By Patti Swayne
Kiwan Anderson is the Founder and Managing Partner of A-Plus Events, LLC based in Los Angeles. With the bulk of his career spent in luxury brands, he has traveled the world producing events and managing public relations for Sony Music, The Source magazine, and Nike Communications. He has proven his talent is tapping into hidden potential, and creating bigger narratives for talented people and brands.
You’re from Brooklyn, tell me a little bit about how that molded you.
I was born and raised in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and it was an amazing time to grow up around young Black artists and musicians. I actually grew up living on the same block as Biggie Smalls, and Total lived around the corner. I would come home from school on the subway and Biggie and Puff would be shooting a music video on the steps of the Fulton stop. It sparked in me the need to be in music and entertainment somehow.
So how did you end up working in the music business?
I started as an intern in A&R at MCA Records; the first project I worked on was Mary j. Blige’s album, Share My World. From there I networked nonstop, I always wanted to know everyone and make myself known. It was through amazing relationships that I landed my first job out of school as a Publicity Assistant at Arista Records—I worked on Usher’s 8701 and Pink’s debut album, Can’t Take Me Home.
Why did you decide to go in business for yourself?
I woke up one day and realized my talents were being underutilized and I was underpaid. There were other things I wanted to do and I wanted the freedom to work creatively without going through a matrix. I’ve worked in corporate and out of corporate and I’m at a place in my life where I don’t want or need to be told what to do.
What sacrifices have you had to make for success?
I’ve had to take pay cuts to get the positions I wanted, and it happens more often than people think depending on the opportunity. By traveling constantly on business, I’ve missed birthdays, family time—things you can’t get back; and it’s really hard to date and keep relationships.
You’ve been fortunate to see the world. What is your favorite country or city to visit?
Bermuda. It’s my mom’s homeland, and I spent much of my childhood there—holidays and summer camp. I was fortunate to grow up in Brooklyn and Bermuda, I have amazing memories of both.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would be a little bit more patient, I would also advise him to pay closer attention to what people were not saying more than what they were saying. And don’t take anything personally, 90% of the time it’s not about you!