On August 10, 2017, Jehan V. Valiquet’s publishing company Groupe Éditorial Musinfo will turn 35. “I still remember that day,” he says. “I was at my lawyer’s, signing the papers that marked the creation of my company. I had already gotten in touch with a few artists. I was elated and excited…”
You have to see Valiquet’s eyes, as he discusses the start of his business like someone talks about their wedding day. And it truly was like a wedding, since music is nothing short of his passion. His home, which also houses his office, is filled to the brim with it. There are records everywhere: box sets from artists as varied as Véronique Samson, The Velvet Underground or The Rolling Stones; vinyl galore, proudly on display, including some by Harmonium and M; and of course, a turntable. All of which testifies to the fact that, in this place, music is cherished and vibrantly alive.
Right from the start, Jehan V. Valiquet considered the Francophone world, and especially France and Belgium, as his playground. He specialized in French and Belgian sub-publishing, and catalogue representation, for the Canadian territory. Throughout his journey as a publisher, bonds were established on both sides of the Atlantic. Of all his landmark meetings, the one that stands out, was the first and founding meeting with Nicolas Peyrac’s publisher – which launched him in the business.
But there were others, too. Over a period of ten years, Valiquet often ran into Gérard Davoust, Charles Aznavour’s publisher, and he expressed his interest in representing him in Canada, but was repeatedly turned down. “We’d gotten into the habit of meeting regularly, despite ten years of being told ‘no.’ Davoust was a mentor to me,” says Valiqut. “We were quite formal with each other, even though we’d go out for a meal once or twice a year. Then, one day, he begged me to stop being so formal. I couldn’t. Then, as we were walking out of the restaurant, he said, very matter-of-factly: ‘Oh, by the way.. I’m giving you Aznavour.’ I screamed, ‘YES!’ right there in the middle of the street. I was so elated!”
Word spread fast that Valiquet was good, and the fortuitous meetings would multiply as the years went on. In the 2000s, he obtained several other European catalogues for sub-publishing, including those of Carla Bruni, Mathieu Chedid and Vanessa Paradis.
“You can’t improvise being a publisher. It requires time, negotiation, management, and knowledge.”
Valiquet cherishes and nurtures those meetings as the DNA of Musinfo, and he still travels to Europe several times a year for them. ‘These publishers are now friends,” he says. “We keep each other up to speed on our accounts, but above all, we appreciate spending time together.” The same holds true in Québec, where Valiquet signed deals with bands such as Mountain Daisies, and manages several valuable catalogues, such as those of Michel Rivard and Beau Dommage, both of whom have owned their own rights since 1974.
With record sales dwindling, more and more artists are willing to embark on the self-publishing route, as is the case for M, Grand Corps Malade, Robert Charlebois and Claude Dubois. ‘There always were artists who retained the rights to their songs,” says Valiquet. “But there are way more nowadays. Yann Perreau, who was with me for 10 years, decided to start his own company when our deal ended. It’s possible. There are training classes offered by the Association des professionnels de l’édition musicale (APEM) and the Festival de la chanson de Granby. It’s a good thing. Artists have to wear many hats. But one needs to be careful. You can’t improvise being a publisher. It requires time, negotiation, management, and knowledge. It really is a trade. Hiring an administrator for your repertoire often is a good solution, because publishing adequately can quickly steal time away from creating music.”
Valiquet also really likes to set up meetings between music creators, especially between a composer and a lyricist. He truly believes in the power of such creative duos as Michel Bergé and Luc Plamondon. To Valiquet, initiating such meetings, sometimes even between one songwriter in France and one in Québec, allows a publisher to stay actively involved with the music creators they represent. Thus, via Musinfo, he connected French-from-France lyricist Sandrine Roy with Québec composer Sylvain Michel. “That duo now has more than 30 songs that charted on radio,” says Valiquet. “For them, it all began with Garou’s Que le temps. Now, Sandrine Roy, who still lives in France, is a member of SOCAN.”
On top of his solid experience and his love of music, with a capital L, what characterizes this top-tier publisher V. Valiquet’s honesty in his relationships. Typically, Valiquet is frank when it comes to the future of Groupe Éditorial Musinfo. He’s still quite active and intends to remain so as long as possible.
“I never think about retiring,” he says. “Maybe I should, but I just don’t feel like it.” Regardless, the man isn’t unaware that time goes by, and long-term engagements are increasingly uncertain. “Musinfo is built on my own personal relationships with publishers and artists who trust me,” he says. “And I know I’m not eternal. I don’t sign contracts that last as long as the copyright, 50 years. I don’t do that anymore. It brings no value to the company, and I don’t intend to sell it. It’s all about being honest with the people I work with. Artists also appreciate those limited terms. They know they’re not imprisoned in a deal.”