Grimes Deals with a Rough Customer


Vancouver raised alternative songstress Grimes, alias of Claire Boucher, has signed a deal with Rough Customer, a new publishing joint venture between Sony/ATV and Jack Antonoff. Jack is best known as lead guitarist of U.S. band Fun. Sony/ATV is the largest music publishing company in the world, co-owned by Sony and Michael Jackson’s estate. The new venture was launched in late 2015, and Grimes is its first signee. The agreement includes songs from Claire’s album Art Angels which, despite praises from the critics, has sold a modest 50,000 copies in the United States (the gold certification level is ten times the amount at 500,000).

Music publishing is all about ensuring songwriters receive payment when their compositions are used commercially. The recording artist “assigns” the copyright of their songs to the publishing company which in return licenses them, monitors where they are used, collects royalties and distributes them to the composers. The companies also promote these compositions and oversee their being used, for example, in film and television soundtrack, video games, commercials, etc.

As reported by Billboard, Antonoff wants to create an “organic group of folks that write together and collaborate on their own projects or others.” Jack says, “It really couldn’t be more special to start things with Claire. She’s one of my all-time favourite artists and a wonderful person. Her work matters on the highest level, and I feel deeply proud to know her, have worked with her and now be involved here as well.”

This is good news for Grimes who expressed grievance on social media after her critically acclaimed album Art Angels failed to attract a JUNO nomination in a year heavily tipped towards males. One writer pointed out that her album was released just one week before the eligibility cut-off date in the Best Pop Album field, meaning that only one week of sales was considered in the category where nominees are determined both by judges’ voting and consumption. However, he neglected to mention that Hedley’s album was released the same day as Grimes’ and that Justin Bieber’s came out the last day of the eligibility period. Grimes’ previous album Visions won the JUNO for Electronic Album of the Year.

We absolutely want to see Canadian women do well, and hopefully the new deal will hoist Grimes’ music up from the underground.