use is not submitted within 45 calendar days after the end of the project period.

4.3. No subsidies will be granted for live music events taking place outside the defined project period (from the conclusion of the funding agreement until September 30, 2024). However, the funding application can be combined with an application for a non-detrimental early start of measures. The requested date for the non-detrimental early start of the project must be no earlier than the day of the application.

4.4. Double funding by the federal government is excluded.

  1. Within the program

The same live music events may not be doubly funded through the Live 500 program (e.g., music club and organizers or organizer A and organizer B).

  1. In combination with other programs of Initiative Musik

Artist fees subsidized through the Live 500 program may not additionally be funded through another funding program of Initiative Musik (e.g., NEUSTART KULTUR or artist support).

4.5. Grants are provided as aid under Article 53(2) of Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of June 17, 2014, declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (“General Block Exemption Regulation” – GBER; Official Journal of the EU L 187 of June 26, 2014, p. 1), last amended by Regulation (EU) 2021/1237 of July 23, 2021 (Official Journal of the EU L 270 of July 29, 2021, p. 39). Applicants who have not complied with a recovery order due to a previous decision by the Commission declaring aid granted by the same Member State to be unlawful and incompatible with the internal market shall not be granted funding under this program description.

1.6. The Federal Court of Auditors is entitled to conduct audits in accordance with §§ 91, 100 of the Federal Budget Code.


The process for handling the funding, particularly the approval and disbursement of the mentioned grants, is the responsibility of Initiative Musik gGmbH.

5.1. Grants are provided upon request.

5.2. The grant application is filled out and submitted online. The application must include the documents specified in the application form (to be uploaded). The application process details are extensively explained in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), which serve to elucidate this program description.

5.3. The online application process runs from July 3rd to July 31st, 2023.

5.4. The application is submitted online and not by mail. If this poses a barrier for individual applicants, an application can be submitted by mail after consultation (see FAQ).

5.5. Only complete and formally correct applications will be considered. The applications will be reviewed for accuracy and completeness in chronological order (by submission date) and will be processed taking into account the regional quota (see FAQs). Any faulty documents will be requested. Applications are considered formally properly submitted only when all supporting documents are available for review. Once the application is successfully reviewed, a funding commitment can be issued if the funding quota for the region is not exhausted. The funds are distributed among different federal states based on a regional quota to avoid disadvantage for structurally weaker regions in the process.

5.6. Applications that are timely, complete, and formally correct, but for which the funds quota in the respective federal state is already exhausted, will be placed on a waiting list. After the application deadline, any remaining funds can be allocated to applicants on the waiting list (in order of their application).

5.7. The funding commitment becomes legally effective only with the conclusion of a funding agreement between the applicant and Initiative Musik.

5.8. After conducting at least three concerts, an interim settlement can be submitted to access project funds. It is also possible to settle all conducted concerts after the end of the project within the framework of the utilization report. Only concerts that demonstrably meet the specified criteria (under 3. Funding Object) and are fully documented will be subsidized. The required documents for settlement must be uploaded to the funding portal. Detailed information on evidence and documents is described in the FAQs of Initiative Musik.

5.9. The disbursement of the funding takes place only after the successful review of the respective settlements.

5.10. A utilization report must be submitted no later than 45 calendar days after the end of the project period, regardless of the number of interim settlements already made. In the context of the utilization report review, it will be determined whether the diversity quota of 30% specified under 3.4. has been achieved for the entire project. If this is not the case, in exceptional cases with a detailed examination of the project implementation, a self-declaration of the funded party may be accepted. The funding project is considered completed only after the successful review of the utilization report. In the event that the utilization report is not submitted on time or is incomplete, the funding commitment will be withdrawn. Thus, the entire funding expires, and repayments may become due.


The conditions of the funding program described here come into effect from the day of their publication and are valid until December 31, 2024.

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