Industry advice:KAIYA MILAN
Editor: Lauren Demir
Photos: David Franco
Collages: Annie Mcgill
We met up with Kaiya Milan, manager to both Kojey Radical and Zulu as well as founder of Sorority House, at spoken word Boiler Room. The charming, enthusiastic, 22 year old has achieved a lot already in a short amount of time. She credits her success to her perspective towards life, “It’s having a childlike attitude to things. Like ‘Oh I want to be a princess,’ and then you walk around the house with your princess hat on. Thats me, like Okay, I’m going to do a festival so I go and do a festival. Why would I just sit there and think about it?” This may sound bizarre to just start a festival, but this go getter attitude has worked very well for her. Her first event Female Boss sold out, the all female festival was a major success and her artist Kojey Radical was nominated for both a Rated and MOBO award this year.
She even met and worked with one of her 3 idols, Karen Civil, her other 2 are Oprah and Maya Angelo She recalls how it happened, “She's amazing, last year someone told me you remind me of Karen Civil. When she came to the UK I ended up doing an event with her. I hosted an industry networking brunch to meet her. It was like I’m not just meeting you I’m part of your event and it was crazy.” Kaiya makes her success sound easy as she lists them one after the other, but its down to hard work and perseverance how she has achieved so much “If you want to do anything work hard, it doesn't matter what industry you’re in.” She shared her story and some advice for those who want to be managers and want to get involved in music.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO THE BUSINESS?
I went to an event Kojey was performing at, met his band and one of them wanted me to get on board as an admin officer for their company called Music Mind. I ended up becoming a manager and an executive there and managed a roster of like 15 musicians. I started working for Kojey in the background. Kojey didn’t know me at all. I did a show which he performed at and someone introduced me and said “This is the person who has been doing all the stuff for you behind the scenes.” We ended up having a meeting and a conversation and he was like I want you to be part of the team. Here we are now, I manage Kojey Radical.
I realise an artist manager is whatever you are to the artist. You do the part that the artist needs. With Kojey I don’t have to do a lot of the creative side because he covers that. I do a lot of the admin stuff which doesn't like doing. I do alot of the business partnerships, relationships, and stuff like that. I think its whatever you need to be for that specific person. Its like a relationship, you don’t have the same relationship with every single person. It has to be dependant on what the person needs. I manage another artist called Zulu he needs different things then Kojey.
Manager to manager tips
What do you bring to the table
Work out what you have to offer. There are so many different avenues within music, you can work in publishing you can work in a label, marketing or production. Ask yourself what do you bring to the table in anything.
Have thick skin
Do you have the strength to be in this industry because it’s cut throat. You have to come in there and know who you are. Especially as a young manager, people will try to break you down like you don’t know what you’re talking about or you're not experienced.
Believe in your artist
Determination, you have to have confidence. You have to be like 'My artist is amazing I don’t care you're going to have him on your show.' You have to know what level your artist it at, how do you know that? At first I’d be like oh you want to pay £250 for a show, now its like £250 for a show, no.
Be able to adapt
Everyday is different. I’ve interacted with 70 people today since I’ve woken up and I probably have 20 more to interact with before I go to sleep. 90 people, 90 different personalities with different reasons for contacting you. It’s tiring and you have to be that kind of person who can deal with that. You have to be able to adapt.
Manager to Artist tips
Find out what you need
Work out what you can do on your own first. Know what you can do yourself, know where your weaknesses lie and what you need. It might just be someone that can give you the confidence, you might have a best friend that can do that. Your manager does what you need them to do.
Find someone who believes in you
It has to be organic. If an artist is looking for a manager saying ‘I need a manager’ then you’re going to find a manager that says ‘I need an artist.’ You’re not going to find a manager that says ‘I really believe in you.’
wHAT ARE YOUR EVENTS ABOUT?
Our monthly events called Female Boss Fridays, our yearly events Goodess festival and our weekly event is called the Sorority Circle which is a power circle, a really intimate power circle and we’re going strong.
Sorority house is a collective for women in the creative industries to come together, sharing knowledge, power, networking. Also trying to really install a mentality of sisterhood. In this industry I didn’t meet any women for so long so I started an event called Women In Music last April and that went really well, it completely sold out.
I really wanted to do a female music festival so I started a festival called Goddess Fest. We did our first and it went amazingly well. We had 25 artists all female all day at Box Park and then we had the evening at Cargo in Shoreditch. Next year we’re going to be doing a whole take over in Stratford as well, that should be really cool.
If you don’t ask you don’t get. Theres a whole group of people who ask and a whole group of people who don’t ask the people who ask for favours are doing a lot better in life. Its never really a favour if you can give someone something in return. I did my women in music event, a couple people said no and now there like ‘Oh i’m buying a ticket to your event.’ It’s okay if people say no because they will watch your journey regardless, they’ll still follow you on social media, they’ll be like who is this person.