WIMTACH empowers TNMG to build its future
For many small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), experiencing growth in products, sales, customers and/or brand loyalty can be exciting and challenging. On the one hand, growth creates opportunities and possibilities for partnerships, collaborations and innovation. On the other hand, growth can be challenging to maximize without the right resources. For Maryanne McMullen, it was the latter that brought her to WIMTACH in order to achieve the former.
“I was working with the city of Toronto. I learned about the innovative program…I went to the conference and it was all about innovation and they did presentations on different projects. And I’m like, ‘Wow this is really cool and I know what I’m doing and what my project can do and the impact that I can have on the music industry. I met Jeziel (Project Manager of WIMTACH) there and stayed in contact, and there was a lot of back and forth in 2018. In 2019 is when the project got started.”
Maryanne is an artist and CEO of The Next Music Generation (TNMG), an online platform for music artists to digitally manage their own careers and reap the benefits of their work holistically. Although she was building a profile and a name for the company, Maryanne needed support with proposal writing in order to support her company’s growth digitally, which required high-level software development and design. WIMTACH was awarded 15 College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) vouchers, each worth $10,000, to help companies address their business and innovation challenges. WIMTACH provided TNMG with one.
Often, SMEs have to find different kinds of expertise in more than one place, and even then it’s not available until after funding has been secured. This leaves SMEs at a risk and a loss simultaneously because of the uncertainty of the service(s) being offered. Technology Access Centres (TAC) like WIMTACH are important for businesses like TNMG because the access to specialized knowledge is always accompanied by guidance from the same experts, leading to new ideas and opportunities for partnerships without the hefty cost.
“I didn’t have the writing knowledge to create the proposal. [WIMTACH] really worked with me and they were very patient with me. I’m extremely grateful because if it wasn’t for that, I probably wouldn’t be where we are right now.”
With WIMTACH, TNMG was able to enhance this platform by including a variety of special features that are intended to uplift and empower artists, such as booking meetings, uploading music, real-time payment, specific artist profiles and artist categorization, all of which are often unavailable to newer artists. However, the project was also an opportunity to tackle core issues in the music industry, such as cybersafety, sexism and equal pay.
“As a woman in the music industry it’s very challenging. It’s a very sexist industry for women. There’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t know about…[Our platform] eliminated the risk [of unsafe correspondence with predatory music professionals] because the person is totally online; they’re totally under supervision…These are things we were thinking about when we were building it, thinking about the overall picture.”
WIMTACH Student Researchers were key in bringing this vision to fruition. They developed the software components of the platform, including the innovative communications portions of the platform, TNMG Communications. It functions like Zoom and Google Hangouts to reduce the frustration artists face trying to network and video chat with prospective collaborators. What appeared to be a routine technical task had a much bigger impact on Maryanne.
“[Working with the students] was a great experience; it taught me leadership. There was one particular student who stood out because he came during the last bit of the project and he just went with it…you could see the passion and desire within the students. They were embracing the project too. The students were really great, they knew what they were doing…it was like “I can breathe a little because I was basically doing it alone before”
In early May of this year, the project was completed and closed with a demonstration of the platform led by the Principal Investigator and the Student Researchers of the project. Maryanne was shown exactly how the newly developed online platform functions and how music artists who use it could finally reap the total benefits of their work.
The future is on the horizon for TNMG. To further ensure protections for artists, Maryanne wants to add a facial recognition feature, a bidding section for specific skill sets and a loyalty
Program that will pay artists for referring other artists. She is also looking to build more partnerships with businesses and to build a facility in Miami, Florida in the United States. With this new experience working with WIMTACH, the only place Maryanne and her company are going is forward.
“It’s funny how the universe works. You feel like you’re on deaf ears. You feel like it’s not going to go anywhere, not achieve the things that I want to achieve. There’s always a turn for the better. Hopefully, this will be the start of a new beginning for me.”
For more information about this project, please visit the TNMG website here.
For more information about WIMTACH projects and collaborations, please visit here.
WIMTACH proudly recognizes funding to support this work from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) program of the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE).