Music Industry

Grimes (whose baby daddy is one of the richest men in the world) finds herself in artist funding controversy. Let’s sort this out.

Twitter has a problem with Grimes today. The Polaris-prize nominated electro-indie artist originally from Montreal is signed to an indie label called Crystal Math Music, which is based in Quebec. Back in March, the label was granted $90,000 by FACTOR, the Canadian organization that assists the development and promotion of Canadian artists of all levels with a focus on making sure there’s a chance of the artist experiencing at least some commercial success.

You write an application which then goes before a jury (full disclosure: I regularly serve on some FACTOR juries), and if the applicant is declared worthy, they’re given the money. In this case, Crystal Math wrote the application and got the cash.

Twitter’s problem is that Grimes’ baby daddy is Elon Musk, one of the richest people in the world (net worth: US$91 billion). Her own net worth is around US$3 million. And she lives full-time in California these days. You can see why Twitter is upset. It got fired up by this article at MTL Blog.

A couple of things that require emphasis and clarification:

  • The money is going to the label, not Grimes, in something called a Comprehensive Music Company grant. Crystal Math Music will use it to release records by Canadian artists on their roster. Those acts include Emily Haines, Half Moon Run, and Metric.
  • Will any of that money go to any Grimes records? Possibly, but it wouldn’t be a smart business move. That money would be better used to nurture those other acts currently on the label and prospective signings. Besides, Elon is a music nut himself. Think they don’t have a state-of-the-art recording studio at their place in Pasadena?
  • Crystal Math is a small organization of 14 people with revenues of maybe $3 million. A $90,000 grant is a big deal.
  • FACTOR doesn’t require Canadian artists actually live in Canada. They just have to maintain their citizenship.
  • No one broke any rules or even set any precedent here. Established labels and artists have been working with FACTOR for decades in exactly this same way. This pool of money is available to eligible Canadian musicians of all stripes and of all levels.
  • The MTL Blog points out that Kaytranada got $20,000 himself. The headline saying that Grimes got $90K is completely misleading. Again, the money goes to the label.
  • I could be wrong about this, but I can’t find anything that shows Grimes has an ownership stake in the label. Could anyone clarify this?
  • And everyone should calm the f*** down. There’s plenty of FACTOR money to go around. Here’s a list of recent recipients.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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9 thoughts on “Grimes (whose baby daddy is one of the richest men in the world) finds herself in artist funding controversy. Let’s sort this out.

  • It says on the factor documents “applicant: crystal math music, artist: grimes” so doesn’t that mean that the label applied for that money *to spend on grimes*. They got 3 grants it seems 20k for a video and 90k and 75k for “comprehensive music company” but all have grimes listed as the artist that the label applied for it would seem

    • According to my source at Factor, it was the label.

      • Yes the label applied for the money *to spend on grimes* that’s why it says “applicant: crystal math music, artist: grimes”. If none of these money is going to be used on grimes in any capacity why is her name in the recipient docs 3 times??

        • Sal, calm the fuck down. Did you miss the part at the bottom where it said there was plenty to go around? Grimes isn’t some shady, greedy business dealer trying to fly under your radar and steal money from Men I Trust. Get over yourself, vigilante.

          • Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Has Grimes no shame? Also telling someone to “calm the f down” is very rude, unprofessional and defensive. Maybe you’re on her payroll?

    • So who is the ‘applicant’? Grimes or the record company? I hope they drank lots of water after jumping through FACTOR’s loopholes.

  • I appreciate the clarification, I feel like we all take information and run with it these days when we pass it on its always distorted.. 2020 is the ultimate game of telephone. If it is as you explained then there is not a damn thing wrong with it. Of course I am not there and do not know all the details, but from what I’ve read so far it sounds as if the Crystal Math Music was the one granted the money, and good for them. They have plenty of other artists who do need the money.

  • Looking into this, the grants are “Comprehensive Music Company” applications (plus a video one) with Grimes as the stated artist. Based on my reading of that grant (Full writeup here it not only has to be used for Grimes if she’s the artist named, it has to be used for a specific album by Grimes that they discussed with FACTOR when they made the application.

  • Pingback: FACTOR sets the record straight on the whole Grimes-got-a-grant controversy - Alan Cross' A Journal of Musical Things

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