After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2010 (emphasis broadcast journalism), Dani Thompson went on to build her own company in the music and entertainment industry. She founded DNT, an artist management and development agency, in 2013. DNT is named after Dani’s initials (Dani Nicole Thompson)
However, it wasn't a direct road to becoming the president and CEO of her own company. She worked on The Young & The Restless at CBS while she was getting her degree. From there she worked at other studios such as ReAmp Recording Studios and the OC Hit Factory. Even now she wears many hats in addition to CEO, including A&R, artist manager, music photographer, music video producer/director, entertainment publicist, website developer, brand consultant, talent buyer and artist development expert.
Dani took the time to answer some questions about her career. Below is the Q&A.
How did DNT Entertainment come about?
I started DNT Entertainment in 2013 shortly after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a BS in Communications/Broadcast Journalism. I have always had a love for music and a passion for helping others and knew that with my network and experience in the industry I would be able to provide great value and be a resource for aspiring singer/songwriters and emerging artists.
Over the past 8 years my business has emerged just as an artists career does. I started out initially providing management, publicity and music consulting services, and then realized the need for and lack of artist development support for emerging artists which prompted me to find a solution to fill that void. With this realization I decided to dedicate many of my early career years to learning the skill set to provide my talent with the tools they needed to build a successful business of their own. I built my business by identifying a demand in an area I knew and by finding a way to service that demand. My business was not built with money…In fact to this day I have never taken out a loan. It was built with an abundant amount of passion, sacrifice and hard work. DNT Entertainment eventually grew into a Company that provides music education, network resources, paid performance opportunities for talent, content creation services (photography, music videos etc), songwriter and music producer pairing, A&R, artist management, publicity support, tour support and artist development services primarily to young artists (13-25) in the Pop, Indie, Alternative and Country Singer/Songwriter genres. The opportunities we provide for artists empower them to build successful independent music businesses without signing away all creative control over their projects. In this day and age 40% of all global streaming revenue goes to independent artists and over 1/2 of all grammy nominees are independent. That is the 1/2 that I/we provide support to/for.
How did you become the Founder & President of A&R?
I identified a lack of and need for niche artist development services to support unsigned talent in the music industry and my heart and passion eventually lead me to build DNT Entertainment from the ground up (“DNT” are my initials; Dani Nichole Thompson). As “Founder” of the Company the title I feel into naturally followed.
What made you want to work in the music/entertainment industry?
I spent the better part of my childhood and teen years as an artist myself and lead vocalist for a non-profit organization called Fender's Kids Rock Free Music School, which was backed by industry greats such as Steve Miller and Paul Rogers. We put on many benefit concerts at The Fender Museum in Corona, CA during my time there in an effort to raise money so low income families could send their children for free and low cost music lessons. Assisting creators is the way I was brought up in the industry and it became a passion that has never left me.
How did your classes & time spent at CSUF guide you to your current career?
My time spent at CSUF shaped every part of my current career. I was the first one in my immediate family to graduate from a University with a Bachelor of Science Degree. Accomplishing this and seeing education all the way through gave me the confidence to start my own business and to never give up as tough as it may get. I will forever be grateful to my family for financially and emotionally supporting me through college and to CSUF for giving me not only that confidence to start DNT but the skill set to back it. My ability to write, report, edit and effectively communicate were all shaped by the education I received at CSUF.
What would you say is the coolest thing about your job/career?
I get to wake up every day doing what I love; If you love what you do you will never work a day in your life. The coolest thing about my “job” is helping others realize their dreams and seeing my contributions to the music industry motivate and inspire others to do what they love. Music is a universal language that bonds the human race together in the best and worst of times and brings healing, hope and peace to the world and to be a part of that in any way is pretty cool if you ask me!
What's the biggest piece of advice on life after college that you can give to current students?
Don’t take a job just for the money. You will never be happy if you chase that. Follow your heart and find a job (or create a job) doing something that fuels your spirit and makes you want to wake up every day. The money will eventually follow. Stay true to yourself, be humble, work hard, be honest, don’t bite off more than you can chew; it’s better to under-commit and over-deliver than to make promises you can’t keep.
After the Q&A session, Dani added that she is in the process of starting a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization called "Mom's in Music." The organization will be donation based and grant funded with the goal of providing scholarships for emerging artists. Mom's in Music will strive to bond women in music together. It also serves as a platform for moms who need a network and roadmap to help their kids to realize their dreams.