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When a pandemic hits a relatively young business, it can go one of two ways.
For starters, it’s not exactly what you’ve been preparing for. Thinking back to when we were first building, developing and testing Musiio’s products – and finding those first clients – pandemic didn’t quite make the list of risks we thought we’d need to mitigate.
So if we were to employ a glass half full approach to what COVID-19 has taught emerging players in music tech, it’s this: be ready for anything.
Musiio’s Artificial Intelligence music tagging, search and playlisting capabilities are a 100% digital offering that can be accessed and delivered anywhere in the world. That 24/7 digital capability has always been one of the fundamental tenets of our business. We’re lucky that the pandemic didn’t rock the boat too much – in large part because we didn’t have to change how we deliver our products.
Of course, beyond the tech, you have a human element – as we do with our 15 strong team. That means some real world changes had to happen. Circuit breakers and office shutdowns through COVID-19 have created a new world for businesses everywhere. Meetings, pitches and catch ups all shifted to an exclusively virtual world for at least part of 2020, leaving some companies – like Twitter – questioning if their employees have to return to the office at all.
To be honest, we had some training for the out of office experience. Choosing Singapore as our HQ has given us incredible access to clients and collaborators in SEA and beyond. The beyond, of course, reaching time zones that aren’t exactly on the same sleep schedule as SGT. Needless to say, when connecting with a global client, we’re up with our game faces on, video conferencing Los Angeles at Midnight our time (9am theirs) – strong cups of coffee within reach.
Being digitally based from the start has served us well. We’re grateful that our product is AI, the expression of which is fully accessible for our clients whenever they need it. Music plays on, and in turn, businesses like ours have been able to keep the lights on. Now that we’re cautiously starting to see a return to the world we once knew, fledgling music tech businesses should take heart. We’ve seen a lot of positive new realities for the world of work and here are our top 5 takeaways:
1. Get comfortable pitching, selling and meeting on video
Musiio had a bit of an advantage here, seeing as we’re in Singapore and a lot of our clients, well, aren’t. But now that companies around the world are clocking up those VC hours, it’s never been easier to connect across time zones.
2. Put your hand up for online conferences
Next month, I’m speaking at events in Australia, Germany and the UK, all from Singapore. Previously I would have racked up some serious air miles, but now it will all be done from the comfort of my house. Sure I miss the travel, but I don’t miss the jetlag.
3. Keep on networking
If you’re not wandering around with 50 business cards stuffed in your pocket, are you really networking? Short answer. Yes – it’s still possible. Get creative. Sign up for webinars and free events and offer to speak. Hold your own event. Or even check out the famous ‘zoom’ breakout room. Think chat roulette, but for business.
4. Don’t forget your team!
Again, in the digital world we find ourselves in, it’s actually really important to remember there are real people on the other side of those screens. Team Musiio have done team yoga, stretching, and even a quiz hosted by yours truly. Or, you could always watch a gig together – there are so many new live streaming platforms, it’s almost impossible to not catch a new act!
5. Get a good lamp
If you’re not a night owl like me, it’s generally good business practice to look like you didn’t wake up 5 minutes before your midnight call with LA. A good lamp does wonders! Positioned directly behind the webcam, you look like you’ve had 10 hours sleep AND it helps illuminate your expressions and features. Thank me later!
Time to get back to it. If you’re interested to learn how we can create scalable products for your music business – no matter the time zone – we’re here to help.
Hazel Savage is the co-founder and CEO of Musiio, a Singapore-based musictech startup. Musiio uses AI based technology to tag, playlist and search music catalogues in a world where the supply of songs is ever growing. Not only can it automatically understand the BPM, key and genre, but go deeper by working out the mood and emotional feel.