Q&A – Jessica Powell CEO of AudioShake Indie, an AI song separation tool
AudioShake Indie separates songs into their elements, or ‘stems’, so musicians and producers can license their songs in new ways. Business Leader sat down with the CEO of AudioShake Indie Jessica Powell to discuss the future of the music industry, the potential for this new technology and being a woman in tech.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you ended up in your industry?
Prior to AudioShake, I worked for over a decade at Google and eventually led their communications division. Earlier in my career, I was at CISAC, the International Confederation of the Societies of Authors and Composers, which was when I was first introduced to the music industry. When I left Google, I knew I wanted to do something that brought together my interests in technology, creativity, and music, which is how AudioShake came about.
What does the future of the music industry look like to you?
In the future, music will be even more present in our lives than it is today, and the way we experience music will be much richer and more immersive. Music will play an important role in new formats in gaming, VR, and social media, and we will see increased ways for fans to throw themselves into a song, play along with their favorite group, and to customise and re-imagine the music.
How will Kanye West’s Donda Stem Player and your own AudioShake Indie change the way we stream music?
Kanye’s Donda stem player is a piece of hardware that allows fans to play with separated songs, while AudioShake is AI software that can separate songs into their stems and instrumentals so that people can remix and reimagine them.
Regardless of whether we’re talking about a device someone can play with, or various apps and websites, I think more and more artists will be making their stems available to their fans in the future and in ways that don’t require being an audio engineer or producer. In a not-far-off future, you’ll be sending audio memes and throwing yourself into your favorite artists’ songs, remixing them, and collaborating with friends and strangers alike—all with the same ease that we work today with images and video on social media.
What do you think the potential for this technology is?
If you can pull a song apart, you can make more immersive music experiences, open older songs up to karaoke, allow a guitar player to isolate their favorite guitar track and learn to play along, and create dynamic gaming, education, and fitness experiences where the music is constantly changing and built not just on the whole track but its parts. There is such a huge range of possibilities that I think we are really going to be experiencing music quite differently in five years’ time.
How do you think your technology will change the way artists create music?
For artists who don’t have their stems, technology like AudioShake Indie opens up new opportunities for their work. Already today, it makes it possible for artists to take advantage of something like sync licensing, which requires instrumentals.
As for how it might impact music creation, I think the increasing importance of stems means that artists will be more aware that their work will be listened to at the most atomic level, and perhaps that might change how they think of each individual component.
How do you think the metaverse might impact the music industry?
Gamers already consume more music than the average consumer, and music is going to play a huge role in the metaverse. Those audio experiences are going to be rich, immersive, and dynamic–which requires stems and being able to pull a song apart and work with it at different levels.
What has your experience as a woman in the music tech industry been like?
I came into the music industry much later in my career, and with a big advantage–a game-changing technology that really helps open up the catalog for new uses. So, I’ve found that people are very open to meeting, and to taking me and us seriously. Occasionally, someone will assume a different (male) team member is the CEO, but you just have to keep moving.
Do you have any advice for women wanting to break into this industry?
Work for and with people who value your ideas and work. You won’t only learn from them, but they’re also more likely to help open doors for you.