Hazel Savage of Musiio, a British-run Singapore-based music tech startup tells us about combining music and technology.
First of all, how are you doing in these COVID-19 times?
Hazel Savage: I’m doing well, thanks for asking. As I always say, I can’t complain! I’m based in Singapore, and we are proud to have no community transmissions as I give this answer, so I have been very lucky in 2020 and 2021 so far.
The business has also flourished for the last year. Music is not something people ever give up, even when belts tighten, so our industry is a robust one!
Tell us about your career and how you founded Musiio.
Hazel Savage: I started 15 years ago working part-time at HMV in my hometown. From there, I was lucky my CV caught the eye of the hiring manager at Shazam, then a little-known Music Tech startup. After Shazam, I also worked for Pandora, Universal, and a few other companies. So now I have 15 years experience in one industry, I don’t think anyone else would have me!
3 years ago, I joined an incubator called Entrepreneur First (E.F. for short); it’s a talent investor who brings on individuals to meet each other and form companies. I met my co-founder Aron at the Singapore E.F. 3rd cohort, and together we workshopped the idea that eventually became Musiio. It is, at its core, my experience in music and his knowledge of A.I. technologies combined.
How does Musiio innovate?
Hazel Savage: The great thing about startups is that innovation is the default. We are always experimenting with our own technology, applications of it, and requests and queries from the customers we work with. It isn’t a one person’s job; it’s everyone’s job. People can innovate within their own role or even in other areas of the business. Our front-end developer just rearranged our office furniture last week to better utilize the space; it is absolutely brilliant and wouldn’t have occurred to me. A funny example, but just one way to demonstrate our ‘have at it’ approach!
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business finances?
Hazel Savage: Recorded music has been a robust segment of the industry, although as we speak, I do believe life is bouncing back. Get ready for this century’s roaring twenties!
Very early on, we changed our sales model, originally we used to sell to everyone from sole traders to fortune 500s, but the pandemic made independents and SMEs more conservative with new business. But the big boys doubled down, so we shifted to focus on that segment of the market. But it did all start to come back in Q4 2020.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Hazel Savage: Not pandemic-related H.R. decisions, but any business leader will have to make difficult decisions when it comes to staff. It’s one of the parts of the jobs I find the hardest because when people join your company, they put their faith in you, and any action I take that negatively affects a member of staff, whether it’s funding, staffing, or sales related, it affects people, and if that failure is my responsibility, I take it very personally.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Hazel Savage: Our products are A.I. based and related to the music industry, so you get a double whammy on complexity. We tend to sell to elephants as opposed to flies (you might need to read this to get that reference, it refers to customer deal size!) So I do a lot of the C.S. myself. As we expand, I have started to bring in my other sellers and our music team. It’s a role I’ve learnt I need to resource internally as we are a relatively new startup.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Hazel Savage: As a predominantly S.G.-based company, we benefited from the Covid response package designed to help keep locals employed. It’s been great.
Your final thoughts?
If anyone would like to know more about what we do, or even try the A.I. for themselves, head here