Twenty two year old Kaiya Milan is the founder of Women In Music UK, an organization that aims to connect and empower women in the music industry through networking events and mutual support. She saw how women were being overlooked in the business aspect of the industry and wasn’t having any of it, which is where her inspiration for an all-girl collective came from. The last couple of years have seen a string of Women In Music UK events sell out and inspire the next generation of female tastemakers in the British music scene.
Kaiya finished up her degree in Journalism and Media Law last year, while working her way up the career ladder to become a Music Management Executive at MusiqMind. She started out managing solo instrumentalists and bands to figure out her strengths and went on to do consultations and manage projects for various artists and brands. She helped to secure significant supporting slots for her new artists at concerts for well-known artists like Omarion and helps them to raise their profiles enough for their music to chart highly on iTunes.
During her time in the industry, Miss Milan has worked with the likes of Adidas, Apple, Beats, Live Nation and Dr Martins among others. She is currently a freelance consultant and project manager, as well as the manager of upcoming poet/musician Kojey Radical and vocalist/rapper Zulu. Kojey’s 23 Winters EP hit the top 3 on the iTunes Hip Hop chart on the day of its release and Zulu is working on his debut EP following last year’s tour. She also presents the breakfast show entitled Mornings Unfiltered on London’s Radar Radio.
There isn’t much this girl can’t do and through her organization she is proving that for other women in music that glass ceiling isn’t all that hard to obliterate, especially when you come together.
Grab your tickets to Kaiya’s next branding workshop tomorrow (May 24) here.
Working as a female music manager in the industry, do you find that you are taken less seriously than your male counterparts? If so, why do you think that is?
I wouldn’t say that I am taken less seriously, however, I would say that I do have to work harder to prove myself as a manager. Most people are more inclined to view me as a girlfriend or PA [rather] than a manager; therefore I almost have to work twice as hard to be respected in my role.
The business side of the music industry has always been very male dominated. How can we move away from this boy’s club mentality?
I think this boy’s club mentality is slowly on the decline anyway. I believe, in order to work on equality, it is extremely important to build a sisterhood among the women in the music industry. I have experienced a lot more competition among women, and not the friendly kind. I think this is due to the fact that women are often pitted against each other. There are usually limited positions open to us, therefore we are less inclined to build those support networks to help each other. [This is] similar to the problems [that] minorities face.
Considering the sisterhood you hope to emulate with your organization, do you feel pressure to work with more female artists as a manager?
I don’t feel that Women in Music UK puts pressure [on me] to work with more female artists. I manage those that I believe in. Also, I feel there is something very empowering about women managing male artists, so there is never a conflict there. In the future I do intend to manage more female artists, but only when the time is right and the right artist comes along.
Which female artists in the US and the UK are you feeling at the moment?
In the UK, I am currently feeling NAO, Nadia Rose, Ms Banks, Mira May and probably loads more that I can’t think of at the moment. In the US, I’d definitely have to say Dej Loaf, Bibi Bourelly (even though she’s German, she’s working out of LA), Tink and Alessia Cara.
Talk us through what typically goes on at one of your Women In Music UK events?
The best thing about Women in Music UK is that all of our events are different. Our first event in 2015 was a huge debate with over 100 attendees and twelve panelists. We had performances, goodie bags and lots more! Our official launch was an amazing showcase with over ten artists on the line up, over 400 attendees and two live bands. More recently, we had an event at the Apple Store [in] Covent Garden, which sold out in under four hours and was an intimate panel discussion with Q&A. Our latest monthly social event has just sold out and is called #FemaleBossFriday. This will be a chilled networking event with pizza, wine and good conversation amongst female bosses in the music industry.
You have also started doing workshops on branding. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the music industry about finding their niche?
I would say it’s not about searching for your niche, but finding a sound that is true to who you are and who you’re trying to be in this industry. Even if you end up sounding like somebody else, it is important to remember that you as an artist are a product. A Walmart body spray and a Chanel perfume could smell exactly the same, but it’s how they are bottled and branded that sets them apart. Some artists use their music to set them apart from the rest [and] some artists build their brands instead.
What does the rest of 2016 hold for you and Women In Music UK?
2016 has already been a busy year! I have more workshops and talks on navigating your way in the music industry coming up soon. I have added some new artists to my roster, who are yet to be announced. I am also working on expanding my artist consultation [services] and working internationally.
Women in Music UK are currently working on becoming more of a collective of females in the industry, rather than just another company that puts on events. We want to get to know each of our members and build a sisterhood network of women who consistently support each other honestly and openly.