Dan Kanter’s accomplishments are both prolific and diverse. With a wide range of talents, not limited to composing and playing for Justin Bieber, Dan also directs the band, coaches the performers and is part of the creative team that designs the tours everywhere they go. Having written over 500 songs to date and his own production company and recording studio, check out why Dan won the Notable Sports and Entertainment award in today’s YPDaily…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am the musical director and guitarist for Justin Bieber. I’ve also had the great fortune to work with Stevie Wonder, Santana, Usher, Miley Cyrus, Drake, Boyz II Men, and other incredible performers. As well, I write and produce music in the studio – I am presently pursuing a publishing deal. I had the amazing opportunity of co-producing Justin’s album “My Worlds Acoustic”. I’m also trying to break into the world of music-related reality TV shows. I was a guest mentor with Justin on “X-Factor Germany”, featured as a finalist producer and mentor on YTV’s “Next Star 4”, and as a guest guru on Much Music’s “Much: Discovered”
What was the inspiration for this career route?
I always knew I wanted to pursue music and as much as I’ve always loved performing, I was also very interested in the behind-the-scenes. My father directs musicals so at a young age I was fascinated with not just music, but how music can work with lights, dancing, staging, effects, costumes etc. I am addicted to going to concerts – I’ve been to 500-plus shows – so I have a huge bank of ideas when working on a song, designing music for a show, or coaching a performer.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
For the last several years the best part of what I do on a day-to-day basis is getting to travel the world with a great team and play huge concerts for kids who are unbelievably excited to see them. The energy we get onstage from their happiness is unexplainable. I also love exploring new places and especially trying new food. The challenge of course is being away from home for extended periods of time. However, at the moment I am spending the next few months writing and recording songs in my studio OneTwentyTwo, so I am home full-time which is great.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Celebrating the 5-year anniversary of answering this question. (Mitch Hedberg). In 5 years I hope to still be touring with Justin as his musical director and guitarist, and hope to be busy writing songs and producing records for as many artists – from as many genres – as possible. Back in 2000 I co-wrote a full-length musical. When I have time, I would love to write another one.
What does success look like to you?
Success to me is being able to pursue my passion and make a living doing so. It is not monetary or measured in professional accomplishments; but being able to take care of my family AND follow my passion, is success to me.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
My best memory of my career (and possibly of my entire my life so far) was without a doubt performing the Israeli National Anthem on electric guitar at Justin’s concert in Tel Aviv, Israel. I guess the most memorable milestones in my career thus far would be achieving some of my high school dreams – these included playing on Saturday Night Live, performing for 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium in London, UK, and getting an endorsement deal with Gibson Guitars. Also, a significant milestone for me was co-producing Justin’s album My Worlds Acoustic.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
The best advice I have is to set short and long term goals and work hard to achieve them. This includes a repetition of traditional education and experience but also non-traditional networking and hustle. The internet has changed the game and its possibilities of social networking are endless. I have a colleague who got a huge gig with an A-list artist by friending the drummer on Facebook. I also think it’s important to strike while the iron’s hot and diversify as much as possible within one’s field. Lastly, I think it’s incredibly important to surround yourself not only with good people, but with cutting-edge thinkers and ambitious professionals. Justin’s manager Scooter Braun is a brilliant visionary and Allison Kaye from his management team is strikingly smart. I’ve learned so much from just being around them.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
With Justin I have been involved in several charities including Free The Children, Pencils Of Promise, The Grammy Foundation, and BETs Benefit concert for Haiti. Pencils of Promise is an important charity to me. I am close with the foundation’s founder so I truly believe in it and know first hand the difference it is making. Pencils of Promise also successfully informs and inspires kids – the next generation – to be involved. Most recently Justin and I, with Ellen Degeneres’ charity, performed for Christmas at an underprivileged school in Nevada. Justin donated 100K worth of toys. Being there first hand and seeing what it meant to those kids was unforgettable. We also recently performed a benefit concert at Toronto’s Massey Hall to raise money for Justin’s “Believe” charity. Aside from his talent, Justin is a special and inspiring human being. I truly commend him, and his manager Scooter Braun, for all of the charity work that they do. I’m grateful I get to be involved – even if just strumming along.
What to you is notable?
I think young people making a difference is notable. I am lucky to be part of an incredible team of young professionals that is truly making a difference in the world – whether it is through charity work, or simply just spreading happiness with music.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Blackberry since the original, but I will have switched to iPhone by the time this interview is posted.