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Closeup photo of Margaret Lam at her desk
Margaret Lam. Photo by Nicholas Li

Music to the Ears

Margaret Lam’s company aims to reduce ticket prices for concertgoers

Ticketmaster has what’s been called an “iron lock” on the event ticket business – to the dismay of concertgoers who aren’t wild about their exorbitant service fees. In recent years, companies such as Eventbrite and Ticketfly have been playing David to this longstanding Goliath. Now there’s another one: BeMused Network, an online hub that seeks not only to reduce ticket prices, but to provide technology tools designed and priced specifically for what founder Margaret Lam (BA 2008 UC, Master of Information Studies 2011) calls “the performing arts ecosystem: artists, patrons and presenters – and eventually bloggers, volunteers and local businesses.”

A trained pianist, Lam studied ethnomusicology and initially considered becoming a music librarian. But grad studies in Library and Information Science inspired her to take her love of the arts online: hence BeMused Network, conceived four years ago. Artists who sign on can use the network’s channels to promote their events; the network features an eclectic mix of acts, including classical, jazz and theatre. Patrons can buy tickets without having to worry about registration and, of course, large surcharges.

But Lam wants the network to do more: connect interested venues, critics and even donors with artists, for example. She believes technology can be a great tool for fostering meaningful connections – especially in the arts, where performers are often siloed by discipline. “At U of T I learned that technology has to be built for specific needs and not for its own sake. And the arts sector’s needs are unique.”

Who’s on Stage?

Closeup photo of Olivia Shortt against a wooden door
Olivia Shortt. Photo: Sara Everson.

Many BeMused Network artists have U of T links. Here are a few.

Ron Davis (BA 1978, MA 1987, PhD 1993) is a jazz composer and pianist. He once practised law, and was a U of T French prof in the ’90s. Lam says Davis is the “perfect example of an artist who’s attracted to our platform: forward-­looking and curious; well-steeped in his own art, but knowledgeable about the outside world.”

U of T master’s student Olivia Shortt (BMus Perf 2014, Adv Cert Perf 2016) is a saxophonist of Ojibwe and Irish descent, who hails from Nipissing First Nation. In June, she will be producing Tales from Turtle Island in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

Mike Murley is a professor of jazz at U of T, and Juno Award winner. In March, he helped composer Shannon Graham (BMus Perf 2011) and others bring their dreams to life with “Tales of the Unconscious,” compositions emanating from the sleeping mind.

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