Anthony “Ant” Martini has been appointed CEO of Royalty Exchange, effective immediately. Matthew Smith, founding CEO of the online platform, stays on as chairman.
In announcing Martini’s appointment, Smith stated, “I’m incredibly happy that we found Anthony and that he agreed to step into the CEO role. “He has the experience, vision, drive and relationships—not to mention charisma—to lead Royalty Exchange into its next chapter.”
Martini, a former artist manager and independent label executive, said, “I’ve always enjoyed the thrill of finding the next big artist, but this time I’ve found the next big company. Royalty Exchange is disrupting the financial landscape of the music business in favor of those who actually create the value in this industry—the artists. That’s a mission I can get behind and take to the next level.”
Prior to joining Royalty Exchange, Martini founded indie label Commission Records, whose roster included hit artists Lil’ Dicky and MadeinTYO. Martini sold a majority stake in the label to Big Noise in 2019. Martini launched his industry career as an artist manager, later advancing to a senior role at Crush Management where he discovered and managed rapper Tyga, among other acts. From there, Martini segued to music licensing platform Jingle Punks and played an instrumental role in its sale to Canadian publisher Anthem Entertainment.
Earlier this week, Royalty Exchange was ranked No. 8 in the music category on Fast Company’s annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2021. In the last four years, Denver-headquartered Royalty Exchange reports that it has facilitated more than 1,000 transactions and directed more than $90 million in new funding to creators and right holders. To date, the company has 27,000 registered investors.
In his new role, East Coast-based Martini has already helmed two new artist-focused initiatives: a partnership with digital distributor Vydia and The eXchange. The Vyia partnership, announced on March 3, is available to clients that use Vydia to distribute their music. Under terms of the agreement, those clients can request an advance on future royalties. In turn, they have complete control over the amount of the request, how much they’ll repay in return and also will retain full rights to their music.
In the first test of the program, Royalty Exchange and Vydia referenced up-and-coming Atlanta rapper Money Mu. He requested a $400,000 advance in return for a $571,000 repayment. The auction bid the advance up to $444,000.
The eXchange, introduced on Feb. 16, is the name given to Royalty Exchange’s expansion of its online marketplace. The merged two of the company’s popular features into one platform: the Secondary Market, where investors relist catalogs acquired on Royalty Exchange to investors, and Direct Listings, where rights holders can publicly list their catalogs at a price they set rather than hold an auction.
“These are game-changing models that can give artists an opportunity to control their own destiny,” Martini tells Billboard. “Royalty Exchange had focused mostly on songwriters and producers, selling public performance or publishing royalties. That’s been a huge business over the past four years. But coming from the label side, I see an opportunity to expand further and help even more artists and Independent labels and their [building] artists by expanding into sound recording royalties.”
While Royalty Exchange has done deals with Eminem, Dire Straits and Slipknot, Martini says the company has also worked on deals for creatives who aren’t on that level. Those dollar amounts have ranged from $10,000 up to multimillions of dollars. Moving forward, Royalty Exchange’s 2021 plans include replicating the Vydia partnership with more distributors as well as further expanding its service/resource initiatives for artists.
“Throughout my career, my vision has always been focused on empowering artists, especially the 99% of non-superstar artists,” says Martini. “We want to really open this up to everybody and be super-inclusive.”