Oliver Anthony's co-manager Draven Riffe says that amid the meteoric viral success of the singer's "Rich Men North of Richmond," some major names have taken notice.
"There have been other artists who have reached out, honestly just to be a mentor," Riffe tells Billboard, citing Jelly Roll, Randy Travis, Ryan Upchurch and Brent Smith of Shinedown. Jamey Johnson shared a stage with Anthony earlier this month at a show in North Carolina, where the pair performed Johnson's 2008 hit "In Color." John Rich has been in touch, too, offering to produce music for Anthony and praising him on social media.
"We're literally open to working with everybody," Riffe continues, but says no plans have yet firmed up about the specifics of those collaborations.
Riffe, who co-manages Anthony alongside a businessman named Brian Prentice, is also the co-founder of radiowv, a YouTube channel that spotlights unsigned country and folk artists from the Virginia and West Virginia areas. It was this platform that helped introduce Anthony's "Rich Men North of Richmond" to a global platform, with his performance video of the song racking up nearly 27 million views and landing at the No. 1 spot on YouTube's Trending page for music as of Sunday (Aug. 20.)
With that level of viral success, Riffe says that record labels and agents are swarming to sign Anthony, but the singer and his team are "taking it slow" as they make decisions about who to work with. Last week, in a Facebook post, Anthony claimed he has turned down "8 million dollar offers," explaining, "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."
Riffe, who is also a musician and hails from West Virginia, says he began supporting Anthony simply because he felt such a strong connection to it.
"I listened to Oliver's music and I just knew he was special. Normally, it's 'OK, this person has a good song and I want to help them out and get them on the channel.' With Oliver, I called my friends and family on my way to record him and also on my way back to tell them how special [he was.]"
Riffe says he and Anthony "prayed before the session" when they recorded "Rich Men North of Richmond." "We just felt like it was for a purpose that was way bigger than us, just two old regular dudes, you know what I mean?" he recounts.
"In our opinion, God has chosen to speak through Oliver and to speak to all Americans through his music, all around the world," Riffe continues. "We've gotten comments from Zimbabwe, every country you could think of."