In the cut throat world of the music industry every artist needs some direction. Despite what it may look like, no one really makes it on their own. Any artist will tell you about the team they had behind them or that one key person who put them onto a show or event that helped them reach a new level. For myself, one of those key people is DT The Artist, who is based in Toronto, Canada. DT has been in the musical game for 18 years now, performing various roles such as artist developer, manager and event organizer to name a few.
For DT, his artistic journey begins back in his high school days; he earned his name DT (Deep Thoughts) when he unexpectedly dropped a dope freestyle at a talent show which left everyone surprised. From that moment he started to work on and off towards becoming an MC. DT got his first taste of the industry when he met dancehall singer, Spice, through connections and started to intern for her. It was through that work opportunity that DT was able to see the bigger picture and what he could actually get done for people behind the scenes. Shortly after this he decided to enroll in the Music Business Administration program at George Brown College where he learned artist management and music industry arts. This was a defining moment for him because this is where he learned how to set proper pricing for performances and what to look for in an artist to take on as a client to manage.
I would say that things really began to pick up for DT when he moved to New York City in 2003. Although he just went to visit some family, he ended up staying for a whole year because of the way he was being embraced as an artist. DT expressed to me that things move very quickly in America for artists because of a few key differences. Here in Canada there are a lot of opportunities for artists to be funded for their projects i.e. music videos, demos, marketing campaigns, etc. However, those opportunities don’t come by so easily in the states so artists really have to be on a serious grind.
Here’s a little list describing the difference between Toronto and New York artists as told to me by DT:
- Acts as an individual
- More dependent on grants
- Slower to react to opportunities
- Aren’t investing properly in themselves (photos, quality production, press kit)
- Artists still in development act like celebrities
- Acts as a team
- Friends actively take on roles to help artists succeed
- Have their branding ready/packaged to go
- Invests in self and each other
- Artists will invest their own finances since there aren’t grant opportunities
- Will put themselves on through various events
After a great year in New York filled with paid shows in the city, Philadelphia, Connecticut and other places, DT decided to move back to Toronto to get his own business off the ground. After several successes in the city with developing artists and providing publicist services, DT was invited to St. Maarten to perform at Style Diva in 2008. Style Diva was a conference and fashion show organized by Shereen Ashman, and DT headlined the culminating All White Party. Since then he has been traveling back and forth to the island and is currently managing a group called 4DH. Through his connection with Mr. 4DH (a member of the group), DT has access to all of the music industry in St. Maarten. This access has allowed him to perform alongside big names such as Chris Martin and Kes the Band. DT was even set to open for Migos until they got into some legal drama. Currently he is working as an artist developer for the City of Toronto at the Ground Up program. This program houses a studio and offers a curriculum that teaches artist development, support on writing grants and key music industry tips. Between DT and the engineer/producer who run the program, participants have the chance to meet key players in the Canadian music industry, but that’s only if they’ve been working hard enough on their goals. If you complete the program and manage to impress with not only your performance skills, but also your program knowledge and attitude, a call could be made that will change your life.
Speaking of goals, DT has been hitting the mark left, right and center with his; he’s releasing 2 albums and a mixtape this year and has a ton of upcoming performances. DT’s album “Stadium Music”, produced by 220 on the Beat will be released in June; he will release his second album of the year, “Raise Your Glass” with producer No Long Talking in August and will release his mixtape “No Days Off” with producer Church Boy Beatz sometime after. It’s definitely a lot for one year, but each project has a different purpose and feel. “Stadium Music” is more anthemic and has a more TV/commercial vibe; “Raise Your Glass” is about the party life; and “No Days Of” is all about the hustle. DT has a lot more planned for this year, such as headlining carnival events in the Caribbean, a European tour and is still on the lookout for new talent to mold. This definitely goes to show that hard work will pay off, so keep on hustling artists!