eChievement Award Spotlight – Bill Bennett of Sweet Relief Musicians Fund

Sweet Relief Musicians Fund provides financial assistance to all types of career musicians and music industry workers who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems.

In 1994 Sweet Relief Musicians Fund was incorporated as a 501C3 nonprofit charity and has since been offering vital assistance to professional musical artists in need. Many prominent musicians, professionals and music fans have contributed enthusiastically to Sweet Relief. Benefits have been performed in venues from Miami to Seattle, with performances donated by many established and emerging artists. Nightclubs, concert halls, radio stations, internet sites, restaurants, clothing and shoe companies, music retailers, athletes, actors, corporations, foundations and music fans have all participated with Sweet Relief to assist struggling musicians.

Music has made all our lives, and the events in our lives special and memorable. While few find fame and fortune, most musicians remain in the field for their love and passion of music. The choice an individual makes to be a professional musician is one of sacrifice. The average income across the various employment options while accounting for the part-time nature of most opportunities is less than $25,000 annually. Over 65% of professional musicians do not have health insurance. Since the mid 1960s (Post Beatles) the number of individuals choosing music as a career grew exponentially. Before this time most professionals were either orchestra and classical players or jazz and blues artists. The explosion of pop, rock and country career musicians over a 20-year period in the U.S. represented an artistic and cultural revolution.

While the financial hardship a musician faces when dealing with illness or disability may be a constant, we now face a burgeoning elder population of artists with little or no resources available for such emergency situations.