‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ singer signs first industry deal

Oliver Anthony now has an agent. After a bidding war where he “brush(ed) off $8 million offers” and had everyone from rap artists to record labels recruiting him, the ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ singer signed Thursday, Sept. 21 with United Talent Agency Nashville. 

“We’re honored to represent such an authentic artist, and excited to put together a global strategy to bring Oliver Anthony and his music to the people,” said UTA Nashville co-head Jeffrey Hasson and music agent Curt Motley. The pair released a statement after Anthony’s signing. 

UTA represents a significant number of musicians, including everyone from Cardi B to the Jonas Brothers, Lil Nas X to Guns N’ Roses and Post Malone. But Anthony made it clear this was, in his mind, a limited deal. 

“I am pleased to announce that I hired two gentlemen in Nashville this week to help me with creating the 2024 tour,” Anthony wrote on his Facebook page. “We’re going to be all over the US, and even doing some international travel. There’s no way I can pull that off by myself. Curt and Jeffery at UTA do all the legwork to make the performances happen safely and professionally.”

Anthony also made it clear he wasn’t giving up any ownership of his work.

“As I said early on, I am not signing any deals or selling any percentage of my music,” Anthony said. “There’s no amount of money that is worth risking the direct line of communication you and I currently have. When the music first exploded, the selfish part of me wanted to just go back in the woods and not come back out for a long while. But I realize that this is a lot bigger than just me now. I’ve been given a wonderful opportunity and I feel compelled to be respectful and diligent with it. I’m appreciative of all of you.

His first industry deal

This marks Anthony’s first major industry deal, at a time when he’s also filed to trademark the phrase from his signature song. According to a September 8 filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Anthony’s requesting the trademark for “Rich Men North of Richmond” to be used on everything from glassware to tools, hardware, brooms and other items.

The song itself remains popular on the Billboard Hot 100, currently sitting at 22 this week. The song debuted back in August at #1 on the Hot 100, the first time that’s happened for a singer with no record label or chart history. Anthony’s also just the sixth person to debut their first single at number 1. The other names aren’t bad company to be in. That includes people like Carrie Underwood, Clay Aiken, Zayn Malik and Fantasia Barrino. 

‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ bidding war 

All of that led to a bit of a bidding war, with different agents and companies trying to catch Anthony’s attention. Rapper Gucci Mane went to Instagram this month, trying to track Anthony’s contact info down. Mane asked his followers to help, saying he wanted to sign Anthony to his record label, 1017. 

“Aye fam, I need ya’ll help on this one,” Mane wrote in his Instagram post. “I’m trying sign these guys as my first country artists to 1017!! I need the info asap.” 

It’s not clear who else he was referring to, as Anthony was the only person in the picture Mane posted. 

But now the bidding war is over, as UTA will handle any potential plans for recording albums and distribution. 

In a social media post back in August, Anthony said he wasn’t looking for a millionaire lifestyle. “People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers,” Anthony wrote. “I don’t want 6 tour buses, 15 tractor trailers and a jet. I don’t want to play stadium shows, I don’t want to be in the spotlight.” 

That appears to have changed somewhat, as the singer has played Virginia’s Blue Ridge Rock Festival, made an appearance at Farmville’s Rock the Block and performed at shows in North Carolina and now Knoxville and Nashville, Tennessee. 

Who is the ‘Rich Men North of Richmond’ singer?

Born Christopher Anthony Lunsford, Anthony adopted his musical handle as a tribute to his grandfather, the original Oliver Anthony. 

“Oliver Anthony Music is a dedication not only to him, but 1930’s Appalachia where he was born and raised,” Anthony said in a Facebook post back in August. “Dirt floors, seven kids, hard times. At this point, I’ll gladly go by Oliver because everyone knows me as such. But my friends and family still call me Chris. You can decide for yourself, either is fine.” 

Anthony said he dropped out of school at age 17 in 2010, later earning his GED in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. 

“I worked multiple plant jobs in Western NC,” Anthony wrote, “my last being at the paper mill in McDowell County. I worked 3rd shift, 6 days a week for $14.50 an hour in a living hell. In 2013, I had a bad fall at work and fractured my skull. It forced me to move back home to Virginia. Due to complications from the injury, it took me 6 months or so before I could work again.”

Anthony said from 2014 until earlier in August, he worked outside sales in the industrial manufacturing world. 

“My job has taken me all over Virginia and into the Carolinas, getting to know tens of thousands of other blue collar workers on job sites and in factories,” Anthony said. “I’ve spent all day, everyday, for the last 10 years hearing the same story. People are so d*** tired of being neglected, divided and manipulated.”

As for where he lives now in Prince Edward County, Anthony said he paid $97,500 for the property in 2019 and still owes about $60,000 on it. Currently, he says he’s living in a 27′ camper with a tarp on the roof that he got off of Craigslist for $750.