Meet the team | Benedict Rolfe

Benny is our man with the plan. As Head of Product at AI Music, he is responsible for coordinating the efforts of all our teams in order to deliver on the full suite of Ossia products. Not only that, he is an avid musician and producer in his own right – and someone who even managed his own record label in his early years.

Benny Rolfe ft. favourite snack

As someone who has been part of the company for several years now, his knowledge and expertise in all things music and tech make him an integral force in our process. We sat down with him to learn more about his passions, projects and approach to product management at AI Music.

How did you become involved in AI Music and what is your role within the organisation?

I’ve always had an affinity with creative industries and a passion for music. In fact, I have a degree in fine arts, I play the bass guitar across a number of genres and produce music in my spare time. Back in my teenage years, I actually managed a small label with some school friends!

Therefore, once the time came for me to leave my last role at Bafta Awards as Product Manager, AI Music just seemed like the perfect fit from all the options presented to me. The fact that its a combination of technology and music makes it the ideal choice. Then after I came to the office to meet the team, my mind was set – this was the place for me!

Check out some of his creative works on Spotify, Benny Rolfe a.k.a. Gaskel Grime co-wrote this track:

What’s the most exciting trend in the industry right now?

I think what’s been most interesting for me is the rise of audio and music personalisation. When I started at AI Music, the concept of personalising what a consumer hears was pretty much unheard of. A lot of our early work went into demonstrating the benefits of adaptive music to our audience.

Now, with the rise of podcasting, digital streaming and smart speakers, more and more brands are starting to understand the value of personalised audio consumption. We’ve had some really interesting partnerships with brands and agencies looking to do just that and you can see that this has momentum in the industry and isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

Read the Cox Communications case study to learn more about our work with leading brands in adaptive audio.

An example of adaptive audio in the healthcare industry

The project you’re most proud of?

One of the things I’m proud of is the way our infrastructure is built in a way that is so unique and unusual. There’s such a range of requirements and demands from our all our products that the architecture that’s required to support that is tricky. I can't take all the credit, of course, it's been predominantly the work of Diego and our Dev team, but all the moving pieces that we have to keep on top of mean I’ve been heavily involved in the process.

It’s certainly the most technically advanced project I’ve ever been involved in because so much of our technology is so interdependent as a system.

How do you approach product management at AI Music?

So, It’s an interesting one. In my previous roles, I mainly worked with stakeholders and developers. The process at AI Music is something that makes it really different. We have the Research team and their way of working that is so fascinating and runs in a completely different way to our Development team. And although I don’t directly work with our Music team, their work has influence and provides an added variable to what we do. For me, my job is to balance all those spinning plates in the air.

In order to do this job effectively, it’s important to familiarise and have an understanding of things as best as I can. So I can help aid and communicate in the best way possible for all. So not to sound cliche, but communication is key.

Why do you like working at AI Music?

I think what we do is really stimulating. I’m not someone who does well being bored, so when every day here is challenging, when there’s too much is do to and never enough time – that’s something I love.

On a personal level, I just get along well with everyone. They’re all crazy talented people and there’s always plenty of info to absorb. There aren’t the usual office politics here either, everyone has each other back and are pushing together towards the same goal. That’s why I like coming to “work” every day, or more accurately these days, to zoom every day.

Finally, I want everything I do to have some human connection attributed to it. I could never work at AI Music if there wasn’t human creativity at its heart.

How do you answer when people object to AI in the creative industry?

I think for a lot of people it’s the fear of the unknown that holds many of the reservations. It’s an understandable fear of course, but the reality is a lot more complicated than the ‘machines are taking over.’ It’s got this perception in peoples mind of the terminator coming in and taking over – making all creative jobs obsolete.

In reality, it’s much more about a series of tools that enhance human efforts and creativity. Take the analogy of animals vs. humans in a landrace. Over a longer distance, the human has the highest average pace when riding a bicycle than any other animal. My feeling is that this principle can be applied to AI Music, the tools we provide can be used as little or as much as you like to aid the creative process. Our ethos here is not to replace human creativity but to augment and elevate it.

Read our blog on the subject to learn more on our approach to creativity and artificial intelligence.

Favourite song/album of all time?

It’s so difficult to pick as it’s so mood, context, memory etc. dependent, but some things that I always go back to:

I find something hypnotically beautiful about this track, I think Aril Brikha did a lot of live parameter manipulation to the arp which makes it feel more human. It just takes me back to some fond memories:

I just think this track is simply stunning, so much emotion with no percussion and just a few synths:

There isn't an album I go back to more than Rumours. The songwriting is great, the production is amazing and it’s packed full of behind the scenes drama. It all comes together to make an incredible album:

Song you have on repeat right now?

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