Rishma Dhaliwal

Whilst the music industry is slowly becoming a space for more women to enter, in many ways we still have a very long way to go.

This article aims to highlight women in creative and music space to encourage others to do the same. Our first spotlight is with Rishma Dhaliwal. She is a journalist, writer, PR and marketing consultant from London.

With over 10 years experience in the media and the music industry she has successfully founded I AM HIP HOP MAGAZINE, started her own marketing brand and co-founded No Bounds a charity that seeks to empower young people. A true inspiration to everyone she meets, we sit down with Rishma to discuss what it’s like to work in the hip hop industry as a woman, the perception that is often seen and how she believes we can continue to inspire women to enter the industry.

How did you come up with the concept of your business?

I Am Hip Hop Magazine initially started as a project of a non-profit organisation I was a part of. The aim of it was to create a platform that embraced the roots of the Hip-Hop and all the elements of the culture. The magazine is a voice for the voiceless, and a medium to promote positive Hip-Hop and articles on issues that matter in society that I feel was missing from the mainstream agenda. We have articles uploaded daily and a yearly print edition. The print magazine is a nice compact size (roll up and put in your back-pocket size) and we are blessed to have so many amazing writers and contributors. I Am Hip-Hop Magazine is a brand that has branched out into radio, events, PR and media partnerships.

What has pushed you to keep pursuing it?

The positive feedback I constantly receive! We have been so lucky to have some of the greats of Hip-hop read the magazine and help endorse it. We have been given access to interview so many admirable people from the Hip-Hop community from the likes of Phife Dawg, Pharaohe Monch, Dead Prez, Immortal Technique, Onyx, Ghetts, The Last Poets, Akala, Freddie Gibbs, Jazzy Jeff – the list is endless! Also in this digital era, print media is so rare, so I truly believe with that in mind and our content in print and online we are strong independent media brand. The writers involved have also been given an opportunity to showcase their amazing skills, interview legends and review so many gigs and new music. There is too much love to not pursue it.

Have you ever wanted to give up at any stage?

Give up. No. Need more help or a break – Yes! As the magazine is self-funded and managed, it is hard to run on a day to day basis. As I work full time for a Bollywood TV channel which is equally as busy, It means the hustle is hard. There are days where I feel I could be doing so much more with the brand, at which point I have to remind myself that I am doing as much as I can. When we have a great article out, a new print issue or a successful event it reminds me why I wouldn’t want to stop and it inspires me to know that though the pace isn’t as fast as I would like it the brand will get bigger and better.

Being a woman in the music industry, have you had any issues along the way?

I think general assumptions about a girl running a Hip-Hop magazine is probably the most difficult, not being taken so seriously on some occasions and having to prove myself a little more. However, these issues are very minor and I have met some very encouraging and helpful people in the Hip-Hop community.

How can we encourage more women to enter the industry?

We are already doing it! Through networking, mentoring and inspiring girls on a daily basis. I think the media and music industry has so many amazing “boss women” in it and young girls have so many positive role models. We just have to make ourselves heard. In a world that celebrates reality tv stars, it is important to make a noise as a woman if you are doing something positive, especially in the creative industry. Smart, driven, hard-working and passionate women are needed to guide and inspire the next generation.

What advice would you give to others who want to do the same thing?

Start! Don’t overthink – we live in an era where we can turn our passion into a brand within a few hours. We have the technological tools to create, share, and build – we can even be global! Trial and error are important if you have a brand you want to build don’t be afraid to start and learn along the way. Go to as many networking events as possible, meet people in the industry, take advantage of free courses and talks that go on. 

What’s the one thing you’ve learnt that now that you would have told yourself when you first started your company?

Take your time, this industry can make you feel like everything is one big competition when really and truly the emphasis on ‘perception’ in the creative industry is a lot higher than ‘production’ at times. It can be made to feel like a rat race, but don’t procrastinate, enjoy the journey and map out a plan of how you want your business to grow. Set out realistic goals that allow you the time and energy to keep enjoying this journey.

You can catch Rishma talking at SYS Boss Lady Workshop Panel at Grow, Hackney on the 24th March starting at 7pm. Event details can be seen on SYS Facebook page.

Instagram @iamhiphopmagazine