Employee #1 interview: Toon Keymeulen

Employee #1 interview: Toon Keymeulen

Remember the founders series?
We introduced the 3 founders; Metalhead,
Elias, Music business expert, Hans and Seventies Rocker Jonathan.
The Pack grew up quite a bit since those early days, so we asked employee number one Toon-Machine-Learning-Keymeulen the same questions.
Here we go!

What is your relation to music?

Music, to me, is a part of my daily routine, like a good friend who's always there. It helps me tune into my mood or sometimes gives me a different perspective when I need it. There's something comforting about having the right music for whatever I'm feeling or doing at the time.

My relationship with music is pretty relaxed. When I find a new song or artist that catches my attention, I add them to my “Liked Songs” playlist on Spotify. These tracks are my go-to for a while, playing in the background as I go about my day, until they gradually blend into the longer list and make room for new discoveries. It's a simple cycle, but each song leaves its mark, reminding me of different times in my life.

Reggae music holds a special place for me. It's a genre I've always connected with, a sentiment I share with my dad. My music taste doesn't stop there, though. I enjoy a range from UK Garage and Jungle to various forms of Hip Hop and popular hits. I'm open to different types of music, and Spotify’s "Discover Weekly" and "Song Radio" are great for stumbling upon new stuff without putting in too much effort.

I also appreciate live music. Attending a concert or a small gig can be a nice change of pace. It's not just about hearing the music but also about being part of the atmosphere and seeing how others enjoy it too.

In short, music for me is a simple pleasure, a part of my everyday life that keeps things interesting. It's not something I overthink; I just enjoy it as it comes, song by song.

Give us some examples please

I tend to forget names easily, but there are a few artists who've really stood out for me. Protoje was a favorite for a long time, and I listened to his music a lot over the past 10 years. More recently, Marcus Gad has caught my attention, especially with his impressive live performances. Other artists who consistently uplift me include Alborosie, Chronixx, Jesse Royal, Mellow Mood, and Kabaka Pyramid. I also enjoy listening to Nekfeu, Flatbush Zombies, and Jack Harlow.

To business!

Why did you join The Pack?

My decision to join was driven by several factors.
First, this is my first job in what I found to be an exceptionally exciting project. The founders really stood out to me; they're not only understanding and inspiring but also bring a wealth of knowledge that I believe I can learn a lot from, both as a software developer and as a person.

Additionally, the opportunity to work in the music industry, a field I've always found fascinating, was too good to pass up. It adds a layer of coolness to the work I'm doing.

Lastly, being part of a startup in its early stages offers a unique learning environment. I'm excited about the broad range of experiences I'll gain in such a dynamic setting, where I can grow in multiple aspects of my career and contribute meaningfully.

What’s the impact The Pack can make on the music industry?

I really think The Pack can shake things up in the music industry. We're all about taking the pain out of the financial side of things – think less number crunching, more music making. With our machine learning tricks up our sleeve, we're not just cutting down on the tedious stuff. We're also digging up smarter ways for folks in the industry to work and thrive. It's all about making things smoother and opening doors to new possibilities. That's the kind of impact we're aiming for.

Why are you the right person to join the pack?

I'm a good fit for The Pack because I'm all about teamwork and growing together. I have a background in AI and software development, and I'm keen to put these skills to good use in our projects. I like the live music industry and I'm flexible with my role in the team. I'm just looking forward to doing my part, learning as we go, and helping us all succeed.

What’s your unique role in The Pack?

My unique role at The Pack is leading our machine learning and data science initiatives. I'm responsible for developing a recommendation engine to optimize tour budgets and provide strategic market advantages. This involves creating benchmarks and reporting systems, and implementing machine learning to flag improvements in real-time. Right now, I'm working on simplifying data entry through document OCR to enhance data accuracy and efficiency. My role is dynamic, encompassing everything from strategic data use to hands-on development of smart solutions and user experiences, all aimed at transforming the live music industry. As the first data-focused hire, I'm collaborating closely with a top ML consulting agency to accelerate our progress.

Since starting the pack, what has been the...

...funniest anecdote?

One of the funniest things I've encountered while working remotely with The Pack involves our online meetings. Jonathan, one of our team members, is quite expressive and often uses his hands while explaining things. The amusing part is that his gestures inadvertently trigger the gesture reactions of macOS Sonoma, like fireworks and thumbs-ups, during his serious explanations. It's unintentional but always adds a light-hearted moment to our meetings, making his detailed explanations a lot more entertaining :)

...biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge in my role as the sole ML expert at The Pack is maintaining a balance between staying abreast of the latest ML trends and focusing on our current projects. The ML field is rapidly evolving, with exciting developments like LLM agents, multimodality, and RAG constantly emerging. While these advancements offer potential benefits for our product, it's crucial not to get sidetracked. I often find myself intrigued by these new possibilities, yet I have to ensure that we stay on track with our planned executions. Keeping focused on the task at hand, while integrating relevant and beneficial innovations, is a delicate but essential part of my role.

...biggest lesson learnt?

An important thing is to stay focussed on the task at hand, and how to move towards a goal as efficient and fast as possible. Jonathan's extensive experience has been crucial in this regard. He has a knack for keeping me on track, especially when the wide array of possibilities in machine learning can be overwhelming. His ability to steer projects in the right direction without stifling innovation has been a key factor in my professional development. Additionally, working with all three founders has been a valuable learning experience. They each bring different strengths and perspectives to the table, which has broadened my understanding of our business and my role within it.

Thank you! Any last words?

Just like a good machine learning model, we're always learning and adapting. If you've got any thoughts, ideas, or just want to chat about the wild world of music (or even machine learning), drop me a line at toon.keymeulen@partofthepack.com.
Who knows, your email might just be the data point that leads to our next big breakthrough!