4AD’s Drama With Grimes And Torres Is A Reminder That Music Is A Business

Deputy Music Editor
04.18.18

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4AD is one of the most revered record labels of all time. Full stop. Established in 1980, the UK imprint’s first full length was the debut album from Bauhaus, and from there it’s been a tale of classics after classics for nearly 40 years. A short refresher of great releases from artists who are no longer on the label: Cocteau Twins’ Heaven Or Las Vegas, Pixies’ Doolittle, TV On The Radio’s Return To Cookie Mountain, Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago, St. Vincent’s Actor, and on and on. As a member of Beggars Group in the US, it ranks with Sub Pop, XL, Matador, and the Secretly labels at the top tier of the indie music world.

But lately, it seems like all we’ve been hearing about 4AD has been negative. And to make matters worse, it is coming from their own artists. It began back in February when a now-deleted post from Canadian electro-pop artist Grimes revealed her frustration. She would go on to refer to 4AD as her “sh*t label” and blame them for her having to delay the release of her highly anticipated follow-up to 2015’s Art Angels. She has made it clear that she’s already planning her album for after her three-record deal with 4AD concludes, and notably both unfollowed each other on Twitter.

Then yesterday, another 4AD artist used social media to voice displeasure with the label. This time it was Brooklyn-based songwriter Torres who took to Twitter to unceremoniously announce that she had been dropped by 4AD for “not being commercially successful enough.” In the same manner as Grimes, she hammered home the point that the music industry is terrible, while receiving an outpouring of sympathy from fans, and condemnation of the label that would dare part ways with her.

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