The Artist Financial Program and the Plight of the Starving Artist
Originally this began as a review of just the Artist Financial Program (https://artistfinancialprogram.com) that I kept seeing ads for on instagram but it has ballooned into a full fledged research assignment because...I didn't know what a joint venture was AND I know nothing about real estate. It wasn't fair for me to review this program designed to help struggling musicians without figuring out how the program is meant to do so AND what are some alternatives.
So what is the Artist Financial Program? The short version is, you as an artist gain some financial backing from a joint venture in real estate. The long version is, it's not for "Any Artist" as implied and is a tad less joint than the average joint venture in business, so forgive me if this gets a little lengthy but I've been researching since December.
Let's start with Investopedia's definition of a joint venture since it was the simplest version I could find: A joint venture (JV) is a business arrangement in which two or more parties agree to pool their resources for the purpose of accomplishing a specific task. This task can be a new project or any other business activity. In a joint venture (JV), EACH of the participants is responsible for profits, losses and costs associated with it. However, the venture is its own entity, separate from the participants' other business interests.
The Artist Financial Program offers artists an opportunity to fund and develop their musical career by entering into a joint venture of real estate investment properties (provided you have a credit score of 700 or better). Together with a company called Kensington International (http://kensingtoninternational.co) The Artist Financial Program helps you to secure a loan to purchase a property they intend to flip and you get a small percentage of the loan upfront for your needs as an artist while collecting residual income later on once the property is flipped and sold or rented.
Why this is good way to fund artist pursuits:
Plenty of already successful performing artists purchase quite a bit of real estate for residual income and its almost the norm nowadays to see them having multiple streams of income outside of their craft. This type of business venture being extended to an indie artist before they become rich and famous may help them better adjust to the demands of the music business and the responsibility that comes with the sporadic income it brings.
Why it's not for everyone:
Everyone doesn't have a credit score of 700+ especially young and budding indie artists. If you DO have a credit score of 700+ you may not want to take out a 75-450k loan just to get 1-10% upfront towards your music career goals. Considering in this particular joint venture with the Artist Financial Program and Kensington International you don't appear to have a say in which properties they invest in, or in what percentage of your loan/line of credit gets invested into the property. You aren't involved in much of the process at all outside of securing finances for their properties with your credit score, not even in making the payments on your loan.
Some artists will be okay with allowing the two entities to take over the entire process that they'd typically be responsible for in a joint venture like this because they just want to get back to making music. That's understandable and so this set up might work but it isn't the way a joint venture typically works (Re-read the Investopedia definition).
Eyan Edwards is both the president of the AFP and Kensington International. Although he does have a background in music, how long he's been successfully flipping and selling real estate is unclear. I have not been able to find any stats on properties bought and sold; however, he does state on the Kensington website exactly what percentage of the final sale you can expect as the artist (30-50%). Eyan is trying create a way for artists to earn a residual income while pursuing music and in a way that alleviates the artist from having to do anything but sign some papers; a silent partner of an organization flipping houses. While any help to the indie artist is commendable, this is not a one size fits all solution as insta-advertised.
But do you even need that kind of capital? Just last summer The Balance posted an article on how musicians can secure funding (https://www.thebalancecareers.com/music-business-funding-2460733). It was more of a step by step list of things an artist should consider BEFORE selecting a way to finance.
For example: Determining your budget. If your current goals don't require the 10-45k you'd get in the AFP & Kensington Joint Venture, then good credit or not, it's not for you at the moment.
So what are some alternatives when you want to own property like Jay-Z but don't have the credit score to match?
If you're familiar with the stock market there is a site called Royalty Exchange (https://www.royaltyexchange.com) in which you'd sell a portion of your royalties like stocks. While I'm not a fan of giving up my royalties personally, last summer an RnB artist and producer named The Dream just sold 75% of his catalog to Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ltd. for about $23 million!
On the fence about that idea? SonicBids (http://blog.sonicbids.com) had a list of 5 grants they recommend for struggling artists and of course grants don't have to be paid back; They were: PBR Music Foundation Grant , The Leeway Foundation, Black Fret, BMI Foundation Peermusic Latin Scholarship, and BMI Foundation Nashville Songwriting Scholarship.
If you still rather have traditional business financing that you can pay back later the Musician's Friend (https://www.musiciansfriend.com/pages/financing) has several lending options for artists. I'm not certain what the credit score would have to be, but the amount financed is just for you the artist.
Finally, if you aren't interested in any of those routes and have a fanbase who are totally committed to your plight, you may want to consider Patreon. Even with only 100 fans committing to $2 a month, that's almost $2500/yr your making off of just giving them exclusive access to you and your content or feedback that only can be accessed when they connect with you on Patreon; a VIP experience, if you will.
Although most of these alternatives may not pay as much as real estate, they are some very good outlets to consider if financially you aren't where you need to be to participate in the real estate game. In fact, they may put you in position to do so at a later time. The bottom line is, at some point ALL artists wind up creating additional income outside of music and the sooner they learn how, the better off they will be positioned to create without going hungry.