Consideration for a grant from Black Fret is by invitation only. There is no unsolicited application process. Black Fret guides our members through an annual three step voting process to select artists to receive grants. The Three phases are Nominations, Selection and Awards. Through the process a long list of great local musicians is shortlisted to a select group of Nominees who perform throughout the year’s Listening Season before voting to receive a grant and becoming a Black Fret Artist.
(1) Nominations: Black Fret’s Nomination Season runs from January to March. During this period the below list of folks have the opportunity to bring forward a long list of local musicians for “consideration”. Bands submitted for consideration are stack ranked based on the number of their nominations and public playlists are assembled of the top one hundred or so. After folks have had a few weeks to review and discuss with one another a vote is taken to identify a short list of Nominees for the year. For our 2017 season, twenty artists are invited to accept a nomination and become Black Fret Nominees. Nominees are selected from four distinct groups:
(a) Austin Music Awards: The winner and runner up in the category of Best New Band serve to represent the voice of the public in selecting two Nominees.
(b) Black Fret Members: Members will nominate, review and select ten Nominees.
(c) Black Fret Mentors: Black Fret’s Advisory Board members are a panel of music industry veterans that may volunteer to serve as mentors to Black Fret Artists. Mentors will nominate, review and select four Nominees.
(d) Black Fret Artists: Artists who won a Black Fret major grant in the immediately prior year may bring forward two Nominees for the current year.
Eligible Artists are bands or individual musicians that (1) have at least 50% of band members claiming their primary residence on their personal tax returns as being within 50 miles of Austin, (2) would qualify as a Small Business according to the US Small Business Administration standards for Musical Groups and Artists, and (3) are not immediate family members of the Black Fret Board of Directors.
(2) Selection: Black Fret’s Listening Season runs from April to November. During this period each Nominees is invited to perform at a Listening Session for our members and advisors. Our members and advisors are an educated group of music fans who have committed resources and sustained interest in Austin music over an extended period of time to learn about our local musicians. At the end of the Listening Period, members and advisors are invited to review, share and lobby for their favorite Nominees before voting to select this year’s Black Fret Artists.
(3) Awards: The Black Ball occurs in December. The final list of Artists is approved by the Board of Directors. The Board does not select the Artists. The Board only validates that the process has worked fairly and has resulted in committed Artists who can well represent Black Fret and the City of Austin. Grant amounts are announced at the Black Ball and Artists then become eligible to receive their grant funds over the course of the following calendar year though the Black Fret Artist Program.