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.