Hazel SavageWith 15 years experience in the industry, Hazel is a music-tech lifer, guitarist and CEO/Co-Founder at Musiio.

She started her music-tech journey as an early employee at Shazam and spent time understanding the pain points of the industry at Pandora, Universal and HMV before launching Musiio in 2018.

Hazel travels the world speaking at conferences and educating catalogue owners about the value of artificial intelligence integration and digital transformation in the music industry. As a female CEO in the heavily male-dominated industries of music and tech, Hazel offers a breath of fresh air and insight, with interesting and humorous anecdotes, as well as easy-to-follow explanations and digestible use cases of artificial intelligence technology.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

My name is Hazel (Savage) (it’s my real name!!) and I am the CEO and co-founder of Musiio an Artificial Intelligence company working in the Music Industry. I’ve been working in the Music Industry for over 14 years. I started at HMV record store as a weekend job whilst at University and from there moved to Shazam, Pandora, UMG and a handful of startups along the way.

I play guitar and used to be in an all-girl 3-piece punk band in London. Music is a pretty all consuming part of my life… I’ve got tickets to a show in Nov 2021… I’m banking on live music being back by then!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I didn’t. Growing up I didn’t know anyone that worked in the music industry and when I started you had to ‘know someone’ or have an “in” and I didn’t think that could happen for me. What couldn’t be foreseen when I was growing up was the launch of the iPhone in 2007 that opened up a world of Music Tech companies and music startups and that is where I found my “in” and my niche. I also figure that one day I’d grow up and not work in music anymore, but I started in it and then I just kept moving from job to job and next thing you know I have been in the music industry 14+ years. So it wasn’t a plan… but it was definitely a hustle.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Plenty of times! In fact I read a great quote the other day that said “If you do everything right, it will look like you did nothing at all.” And it might look like my career just happened, or that it was easy. But I’ve had my fair share, or possibly slightly more than my fair share, of bad managers and unfair treatment. But it’s my personal belief based on experience that you learn more when it goes wrong than when it goes right… and how you handle the situations is far more important than avoiding those challenging situations. *I looked up the quote, it’s from Futurama, great show! And the complete text is: When You Do Things Right, People Won’t Be Sure You’ve Done Anything at All.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Tough one! There have been some really great achievements such as ‘the first keynote speech I gave’ although the reality was decidedly less glamorous than whatever you are picturing!  Or ‘raising over one million dollars in investment’  these things have elements that are hard to do, so I am proud of the work. I try to celebrate all the wins… big or small, I was quoted in Rolling Stone Magazine for an article about Tik Tok earlier this year, and that was a total life goal.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

Resilience. It’s been my experience that grit and resilience have been the core to my successes. I didn’t give up when people told me I couldn’t do things, or that because something ‘wasn’t for girls’ such as guitar playing… I just kept going, and the fact I didn’t know anyone in music, didn’t matter… work hard, take the knocks, get back up and keep going. No matter who you are, it will be hard at some point, that’s the nature of life, how you stick with it and handle difficulties can dictate the outcome, or it certainly has for me, perhaps more than any other factor.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

I think it depends if you want to be on the commercial side or the developer/tech side of technology. There are people much better suited to giving advice from a pure coding perspective, such as https://codefirstgirls.org.uk/ set up be Alice Bentinck. But on the commercial side, I feel you can’t go wrong with some solid networking, although it’s harder these days with COVID to get out to all the conferences, it’s worth doing the online events and webinars. Make connections and build your network.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

There are barriers. It’s known that less women get VC investment, and I know from personal experience at Musiio how hard it is to find female developers to join the team. I’d say I am not an expert in addressing the complex reasons behind what I see but what I personally try to do is to make changes in my own world, hiring with diversity, to include as many women or non-binary folx in leadership and the company as a whole, I like try to keep the demographic of our team non-monolithic.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

I think there are a few things, but the ones that jump to mind are: Fair pay. Equal opportunities for promotion. Mentorship. Offering training where possible. I think all of these things can have an impact.

I’d also be really open to hearing from young women in tech what THEY think support looks like, especially on the developer side. What are the gaps? What could be done better? I think I learn more from asking this question than I would just looking at my own take on it.

There is currently on 17% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Oof tough BUT GOOD question… this is a real thinker. Ok so since I have magic wand I get to have caveats as well I hope! I say that because I would love to see a women on every board of directors. It is shocking how few women there are, and this is a real position of power, something that can (if done well) lead change for entire organisations. That said, I ask for the magic wand, because if it was simply a quota to fill, we would see token appointments to ‘fill a seat’ with no impact or effect, it would become a box to tick. But since this is magic, in my vision these are genuine impactful appointments with equal voice in the discussions.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Check out https://elpha.com/ it’s an online tech community for women, it’s a great place for all levels experience to learn and ask questions.

Also I have to recommend the incubator where I met my co-founder, Entrepreneur First. https://www.joinef.com/ if you ever thought about having your own company, this is a great place to start.

Also, I love to follow Arlan Hamilton on Twitter, she has a background in entertainment but is now an investor. She’s boss-goals for sure!  https://twitter.com/ArlanWasHere

WeAreTechWomen has a back catalogue of thousands of Inspirational Woman interviews, including Professor Sue Black OBE, Debbie Forster MBE, Jacqueline de Rojas CBE, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE and many more. You can read about all our amazing women here