TBMP Meets: Music Entrepreneur, Mary Otumahana

We had the opportunity to speak with music entrepreneur, Mary Otumahana!

TBMP Meets: Music Entrepreneur, Mary Otumahana

Mary Otumahana founded both ‘The RecordShop’ and ‘Prodigies Of Nature’, offering people the chance to get involved in music projects and helping them to break into the music industry. But that’s not all, Mary is a talented rapper, going by the stage name ‘WondRWomN’. We had the opportunity to speak with her…

Thanks for joining us, Mary. How are you?

Hey, Big Music. I’m good, thank you.

Good to hear, what are you currently up to?

Many things! I’m working on my EP under my stage name ‘WondRWomN’, which we plan to record next week and have an EP launch on the 12th May. With my social enterprise, The RecordShop, we are currently seeking sponsorship to help sustain the project which provides young people with a free recording studio programme every Saturday from 3pm to 6pm. We have also set up a crowdfunding fundraiser to help with that. I also have another company called Prodigies Of Nature which I am getting further support from business coaches and mentors to help me progress with.

Wow, you are really busy!

Always, haha!

So, how did you go on to form The RecordShop and Prodigies Of Nature?

In 2015, I was a part-time youth worker and passionate about creating music, so I thought it would be a great idea to combine the two and set up a platform to help support emerging artists through mentorship and work experience opportunities. This is how The RecordShop was established.

Prodigies Of Nature was established around the same time, but what we now do is offer sessions which people pay for and use that to fund The RecordShop. Prodigies Of Nature essentially represents brand, culture and a way of life.

It’s great to see that you are essentially self-funded.

Thanks, Big Music!

Could you talk to us briefly about your rap alter-ego, ‘WondRWomN’?

When I was 15 years old, I went by the name ‘Wonder Kid’. The word ‘wonder’ represented the empowered and heroic feeling I’d get from music. As I got older, my name changed to ‘WondRWomN’, since Wonder Woman is a crucial, yet one of only a few female superheroes. I see a similar reflection of this within the music industry, especially hip-hop.

That is a really deep meaning behind your stage name! So with The RecordShop, how do you market it in a way to relate to your target audience?

I used the networks I was connected to like The Roundhouse in Camden where I was a member. I met a lot of artists within the age group I was targeting. Networking via word of mouth allowed me to get in contact with an online blog site called ‘Wired4Music’, who promoted The RecordShop opportunity. Eventually, The RecordShop developed from word of mouth promotion to people hearing about it online and on my socials.

It seems like networking is key to every person we have interviewed so far!

Networking is definitely crucial.

For sure. What we usually do with all our interviewees is ask some quick-fire questions. Are you ready, Mary?

Sure! Let’s go, Big Music!

Great! If you had to pick between The RecordShop and Prodigies Of Nature, which one organisation would you keep?

Oh wow, that’s difficult! I would have to say Prodigies Of Nature, as the financial aspect of that has helped and would continue to help sustain The RecordShop.

That is a very good answer, that was actually a trick question! Okay, here is an easier one, what is your favourite movie?

I’d probably have to say Black Panther, because it was ground-breaking and represents a lot of things which have been under-represented.

Okay, Netflix or YouTube?

YouTube.

What’s currently on your playlist?

I have been listening to ‘Loyalty’ by Kendrick Lamar ft. Rihanna recently. I’ve also been listening to ‘Billie Jean’ by Michael Jackson and ‘Finesse’ by Bruno Mars ft. Cardi B.

Social media vs word of mouth – which do you prefer?

Word of mouth definitely, but I’m not sure if it’s the most effective method of promotion in this day and age!

You gave some of the best answers we’ve had to be honest! That’s the end of the quick-fire questions.

Thanks, Big Music. I enjoyed that!

We are glad you did. To lead on from the previous question, talk about how word of mouth and social media has impacted The RecordShop and Prodigies Of Nature.

As far as word of mouth goes, it is great because it allows for the opportunity for people to get to know you personally. You are able to form a stronger relationship with people. Social media is also a great source of promotion though of course.

Okay, so how has The RecordShop and Prodigies Of Nature impacted young people?

The young people who have come through The RecordShop programme have gone on to work with other organisations like The National Lottery. Giving young people the opportunity to develop their skills in areas like performing and songwriting has also helped them. The RecordShop is all about motivating young people with their music.

That is definitely admirable. Is there a particular stand-out moment or story for you at all?

There was a young, female singer/songwriter who joined the programme at 16 years old. It was her first time recording any music at that time and we were really impressed with her ability. Through that experience, she won a competition to record in another studio and went on to study music at university. Since then, she has set up her own workshops which help other young people.

That’s a really inspirational story.

The fact that she is helping those behind her is what makes it truly something special.

We couldn’t agree more. Competition is something every organisation faces – how do you deal with this?

What I try to do with The RecordShop is make it as personalised as possible. Anybody can provide free recording sessions, but I make sure the team I work with are used to working with young people, plus we offer mentoring and support.

How do you approach managing your team? Are there any challenges?

Some of the people in my team are people who have worked with me in the past – others have volunteered their time. I think if we all share the same passion for these young people, things generally tend to work.

That is a very good point. What advice would you give to young musicians and entrepreneurs?

I would suggest following what you believe in. Just because something hasn’t been done before, that doesn’t make it impossible. Follow your passions, research, find out the networks who can support your work and help you go further with it and try to broaden your opportunities by attending events and networking. The more opportunities you make for yourself, the higher the chance of you reaching your goals.

That is really great advice. Final question, what do you have planned for your future?

The plan is to release some new music and help to sustain The RecordShop by building on the current team.

Great, we look forward to seeing what you have planned for the future!

Thanks, Big Music.

Mary has many things going on so far and we wish her all the best for the future! Be sure to check out Mary’s online platforms for: