The Radio Starmaker Fund’s Orion Program For BIPOC Artists

The Radio Starmaker Fund

The Radio Starmaker Fund’s Orion Program For BIPOC Artists: Introduction

The Radio Starmaker Fund, founded in 2001, is a not-for-profit Canadian organization that provides marketing and promotional support to help launch the careers of emerging Canadian artists. While the organization’s main fund is aimed at artists ‘with a proven track record’, including in an effort to lower the barrier to entry, it has recently announced The Orion Program. In particular, Orion was created to distribute its funds to eligible artists who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour who have yet to meet the main Starmaker program’s sales criteria.

Orion is titled as a ‘stepping-stone’ program, created to support racialized artists as they build and develop their careers so that they may eventually be eligible for the main Starmaker program. Orion has also been dubbed as a ‘living program’ in that the program has been made to be flexible in order to adapt to changing circumstances to reflect collective learning, community feedback, and industry change.

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The funding applied for through Orion may be used for any music related expense, including recording, promotion, publicity, advertising, digital marketing, touring, videos, and other related ventures. The maximum amount of funding that may be applied for is $25,000, and applicants will only be considered for one of these grants once per calendar year. While explanation of the funding being applied for should be made within the application, extra materials such as Letters of Support are generally not required.


In order to be eligible for The Radio Starmaker Fund’s Orion Program, there are two main criteria:

  1. Applicants must identify as either Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Colour. If the applicant is a band, the majority of the band must identify as BIPO.
  2. The Applicant must show full-length or bundle sales of at least 1,500 units. A full-length release will contain at least 6 unique studio recordings and at least 25 minutes of music. On the other hand, a bundle release contains at least 3 unique studio recordings and at least 9 minutes of music. These releases can be either physical, digital, or equivalent streams (example: YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music). For the unit sales threshold, 750 single track streams or 5 downloaded tracks from a full-length release or bundle will constitute one sales unit. As well, multiple releases from the previous 5 years leading up to the deadline for the round can be combined for eligibility purposes. Therefore, if you have 3 songs with collectively 1,125,000 streams (or 7,500 downloads or a combination of streams and downloads) within the 5 years leading to the program deadline you have met the sales threshold.
  3. Lastly, a JUNO or Grammy nomination, or Polaris prize shortlisting, for a release from the last 5 years will qualify you as an applicant for the program. Further description of these qualifications can be found online.

Applicants without previous approval for the Orion Program or those that had their eligibility lapse must show their current eligibility via Michelle Farres (the current Manager of Finance & Administration at the organization) at least one week in advance of the deadline.

Application Process:

The entirety of the application process can be completed online through the ‘Getting Started’ portal of the Starmaker website. As well, sample applications can be found on the website, which take you through the full application process.

Once the initial application has been completed, the applicant will be redirected to a page where the Orion Program may be selected. If selected, a one-page business plan/proposal is required to be completed. Here, attachments to the proposal may be made, including explanation of eligibility, breakdowns of expenditures, and other key information in support of an application. Any details on both domestic and international activity as well as ‘industry momentum’ should also be given in support of the application and proposal.

Operability With The Starmaker Fund:

It is important to note that the Orion Program has been created as an alternate avenue to the core of the Radio Starmaker Fund. However, those who are (or have become) eligible for the Radio Starmaker Fund may still apply for funding through Orion. As well, all general rules that exist for Starmaker – which can be found in detail online – also apply for the Orion Program.

The Radio Starmaker Fund’s Orion Program For BIPOC Artists: Conclusion

Starmaker’s new Orion Program is an exciting new opportunity that all eligible BIPOC artists should take advantage of and apply for, if they meet the sales thresholds. For further information we recommend you visit Starmaker or get in touch with an entertainment lawyer or a grant consultant/writer.

Upcoming Deadlines:

Thursday, August 19, 2021 (5:00 PM EDT)

February 10, 2022 (time TBD)

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Author: Michael Duboff, Entertainment Lawyer

Edwards Creative Law is Canada’s Entertainment Law Boutique™, providing legal services to Canadians, and international clients who partner with Canadians, in the Music, Film & Television, Animation, Interactive Digital Media, Game, Publishing and Software industries. For more information and additional blogs, please visit

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