Royalty Exchange’s newly anointed CEO, Anthony "Ant" Martini, comes to the post with a serious pedigree in the industry and considerable entrepreneurial experience. Though he’s incredibly busy steering the company amid the new catalog gold rush, he took the time to sift a few of our questions—though we’re best known as fool’s gold.

Congratulations on being included in Fast Company’s latest list of innovators. How does Royalty Exchange fit into the booming marketplace of catalog sales and songs as an asset class? What does buy-in from investors outside the music biz signify?
Royalty Exchange was the first company to promote music royalties as a legitimate asset class, and we’re still the only platform in existence that opens up the space to buyers and sellers of all sizes; we’re opening up the sandbox to everyone who wants to play. The $100m deals look sexy as a headline, but what we’re doing has a greater impact on the space as a whole. Let the big funds fight over the top 1% of the biz; we’re focused on serving the other 99%.

Catalogs have become an attractive investment for “outside money” because royalties generate predictable returns—and they’re safe because they’re not affected by market volatility or economic conditions.

You have a well-rounded background in the music biz, including music management. How have your experiences, good and bad, informed your approach with Royalty Exchange?
All of it has informed my approach. As an artist manager or as a record-label owner and everything in between, I’ve seen one unchanging dynamic: The more money needed = the more leverage lost. Creatives knowingly enter into bad deals because they need funding (or services provided as a form of funding). If we eliminate that pain point, all the control stays with the artists. If an artist could get money to invest in their own career, why would they ever want to sign away their rights? That’s a game-changing model, and we’re already proving it. Empowering artists is our mission.

As artists have tried to navigate a landscape without touring, catalog sales have naturally proved enticing. What’s a checklist for a creator to determine whether they’re right for you, and vice versa?
It really depends on what the individual goals are. Since we’re a platform for artists of all sizes, it’s really just about determining what parts of your catalog you’d like to make available. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach; we can do a full-on catalog deal or, if you want to dip your toe in the water with a few songs—or even a portion of a few songs—you can do that too. We’ve had plenty of creatives start out small and come back to do bigger deals right after.

What other opportunities do you think hold the most promise as fresh revenue streams for creators? What are your thoughts on things like NFTs?
Necessity is the mother of invention, right? We’ve seen a lot of creative business models explode this past year. Things like OnlyFans, Cameo, virtual concerts, Verzuz battles, blockchain and of course NFTs. I think all these things are here to stay and just offer more avenues for creators to make a living. NFTs in particular offer the potential for more transparency and fairness because of the foundation of blockchain technology and smart contracts. I’m personally experimenting with ways we can apply NFTs to the business.

How have you made life during lockdown bearable? What are your go-to amusements?
During lockdown I discovered F45, which is a group HIIT workout, and I don’t know what I would have done without it. It completely kicks your ass for 45 minutes, and since it’s nonstop movement, it’s over before you know it. Their 45-day challenge gave me a goal to work on, and I think I actually formed an addiction, because I was going to multiple classes a day. I ended up winning the challenge, so I’ve since cut down my frequency to only four days a week!