How to Be a Boss (According to Grimes)

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Grimes is a boss, both in the literal and figurative sense. She oversees many creative ventures, including Grimes Creative Corp, Fairy Tour Corp, and Roco-Prime Productions.

Grimes penned a list of tips on how to be a boss for Rookie Mag’s Rookie Yearbook Three. Elle posted an exclusive online excerpt of this list, which has been circulating the internet. Some of Grimes’ tips are incredibly relevant…


1. You will never hear more people tell you that you’re wrong than when you’re succeeding.

After my album Visions came out, I spent a really long time freaking out because people were telling me that in order to take “the next step” in my career, I would have to become a much better “musician,” that I’d need a backing band, etc. I now realize that (a) none of those people have music careers, and (b) I wasted a lot of time trying to do things I was told were “important for every professional musician” to do, without realizing that as a fan, I am far more interested in things that I’ve never seen before. The point is, listening to haters is pointless. People are judgmental about everything—often because they feel threatened. Ignore them. I think this applies to any business or creative thing, because tomorrow’s world will not look like today’s. Doing something different is probably better than doing the same things that other people do.

2. Hold on to your work.

Once upon a time, Elvis Presley wanted to record a cover of Dolly Parton’s song “I Will Always Love You,” but on the condition that she sign over half of the publishing royalties—money the songwriter gets whenever someone plays or performs their song in public—to him. Dolly said no, and many years later Whitney Houston sang “I Will Always Love You” in a movie, and it became probably one of the most memorable (and lucrative) songs of all time. So it’s very important to maintain ownership of your intellectual property. Copyright everything. DO NOT FORGET TO DO THIS. There are so many ways you can get screwed if you don’t copyright your work. Conversely, treat your collaborators with respect and give credit where it is due.

3. Be nice to the people you work with.

It is of utmost importance to treat people with kindness, because you want them to work hard and care about the thing you are building together. However, in order to get things done, sometimes you need to be mean. I’m really bad at this, but you absolutely need to let people know when something is unacceptable, or they’ll keep doing it and you’ll resent them and it creates bad vibes.

4. Just because someone has more qualifications than you doesn’t mean they’re better than you.

We live in the age of technology, so you can Google anything you don’t know how to do. The only thing you can’t Google is how to be creative and unique. Your thoughts have more value than a degree or a parent in the same field or whatever. I always think about my grandfather, who became an engineer with only a seventh grade education. It’s a very cliché thing to say, but nearly anything is possible if you set your mind to it.

5. Really, the most important thing is eliminating self-doubt.

This is basically impossible for me, but I’ve found that if I act like a boss, I can convince myself that I am a boss when I need to be one. I copy things that I’ve seen politicians and actors do; I make eye contact with people; I try to keep my shoulders back and my head high; I gesticulate wildly and sometimes take long pauses (silence can be very intimidating). I try to act like I’m powerful, onstage and off. I am often treated with disrespect, but I respond as respectfully as I can, because it makes trolls look stupid when you don’t stumble. As time has gone by, I’ve noticed that the crappy people have been phasing out and I’m surrounded more and more by people I trust, and with whom I share mutual respect—which, by the way, breeds real confidence.



5 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    She’s done good for herself and what she says certainly applies to her.

    I do want to touch on one point. No one hardly respects Copyright anymore anyways, but the thing she fails to understand is that Copyright is created as soon as you create something. So as soon as you create your song it has copyright. To pay an agency to certify something amidst many other publicly dated evidence trails is a little bit of redundancy. I mean to be able to register 2000 works for $50 (in MY jurisdiction), the rate says it all. That doesnt mean you shouldn’t bother, just that its important to understand exactly what someone is paying for.

    The bigger most important thing is to ensure you protect your property ESPECIALLY with the internet and how ridiculously easy it is to just pillage digital property.

    A good computer forensic analyst should be able to root around the session file, computers and digital backups to find a good date of creation or if someone you are in court with has possibly doctored theirs, enough so that it would likely trump the registered copyright anyways.

    A statement like this>

    A poem, painting, musical score, performer’s performance and a computer program are all valuable creations worth protecting.

    Although copyright in a work exists automatically when an original work is created, a certificate of registration is evidence that your creation is protected by copyright and that you, the person registered, are the owner. It can be used in court as evidence of ownership.


    A certificate of registration is evidence that your creation is protected by copyright???

    Excuse me?

    I thought the previous line stated that copyright exists automatically when an original work is created?

    If your works are registered with your PRO, you keep a spreadsheet, own all the masters and session files which show a progression of works from first instrumentals to final masters, own a publishing company that you sign all the rights over to, release publicly and upload to your own website and servers, surely once submitted as evidence into court that should be all the validity needed, if its a fair unbiased non corrupt trial/case. Not to mention if you have access to plenty of inadmissible evidence that depending on the suitor may cause them the desire to settle out of court in exchange for that evidence be expunged and held under NDA’s, then you are as golden as you can be.

    Are what they really saying is that unless you pay them to certify it it wont stand up in a court of law? That sounds more like what they like to do. But we know that’s not how evidence works.

    Im not certain i want to ship an agency any more money that so far doesnt seem to be doing much in the way of upholding copyright or enforcing copyright. They are also drafting and passing lackluster acts that allow the legal sharing of property thus causing serious damage to the value of it. If you notice in their marketing blurb above it suggests that those things are valuable and worth protecting. I dont see them doing a good job of protecting anything other then their own interests. All of which leads me to believe that its more of a money grab then anything else.

    Again everyone must make their own conclusions based upon the information that exists.

    If anyone is interested in some further help or clarification please hit me up. thanks.
    Plum Minnow

  2. Spoken X Digital Media Group

    This is a very interesting article , Grimes , wrote. She has indeed lived her experience that she touch basis on. Here advice about the ownership of copyrights aside from all else is the core element to the position as a boss both inside and outside the music industry. Adding one other protocol to that bit of advice; the first working relationship to be had moving forward in the business of music is an aloof or cozy relationship with the principal attorney at entertainment law. . .–great job , Grimes !

  3. There is something...

    Nina, when you quote an artist in your post, you could at least link that artist homepage / Facebook. Nobody is supposed to know every artist talked about on DMN.

      • There is something....

        Sorry but I won’t call her “mainstream level”. Don’t forget we’re in a lazy world where people won’t even mind searching on Google anymore… Linking an artist can’t hurt.


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