Season 2 Episode 4

Non-Fungible Tokens : The secret to Financial Independence for Digital Creators


If you have been involved in any layer of the internet over the past year and a half, then the acronym NFT might sound familiar. Every now and then, a new technology sweeps across the media industry, forcing big market players to either adapt or fall behind. NFTs, formally known as Non-Fungible Tokens, have become the newest phenomenon to rise in popularity amongst industry population, including big media brands and freelance digital creators alike.

The popularity of the NFT is attributed to its revolutionary potential to reshape the ownership and monetization of digital content by creators in the digital space. In an industry so reliant on the connectivity of the internet, and where, unfortunately, copyright maintains a loose and subjective stance on protecting the rights of creators who put their work on any internet platform, NFTs provide unmatched financial potential for digital artists who have previously not been recognized, or more importantly, paid for their viral work.

In recent months, popular NFT creators have made headlines for making thousands, and in some cases, millions off of their NFT collections, proving that the advantages of the blockchain are bountiful. However, with all good things, come inescapable consequences and, as with all new technology,  skepticism. In the same way NFT’s have been celebrated, NFT creators have been criticized for the harmful environmental effects, such as high output of carbon emissions, as well as the trend of exclusionary, expensive pricing that comes with collection ownership.

With all this talk of financial independence and opportunity cost of NFTs, how does a digital creator take advantage? Is there a way to be involved without doing more harm to the environment? Ultimately, what will NFTs mean for the media industry moving forward?

In this month’s episode of Hot Takes, we speak with Owen Brown, Creative Director of creative agency, CTRL5, and multi-Telly Award winning Director on how NFTs are bringing financial independence to struggling digital creators and why the benefit for those artists, both professionally and financially, outweigh any cons associated with minting.

Watch the episode below!

Owen is a director and creative director who’s worked with Barack Obama, Apple Music, Epic Records, Domino Records, Budweiser, Sofar Sounds, WME and Stella Artois. He specializes in creating innovative music content, and in that capacity, he’s worked with artists like Bob Moses, ZHU, SOFI TUKKER and A Great Big World. He’s won two gold Telly Awards for his work, as well as earning major award wins at SXSW, The Clio Awards and The Webby Awards. 

He’s the founder of CTRL5, a first-of-its-kind creative agency for artists. There, his focus is on applying the creative agency model found at places like Anomaly, his first creative agency, to the music industry for the first time to help artists create consistent visual identities through music videos, live films, album art and NFTs. 

To create his first NFT project “Walk With You”, he worked with, acclaimed digital artist David Ariew (collaborator with Beeple, Deadmau5, Zedd) and alternative pop artist Janelle Kroll. Through it, he raised money and awareness to fight climate change. 

Before joining the music industry, he began his career working for Barack Obama in 2007 — where he helped create the president’s first social media campaign — earned his master’s at Columbia University’s top-ranked School of Journalism, and wrote for outlets like VICE using “Buster Brown” as a nom de plume, a nickname he still has today.

Hot Takes is an original, monthly, Telly Awards interview series featuring a chosen industry leader and expert presenting an unfiltered, unrehearsed response to a hot button topic within their field. What’s your Hot Take? Get in touch with our Senior Producer, Dina Graham at for the chance to be featured!