CuratedFlame continues to see growth in website traffic and its social media following. Due to this I am frequently seeing that people that are major movers and shakers in the industry are liking my posts about the content I am publishing. This happened recently when I saw that someone named realantmoney on instagram was liking some of my posts AND followed me. I didn’t know who this was, and when I clicked on their profile I was shocked to see that the person behind this profile is the owner of a major independent rap label.
A real nationally distributed, in fact world wide distributed, record label. I am not talking your local label owner, or the drug dealer, or athlete who are “label owners” only in title. I am talking about someone whose label last year came in as the #14 “urban” label in the country for terms of sales/streams. Very few people could call Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith (TDE), Birdman, or Slug (Rhymesayers) there peers, but Anthony Martini is one of the select few who can.
You see, unbeknownst to me, and I am sure a good amount of other people who read this site, Lil Dicky and Madeintyo, artists who had some of the biggest hits in the last two years, are signed to the same label, Commission Music. Which was founded and is ran by Anthony Martini aka @realantmoney. If you listen to rap music then there is no way you haven’t heard of those two artists, and now it looks like Madeintyo’s brother 24hrs is going to blow soon as well (already has a urban top 10 hit).
So I had to reach out to him and see if he would do an interview with this site, see if I could pick this label owners brain. And homie agreed so scroll down to find out more about who he is and the business we call the rap game.
How old are you? 37
Where are you from? Elizabeth, NJ
I see you were an artist manager before you started commission music with Doug Neumann. For anyone who doesn’t know, what does an artist manager exactly do?
Imagine the artist as a company…the artist is the owner of the company and the manager is like the CEO. You run the daily operations of the company, help craft the overall strategy and execute. You oversee the various team members (booking agents, lawyers, record label, publicist, business manager, etc) and make sure everyone is working according to the plan. But the most important part is the ability to create opportunities that keep the company growing and making money. Everyday you have to wake up and turn ideas into reality.
How did you get into artist management? I started out as an artist myself and learned the business from the inside out. I learned everything i could – from booking shows to making merch to understanding contracts. I used to sit up all night high speed dubbing cassettes to sell at shows. I’d be at kinkos making thousands of flyers that I’d go drop off all over the area. Whatever I could do in order to blow up. I learned it from the ground level. Being in the trenches gave me a different perspective when I switched to the business side.
My first management client was TYGA. I found him when he was 16 and we just started grinding. We were both hungry and wanted to make shit happen so he came to NJ and was sleeping on my couch recording music. That shit was all hustle. We hustled him into a chart topping, international star with 10’s of millions of records sold. And that put me in the game.
Any advice to aspiring rappers? Stop rapping over your vocals at shows.
Any crazy stories from this game we call rap/hip hop? Too many stories. But i dont snitch.
What inspired you to start your own label commission music? Honestly, i started Commission out of frustration. I got sick of watching my artists careers get fucked up by major labels and I knew I could do it better. So when I found Lil Dicky, I decided to take the plunge. I risked my life savings to break him. Everyone thought i was crazy betting on some nerdy white guy who was doing comedic rap. But I’ve always been able to identify talent, and he had the “it” factor – so I trusted my gut. We ended up with a top 10 urban single that went double platinum, 2 gold singles and a gold album. That was my proof of concept.
What exactly is Commission Music? Is it a label? An artist management firm? both? because I see your listed as the label for dicky, and madeintyo, but you also recently signed DJ Envy.
We’re primarily a record label – but since we come from management, it’s always gonna be in the DNA. I’d still manage artists but it has to be the right thing, I am having too much fun running a label now.
Ok, so how do you and your team juggle both? Because after the hoopla with Hopsin, some have said mixing the two can be a headache or trouble.
As long as you do good business it’s not really an issue. If we’re managing an artist who’s also signed to the label, we don’t take a management % on any of the profits from the record side – which actually works out better for the artist because it saves them money.
Can you tell us how you met/found some of your artists such as Lil Dicky, Madeintyo, and 24 hrs? I met MadeinTYO and 24hrs backstage at a Lil Dicky concert in NYC. Their whole crew was there and I thought they looked interesting so i googled them and found “uber everywhere” on youtube. It only had 37,000 plays at the time but it had such a dope energy. I DM’d Tyo the next day. Now he’s multiplatinum and his brother 24hrs just had a top 10 urban single.
How has your company benefited from aligning with BMG? What do they provide in your strategic partnership?
Before we partnered with BMG, i was funding everything from my own pocket so there was only so many projects we could work at once. Now our arrangement with them takes that burden off. We can sign more acts, hire more staff and scale. They’re a huge international powerhouse that loves what we’re doing. We do our thing and tap into their resources as needed. We’re still 100% independent, but have all the capabilities of a major.
CuratedFlame has interviewed over 90 producers so far, and in the last couple months there has been a lot of controversy with how labels are paying producers. Do you have any thoughts or comments on this? How does Commission music handle the payment of producers?
Again you have to deal with the right people. There are never any payment issues over here at Commission. A lot of times you deal with artists and teams who don’t know the business side so they just throw things up on Soundcloud or wherever without agreements or terms worked out. We make sure to get all that stuff sorted as soon as we start working with someone. It can be like pulling teeth, but we do things right so everyone gets credited and paid properly.
What are your plans for 2018? More platinum records, more gold records, more top 10’s. We’re gunning for these other labels.
Lastly, what is one food, you don’t hate, but you could live without ever having again? Any desert. I’m not with that sweet shit!
Anthony Martini links: