Millionaire Artists Received $200 Million In Federal Grants From Small Business Administration

According to a shocking Insider report, a handful of millionaire artists have received upwards of $200 million in pandemic relief through the Small Business Administration’s “Save Our Stages” grants. The August 11 report cited names like Post Malone, Chris Brown, Nickelback, Lil Wayne, and others. 

The Save Our Stages campaign was started back in the throes of the pandemic, and its goal was to support independent music venues that were financially hit the hardest by the virus. Congress decided in December 2020 that the Small Business Administration would have $16 billion in grant money to distribute. Although it took six months to begin the process of handing out grants, once the Save Our Stages initiative got off the ground, smaller venue owners and artists were granted, at most, $100,000 in relief money.

The difference in payouts between initial vendors and, more recently, significant artists has people disappointed. The Insider report disclosed that although many of the millionaire artists previously owned or still own businesses that qualify for the small business grants under the policies, their payouts were significantly larger than many others. Chris Brown allegedly was paid $10 million, Lil Wayne was granted $9.8 million, Canadian band Nickelback received $2 million, and Common was paid nearly $3 million.  

A Los Angeles law firm submitted grants for 97 different artists, managers, and venues, totaling more than $250 million in payouts; of that, $200 million went towards big-name millionaire artists. An SBA Inspector General suggested that “8% and a third of loans given out during that period” could have been fraudulent. 

Sources within the industry said, “Insider defended the [grant allocation] by pointing out that many artists typically contract with hundreds of sound and lighting technicians, costumers, drivers, security personnel, and other contractors when they put together a tour. All those contractors were out of work during the lockdowns, the sources said, and artists applying for grants could have used the money to help keep them afloat. But there was no requirement that they spend the money that way.”

Still, the sheer difference in awards has had social media users questioning the fairness of the Save Our Stages process.