Program Description PlugIn

Date: 17.06.2024

The non-profit project company Initiative Musik gGmbH (hereinafter referred to as “Initiative Musik”) grants one-time non-repayable funding in the form of project support for live music venues according to the terms of this program description.


Live music venues are an indispensable part of Germany’s diverse music scenes. From established (scene) clubs to concert halls, they ensure local musical provision in metropolises, cities, and rural areas. Music venues serve as platforms for artistic experiments, fostering talent, and setting trends. They provide a stage where (emerging) artists can try out and present themselves to an audience. Live music venues form an essential infrastructure for the activity and artistic development of musicians. Besides their importance for the cultural participation of different population groups, they promote social exchange. As meeting places for live music, they fulfill a significant cultural and social function. This is reflected in the results of the nationwide club study on the situation of music venues (2021).

During the COVID-19 pandemic, music clubs made some technical investments through the funding programs of the NEUSTART KULTUR rescue package – however, these primarily focused on offering a pandemic-compliant music program (such as online streaming or open-air events). This situation was exacerbated by the cost increase of performance technology, which after the pandemic is almost three times the general inflation rate. Five years after the last technical investment programs by Initiative Musik (Digi-Invest; 2016, 2018, 2019) and TE-SA (2017, 2019), smaller and medium-sized music clubs, due to lower profit margins and the slow return of the audience, are still unable to cover their investment needs from their own financial resources (> Club Study Report, page 56).

“PlugIn” addresses this fact and supports smaller to medium-sized live music venues in modernizing and improving their concert performance technology. Additionally, the funding aims to promote the resource-efficient use and sustainable acquisition of technical equipment. Therefore, this program supports both the purchase of used items and the repair of already existing technical equipment and musical instruments. Functional, contemporary, and sustainable technical equipment is crucial to ensuring the competitiveness of live music venues nationally and internationally. It also plays a central role in effectively supporting musicians, especially emerging musicians, in their artistic development and in ensuring culturally diverse and accessible live music programs.


Funding is granted according to the terms of this program description, §§ 23 and 44 of the Federal Budget Code (BHO), and the administrative regulations issued in relation to them (VVBHO) within the available budgetary funds. They are provided by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media. The basis for this is a resolution of the German Bundestag.

The general funding conditions of Initiative Musik in the version of 01.07.2022 apply.


2.1. Eligible applicants are natural persons, legal entities, or partnerships based in Germany. These include

  • Operators of live music venues with a maximum visitor capacity of 2,000 standing places.
  • That are permanent and fixed in location.
  • That have been operating the music venue for at least 12 months.
  • That use the venue predominantly for live music events.

Live music events in this sense are curated performances by musicians (including events with artistic DJs) generally on a stage in front of an audience. These concerts are specifically advertised. The audience comes for the musical performance. One or more artists or bands perform 100% live (see Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ, in German – for more information about our definition of live music events);

  • Venues must have hosted at least
    • 12 (in rural areas with up to 20,000 inhabitants),
    • 18 (in small and independent cities, 20,001 to 50,000 inhabitants)
    • 24 (in cities with over 50,001 inhabitants)

live music events by various artists on different days in the year 2023.

  • The operators must have taken main content and financial responsibility for at least half of these live music events.
  • They must ensure proper business management and be able to demonstrate the appropriate use of the funding.

2.2. Legal entities under public law, as well as legal entities and partnerships majority-owned by legal entities under public law, are not eligible to apply.

2.3. Operators who received 40% or more of their basic operational funding from public funds in the reference year 2023 are not eligible to apply (further information in the FAQs in German).

2.4. Temporary structures (e.g., tents/mobile stages) and open-air stages, conference, and event centers/halls, recording studios, and community halls are not eligible for this program.

2.5. Music venues that circulate unconstitutional, illegal, or criminal content and emphasize violent or harmful to youth programming are excluded from funding.

2.6. As a funding platform advocating for equality, diversity, and cultural participation in music (see general funding conditions), Initiative Musik reserves the right to question the funding eligibility of music venues that promote or provide a stage for inhumane content, ideologies of inequality, racism, or anti-Semitism and to withdraw the funding commitment.

2.7. A maximum of one application can be submitted per music club/license or company/person for the “PlugIn” program.


3.1. Both new and used acquisitions and installations of performance-related elements aimed at improving the acoustic and visual concert performance situation in a live music venue are eligible for funding. Performance-related elements are defined as all technical elements used on or near the stage during a live music event or whose use is essential for the execution of a live music event.

3.2. Fundable measures must fall into one of the following three areas:

a) Sound Technology

  • Speaker technology:
    • Speaker systems,
    • In-ear monitoring systems,
    • Effect devices, signal processors, digital mixing consoles.
  • Peripheral digital equipment:
    • Digital speaker systems,
    • Digital amplifiers
  • Main mixing consoles FOH (Front of House)
  • Monitor consoles
  • Stage boxes & digital multicore cables
  • DJ setups
  • Amplifiers (such as guitar and bass amplifiers) and power amps
  • Microphones and accessories (cables, stands, and cases)
  • Musical instruments counted towards backline (i.e., guitars, basses, drum sets, keyboards, grand pianos, etc.). Music editing software and corresponding devices are excluded.

b) Visual Performance Technology

  • Digital lighting consoles
  • Spotlights
  • Projectors
  • Projection surfaces/screens and active screens
  • Control systems
  • Output systems (e.g., graphics cards for computers)
  • Video streaming (cameras, digital infrastructure)
  • Dimmers, fog machines, and strobes
  • Cabling

c) Stage Technology

  • (Mobile) trusses and stage elements, along with necessary mounting materials and the truss motors needed for individual alignment.

3.3. Personnel expenses for the technical realization and organizational implementation of acquisitions can be claimed proportionally. Their share should not generally exceed 20% of the total expenses. General personnel expenses of the live music venue for planning, advertising, and evaluation are excluded from funding.

3.4. External services directly related to the technical realization (e.g., renovation work) can also be claimed proportionally. Their share should not generally exceed 20% of the total expenses.

3.5. Refurbished as well as used technical equipment and musical instruments are eligible for funding under this program. The purchase of used or refurbished items must be made from specialized trades and evidenced by a proper invoice.

Funded used or refurbished devices must not have been used for more than half of their standard useful life (depending on the device family, see FAQ in German) at the time of purchase. The date of the initial acquisition will be used as the reference point and must be verifiable by the original purchase receipt.

Analog and digital musical instruments are exempt from these regulations. Similarly, technical devices may be exempted from these regulations in justified exceptional cases.

3.6. Repair measures for performance technology and musical instruments can be funded if the repair costs do not exceed 50% of the acquisition price of the item to be repaired and the repair costs are not or no longer covered by a manufacturer’s warranty or insurance. In justified exceptional cases, the repair costs may exceed the aforementioned value. Repair measures must be carried out by specialist workshops and evidenced by a proper invoice.

3.7. For all planned acquisitions and repair measures, cost-effectiveness and efficiency must be demonstrated in the form of quotes or price comparisons (see FAQs in German for more information).


4.1. The funds are granted as a non-repayable subsidy within the framework of project funding as fixed-amount financing. For the possible revocation and recovery of the granted funding, §§ 48 to 49a of the Administrative Procedure Act (VwVfG) apply analogously. The corresponding regulations will be incorporated into the grant agreements to be concluded.

4.2. The funding share is degressive and dependent on the total expenditures. As the total expenditures increase, the funding share decreases.

  • The project expenditures must amount to at least 1,000 EUR – in this case, the maximum possible funding share is up to 90 percent of the eligible total expenditures. The required own contribution is at least 10 percent, i.e., 100 EUR.
  • From project expenditures amounting to 30,000 EUR, the maximum possible funding amount of 15,000 EUR is reached – in this case, the maximum possible funding share is therefore 50 percent of the eligible total expenditures. The required own contribution is at least 50 percent.
  • The upper limit of the maximum possible funding amount is always 15,000 EUR.

5.1. There is no entitlement to funding.

5.2. Inventory Obligation: Grant recipients are required to inventory items whose acquisition or production value exceeds 800 EUR (excluding VAT) (see general supplementary conditions for project funding (ANBest-P)). If, for special reasons, the federal government is or becomes the owner, the items must be specially marked in the inventory.

5.3. The funded concert performance and stage technology are subject to a purpose-binding period from the day of acquisition, depending on the type of device and its standard useful life (see FAQ, In German). In the case of used devices, the respective binding period is halved.

If the funded technology is sold before the expiration of the applicable period or if the operation of the venue equipped with this technology is discontinued, this must be reported, and the grant must be repaid proportionately to Initiative Musik gGmbH. The amount of the repayment will take into account the sales proceeds and the duration of appropriate use.

5.4. Double funding by the federal government is excluded. State or municipal funding can be used complementarily to cover the own contribution.

5.5. Only measures that are compatible with EU state aid law in the sense of Article 107 TFEU will be funded. This program is considered aid for culture under Art. 53 No. 2 lit. d GBER in the sense of Art. 107(3) TFEU, compatible with the internal market and exempt from the notification requirement under Article 108(3) TFEU, provided that the relevant GBER regulations are observed. A company that has not complied with a recovery order following a previous Commission decision declaring aid granted by the same Member State illegal and incompatible with the internal market shall not be granted funding under this directive.

5.6. The Federal Court of Auditors is authorized to audit in accordance with §§ 91, 100 BHO.


6.1. Grants are awarded upon application.

6.2. The grant application is completed and submitted online. If online application poses a barrier for individual applicants, an application can be submitted by mail after consultation. The required documents specified in the application form must be uploaded with the application. The necessary application documents and procedural rules for application submission are described in detail in the FAQs (in German), which serve to clarify this program description.

6.3. The online application process runs from June 17, 2024, 1:00 PM to July 12, 2024, 6:00 PM.

6.4. Only complete and formally correct applications will be considered. The applications will be reviewed for accuracy and completeness in the order they are received (based on the submission date) and decided upon taking into account the regional quota (see FAQs, in German). If necessary, incorrect documents will be requested. Applications are only considered formally submitted once all supporting documents are available for review. If the application is successfully reviewed, a grant approval can be issued, provided that the fund allocation for the region is not yet exhausted: The funds are distributed according to a regional quota among the various federal states to ensure that structurally weaker regions are not disadvantaged in the process.

6.5. Applications that are submitted on time, complete, and formally correct, and successfully reviewed but for which the fund allocation in the respective federal state is already exhausted, will be placed on a waiting list. After the application period expires, remaining funds can be allocated to applicants on the waiting list (in order of their application submission).

6.6. The grant approval is only legally valid upon the conclusion of a grant agreement between the applicant and Initiative Musik. The project period starts with the conclusion of the grant agreement and ends no later than December 31, 2024. No grants will be awarded for activities that take place outside the specified project period. However, the funding application can be accompanied by a request for a funding-neutral early start of measures. The requested date for the funding-neutral early start of measures may be no earlier than the date of application (further information can be found in the FAQs, in German).

6.7. Upon conclusion of the grant agreement, it is possible to draw funds for the funded project. Initiative Musik retains at least 10% of the approved funding amount until the successful review of the proof of use (Further information on drawing funds can be found in the FAQs).

6.8. Funds must always be spent within six weeks of drawing.

6.9. The proof of use must be submitted two months after the end of the project, but no later than February 28, 2025. If the proof of use is not submitted on time or is incomplete, the grant approval will be withdrawn. Thus, the entire grant will be forfeited, and repayments may be required.

6.10. Only after the successful review of the proof of use will the 10% retention of the grant be paid out, and the grant project will be considered completed.


The conditions described herein for the funding program come into effect on the day of their publication and are valid until December 31, 2025.

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