Interview with Kadijat Salawudeen
Hailing from the streets of Brooklyn, Kadijat Salawudeen is currently on the marketing and public relation team at °1824 — a veritical at Universal Music Group that’s responsible for curating strategic and unique experiences for artists across all labels. She got a start in the entertainment field freelancing for Love and Hip Hop and later branched into radio, landing her first internship at Emmis Communication (Hot 97), second at Compound Entertainment (Neyo Management), then began assisting a publicist at Power 105.1.
Kadijat first became attracted to the music industry through her love of singing. Finding she didn't have the talent for it, she searched for another avenue in music and decided on songwriting as she had always been inspired by the way lyrics could tell a story. Since she had no background in music, Kadijat had to figure everything out on her own. Being a self-starter, she set her sights on the music industry and started finding ways to get involved. While she found that songwriting was not an easy career, she still pursued music by going to more events and learning more about the business side of the industry where she really found her passion. Kadijat quickly uncovered the power of networking and rose from there.
Who/what are some of your biggest inspirations?
I’d say some of my biggest inspirations are the people I see making a mark in the music industry. There are some bad-a** women that I see that are really DOING IT, and are not receiving the flowers that they deserve.
Kadijat began honing her craft in public relations, landing a press escort gig at BET, and soon began interning in the PR department at Roc Nation and as a special events intern for Tidal. During this time, she freelanced with Nick Cannon’s Wild N Out, Teen Vogue, and much more. Soon enough she landed a part-time job as Karen Civil’s social media manager, where she created social media posts on her personal accounts and lifestyle (@livecivil).
Now, she’s at Universal Music Group, where she continues to find new and innovative ways to market upcoming artists within the labels. Her day to day consists of pitching publications, building relationships, and much more. Not to mention, she‘s managed to land a seat at the table under the communications department for She Is The Music, a nonprofit curated by Alicia Keys, and some of her closest co-workers/friends. She also runs her own organization called “Girls Who Listen,” a nonprofit dedicated to placing opportunities in the hands of students and creators.
Where did you get the idea for Girls Who Listen?
Girls Who Listen was not intentional. By intentional, I mean, I did not sit down one day and say, “I want to start my business that’s catered to this.” It all began during my first year of grad school, I wanted to shake my experiences up a bit and during undergrad, I didn’t really get a chance to get involved, so I thought this was my moment to do so.
I proposed to a faculty at my university in September 2019 that I wanted to do an event in December. I planned everything, and unfortunately, another student beat me to it. I didn’t want to take the chance of canceling on all the panelists, considering these were connections I made. So instead, I took it to a space in Brooklyn.
I promoted it on socials and had like over 75+ RSVPs. On the day of, after the panel event, everyone was fond of the idea. And honestly, the audience was asking for more. So, I just continued with the idea, then the pandemic hit and it grew a bit bigger than I could imagine.
With students and people asking for more events like this, Girls Who Listen unintentionally became a reality.
From her own experience and from those around her, Kadijat realized how intimidating the music industry can be and wanted to be able to bring opportunities to other young women like herself. Girls Who Listen creates a community for women interested in the industry to network and support each other. The music industry can be all about who you know, but with Girls Who Listen, Kadijat wanted to break that cycle and make more opportunities accessible to women who were putting in the effort to find out about what’s out there.
“Figuring out where I belong is one of my biggest obstacles… I’m constantly trying to figure out my niche, in an effort to disrupt the status quo.”
Of course, with every great idea, comes great challenges. The music industry is constantly buzzing with new innovations, new music, and new people. It can be difficult to find your place, as Kadijat states, “Figuring out where I belong is one of my biggest obstacles… I’m constantly trying to figure out my niche, in an effort to disrupt the status quo.”
While there are many challenges, Kadijat has also made great strides with Girls Who Listen. The organization has expanded its reach, and its impact can be felt by anyone who knows about it. Still in the growing stages, Girls Who Listen is continuously bringing positive change to the music industry.
How has the development of Girls Who Listen surprised you?
Just going back to the whole idea of people knowing about the organization is mind-blowing to me. Sometimes I’m in my own bubble and don’t believe I’m doing enough, especially since we don’t have the backing of a major celebrity or label to advocate for the mission. The thought that everything is being built from the ground up also makes it that much more worthwhile.
Kadijat’s goal for Girls Who Listen is to keep increasing the number of women in the music industry by 15%. Through collaborating with similar organizations, Girls Who Listen aims to make this goal a reality.
What song do you have on repeat right now?
Right now “He Say, She Say” by Mulatto. Really gives me a different type of energy.
What's something you've never done before that you want to?
This is random, but I’d love to be a talk show host on television. I’ve always done it with artists on Zoom. But I just think it will be fun. I always feel awkward hosting conversations, but yeah, if there’s anyone looking for a day host — count me in.
What's the most interesting thing you've read or seen this week?
I read a portion of 50 Cent’s book ‘Hustle Harder.’ It really changed my perspective of him and the way that he thinks. I already thought he was a genius, but reading it, made me want to literally, hustle harder.
Who would you want to play you in a movie about your life?
WOW. Who am I??? I don’t even know honestly. Honestly, any executive that’s killing it in the music industry right now. Anyone who has the ability to portray my husks can play me. No names come to mind.
What is one piece of advice you have for womxn looking to get into the music industry or start their own organizations?
Just do it and make everything that you do - intentional.
Check Out this Playlist Curated by Kadijat on Spotify and Apple Music.