Rough Customer, a publishing joint venture between Sony/ATV and Jack Antonoff launched late last year, has made its first signing, singer-songwriter Claire Boucher, better known as Grimes.
The worldwide agreement includes the songs on her fourth studio album, Art Angels, which has sold 50,000 units so far in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The deal is significant for more than being a first signing, according to Antonoff. “I wanted to start a publishing company to work with friends who are making important work,” Antonoff said in a statement. “It really couldn't be more special to start things with Claire. She's one of my all-time favorite 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.”
Antonoff said that when he started a publishing company it wasn’t his intention to sign songwriters, build up the company’s roster and catalog and then sell it in five years. “I wanted to create a space where I could collaborate with a group of friends, whose music I love and respect where they could be nurtured,” Antonoff tells Billboard. “I am creating a community with [songwriters] banding together to have the opportunity to support one another.”
Antonoff added that the signing of Grimes, who he has previously worked with via his band Bleachers on the Girls soundtrack song "Entropy," “is a clear statement of what [Rough Customer] is all about.”
Antonoff’s manager Tyler Childs says Antonoff is trying to create a “modern Laurel Canyon scene with a natural, organic group of folks that write together and collaborate on their own projects or others.” Childs adds that Rough Customer will service songwriters like a boutique publisher, but the joint venture with Sony/ATV gives the muscle of a major that can “over-deliver” for songwriters.
Sony/ATV already represents Antonoff’s interests for all his songwriters, including his work in Fun and Bleachers, as well as his outside co-writes.
“Since we have been publishing Jack in Fun and Bleachers, we have been talking about how to grow his business, his team and his artistry, and about six months ago we finalized this joint venture that gives him a way to do just that, as well as helping him to develop other writers and artists,” Sony/ATV’s senior vp of creative Jennifer Knoepfle tells Billboard.
“Grimes is a rare and special talent and we are so pleased that she has chosen Rough Customer and Sony/ATV as her publisher. An accomplished songwriter, producer and visual artist, she is truly a triple threat and a phenomenal addition to the Sony/ATV Rough Customer family.”