Music entrepreneur Anthony Martini on the importance of adaptability in uncertain times

Lil Dicky’s debut was a massive success, claiming the #1 spot on several Billboard charts including #1 Rap Album and #1 Independent Album, spinning off 3 platinum singles.

Anthony Martini never intended to become a record label exec, the term itself conjures an image of slick corporate operators, that make this straight-talking “Jersey Guy” cringe. But Martini believes to be a successful entrepreneur, adaptability will get you further than most other skills. He explains, “Opportunity may knock at inopportune times, you just have to be willing to adapt.” With looming uncertainty about the post-COVID-19 business landscape, this philosophy resonates now more than ever. In 2015, Martini was fully immersed in artist management, travelling the world with his superstar client, Tyga.

But when he met a then-unknown rapper named Lil Dicky, everything shifted. “I already knew he was technically skilled, but when we met, I saw the killer instinct. No one was going to stand in the way of this dudes’ success”. Martini remembers how Dicky didn’t want to sign to a major label and proceeded to lay out his vision for the next 10 years, “I was ready to bet the house on him.” And bet the house he did, literally. Martini left the healthy management commissions behind, cleared out his savings, and decided to build an independent record label around his first recording artist. It’s important to note that this was in 2015 before streaming reinvigorated the record business. “People thought I was crazy,” Martini remembers, “how I could shut down a lucrative management business, to start a record label based around a guy named after a penis.”

Martini ultimately proved the doubters wrong, Lil Dicky’s debut was a massive success, claiming the #1 spot on several Billboard charts including #1 Rap Album and #1 Independent Album, spinning off 3 platinum singles. Martini quickly built a legitimate record company with momentum setting the tone for rapid growth to come. More artist 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. Martini turned his scrappy new company into a force to be reckoned with. As music streaming grew, pushing the record business back into profitability, Commission was now valued at $20 million, and investment money began to flow. Last year Martini sold an equity stake to the private media company Big Noise, proving that the “worst time” to start a new venture might be the best time.

Follow Anthony on Twitter and Instagram @Anthony Martini never intended to become a record label exec, the term itself conjures an image of slick corporate operators, that make this straight-talking “Jersey Guy” cringe. In 2015, Martini was fully immersed in artist management, travelling the world with his superstar client, Tyga. But when he met a then-unknown rapper named Lil Dicky, everything shifted. “I already knew he was technically skilled, but when we met, I saw the killer instinct. No one was going to stand in the way of this dudes’ success”. Martini remembers how Dicky didn’t want to sign to a major label and proceeded to lay out his vision for the next 10 years, “I was ready to bet the house on him.”

 Martini ultimately proved the doubters wrong, Lil Dicky’s debut was a massive success, claiming the #1 spot on several Billboard charts including #1 Rap Album and #1 Independent Album, spinning off 3 platinum singles. Martini quickly built a legitimate record company with momentum setting the tone for rapid growth to come. More artist 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. Martini turned his scrappy new company into a force to be reckoned with. As music streaming grew, pushing the record business back into profitability, Commission was now valued at $20 million, and investment money began to flow. Last year Martini sold an equity stake to the private media company Big Noise, proving that the “worst time” to start a new venture might be the best time.

Follow Anthony on Twitter and Instagram @realantmoney

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