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HomeFinanceMeet: Music Entrepreneur Anthony "Ant $" Martini

Meet: Music Entrepreneur Anthony “Ant $” Martini

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How does one earn the nickname “Ant Money”? Apparently from helping partners and clients make millions, time, and time again.

As an artist manager, he’s widely known for discovering and developing Tyga into a worldwide superstar, but even his lesser-known clients have quietly become millionaires. As founder and CEO of the independent record label Commission, he achieved a company valuation of $20 million, selling off a substantial equity stake in 2019. With music licensing company, Jingle Punks he helped affect significant investment from William Morris Endeavor, leading to a 9 figure acquisition from Anthem Media. He’s also a partner in Royalty Exchange, the disruptive financial platform that’s paid out artists over $77 million in 4 years.

The journey from gritty Elizabeth, NJ to the Billboard charts hasn’t been a straight shot off the Turnpike. As a highly recruited athlete, Martini thought his way out would be sports. But when an injury erased his scholarship offers, he shifted his focus to music. Though he never hit the “big time,” being a self-managed struggling artist taught him the skills he’d later use to guide others to success. Needing a job, he took a minimum-wage gig at a local music distributor where he’d walk the dusty warehouse plucking CDs from bins and packing and shipping boxes to stores. Here, he formulated a plan to start his own record label. Where some might see a dead-end job, Martini was able to absorb sales & marketing techniques. He’d take home old one-sheets and label marketing pamphlets to use as templates for his own releases. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts at breaking local acts, Martini realized there was more to learn. Undeterred, he found an opening at an indie label, which was starting a management arm.

In his first “real” industry position, Martini worked with extreme metal acts like Lamb Of God, Unearth & Terror. His foot was in the door, but he aspired to showcase his skills in a more mainstream genre. When the opportunity to take a position at Crush Management, whose powerhouse roster read like the Billboard charts (Sia, Fall Out Boy, Green Day), he jumped at it.

During this time, Martini discovered a then 16-year-old rapper from LA named Tyga. He developed the young artist and helped orchestrate an improbable run of tens of millions of records sold, chart-topping hits, movie roles as well as creating and executive producing the TV show “Kingin” that ran multiple seasons on MTV.

But it was in 2015 after Ant Money met an unknown rapper who called himself “Lil Dicky” when he made a baffling pivot. Tired of seeing major label politics and corporate red tape ruin artist’s livelihood, Martini realized the only way to find a better record label was to create one himself. In a move that many at the time said was crazy, Martini cleared out his life savings to form Commission Records.

Dicky’s debut single “Save Dat Money” was a massive success, skyrocketing into the top ten on urban radio as his album “Professional Rapper” landed at the top of multiple charts. Martini now had a legit record company with momentum setting the tone for rapid growth to come. More signings and a slew of platinum records would follow. A few short years after its formation, Commission Records ranked in the top 10 of urban market share, ahead of heavy hitters like Jay-Z’s Rocnation, Lyor Cohen’s 300 Ent & LA Reid’s Hitco. “Ant Money” had arrived, and the industry had taken notice. Last year, Martini was honored as a Billboard R&B/ Hip-Hop Power Player.

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