Welcome to A2IM’s Featured Executive column, where we highlight executives making moves and supporting the growth of the independent community. To submit yourself or a friend for a potential feature, fill out this form.
From rapper to manager to entrepreneur, Riliwan Founded First One Up, a label and management company, in 2015.
Hey Riliwan! Can you tell us about how you got your start in the music industry, and how it lead to the work you do today?
I started in music as a rapper and performer, but my orientation and my curiosity was probably more suited for behind the scenes work. At the sunset of my rap career, my friend Dot asked me to manage him. He was grateful to me for introducing him to Kid Cudi, which ultimately led to them making “Day N Nite” together. I’ve learned and grown so much from doing management work. It has allowed me to gain exposure to so many corners of the music industry.
Are there any projects you’re working on or company updates that you’re most excited about?
I am super excited that my company has forged partnerships with companies like Cool World and Createsafe. These are web3 focused music and culture companies all working to make the music business more equitable for artists and creators. We are ushering in a new age of music business, we have coined music3. We went from Physical to Digital, and now my partners and I are ushering in meta experiential.
Is there a success story or career milestone that you are most proud of?
A success story that comes top of mind would be our first #1 record on the billboard hot one hundred, “The Scotts” with Travis Scott and Kid Cudi. Working on that song with friends and it being an event inside of Fortnite was so futuristic to me.
What’s some music you’ve been listening to lately?
I’ve been obsessed with this song called “Key Star” out of South Africa by Focalistic and Virgo Deep. Another Dope song from south Africa that I actually put out is “Cherry Enje by KXD Beats and Money Ostrich.
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A2IM is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade organization headquartered in New York City that exists to support and strengthen the independent recorded music sector. Membership currently includes a broad coalition of more than 700 Independently-owned American music labels. A2IM represents these independently owned small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) interests in the marketplace, in the media, on Capitol Hill, and as part of the global music community. In doing so, it supports a key segment of America’s creative class that represents America’s diverse musical cultural heritage. Billboard Magazine identified the Independent music label sector as 37.32 percent of the music industry’s U.S. recorded music sales market in 2016 based on copyright ownership, making Independent labels collectively the largest music industry sector.