The interview below was an exclusive interview initially published in Music Press Asia’s December 2022 e-magazine.
Q1: Hi Hazel, you have had an incredible year with expanding Musiio and joining SoundCloud. Tell us a little about this journey.
It’s been an absolutely amazing year, I sold Musiio to SoundCloud, moved back to the UK from Singapore to take up my role as VP, Music Intelligence, and I won the Entrepreneur of the Year award at the Music Week Women in Music Awards. It’s been a busy one, that’s for sure. It would have been hard to predict 2022 back when we started Musiio in 2018.
Q2: Is Musiio your very first role leading a tech company? Why is this different from your previous experiences?
Musiio is the first company I have co-founded, built, and sold. Just today, I was telling someone I’m not really a serial entrepreneur. If I ever do it again, then I would be. But I’ve only built and sold one company. I have worked for myself as a consultant before and always had side hustles as an artist manager or performer. I guess I am a workaholic. I love to be “doing”. Before Musiio, I worked for other great Music Tech companies: Shazam, Pandora, and more. I have always worked as if it was my name above the door, but when it really is you – as CEO and co-founder – it means you do what you need to do to get the job done. The reality is sales calls at 2 am, no leave. It’s certainly not for everyone, but the risk-reward ratio is high. I loved it, but it’s the hardest thing I have ever done.
Q3: How important are artificial intelligence and digital transformation to the music industry?
All new technology, AI included, can be really important for the music industry. When new tech comes along, it’s up to all of us to look at the potential, benefits, and risks just like any other tech assessment. There are extra ethical considerations with AI, too. I was very proud to work with Rolls Royce on an ethical framework they are continuing to develop!
Q4: Music has always been a core of the projects you have participated. What are some of the sweetest moments that kept you coming back to music and its industry?
I just love music. I am a fan, and I have been a performer. Music is my favourite art form, it’s my hobby and my day job. Which makes me feel very lucky!
Q5: Now that you’ve joined SoundCloud. How have things changed for you? In which area would you like to see, both professionally and personally, expand for you here?
Honestly, my role is very similar. I spend my days working with the Musiio clients; we have kept all our customers. I am so pleased that SoundCloud shares the vision Musiio had that having AI-based tag data widely available in the music industry benefits all artists and services. I also have really ramped up my speaking engagements. I want people to know what Musiio and SoundCloud are doing, so catch me everywhere soon! I’ll be at SXSW in 2023.
Q6: What does it feel like to be returning to London? When was the last time you lived/visited this city?
As a British person, it was quite a smooth transition. I am from here, so there is a certain familiarity. However, when I moved back this year (2022) I hadn’t actually lived in the UK for the last 12 years, which is pretty wild when I think about it. But I love family, so even when I lived overseas, I could be back as often as two to three times a year! Honestly, I love this country, and I love living here.
Q7: Do you miss Singapore and Southeast Asia?
Absolutely, that is the strange dichotomy of being someone who has lived all over! I miss Australia for certain things and the same with Singapore. I even started a list when I left Singapore called “things I miss” and it’s weird stuff. It’s not what you’d read in a guidebook. There was a restaurant called Meatsmith right outside the Musiio office in Telok Ayer, a BBQ joint. And it was always BLARING the loudest classic rock playlist. So it always felt like when arriving or leaving the office, you had the most incredible entrance or exit music.
Q8: Where would you go (in London) if you have a whole afternoon to yourself?
I love this question! You know, it depends. I was in London today with a free hour, but it’s only 3 degrees celsius which is too cold to hang around outside for too long so that changes the plans. But a whole afternoon in the winter? Coffee and a quiet corner in a cafe in Camden or Kentish Town. On a lovely warm day, a walk along the canal (again Camden!) or through any of the lovely gardens in central London.
Click here to view the rest of the December 2022 e-magazine by Music Press Asia.