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News October 27, 2015

Hot Seat: Daniel Glass – Glassnote Entertainment

Daniel Glass has something of a Midas touch. It seems everything he signs turns to a precious metal — usually Platinum. Glass is the founder and president of Glassnote, one of the most important independent music companies in the United States. A DJ early in his career, Glass had a hand in the careers of Huey Lewis, Billy Idol, Wilson Phillips, Sinead O’Connor , Blur and Vanilla Ice and went on to run major labels. But he’s always remained “indie” at heart. Glassnote was launched in 2007 and has a roster with an international flavour — with the likes of Phoenix (France), Mumford & Sons and Chvrches (Britain), Robert DeLong (USA) and The Temper Trap (Australia). He was also ranked No. 11 on The Hollywood Reporter’s list of pop’s 35 top hitmakers and he recently made Billboard’s Power 100 List. At a ceremony in L.A. this May, Musexpo will honour Glass with the title, “International Music Person of the Year.” Glass was the guest keynote speaker at the Australian Music Prize. This is an edited transcript of Glass’ Q&A interview.

You’ve had some great mentors along the way. Who inspired you?

Before I opened Glassnote, I went to see the masters. I spent a lot of time with (Chrysalis founder) Chris Wright, and with (Island Records founder) Chris Blackwell. Mo Ostin has also always been a role model. At Chrysalis, I was in charge of Spandau Ballet. When we went No. 1 with True, Chris and Terry Ellis took me for sake. That night, I got the secrets of what made them sign the artist. Today, my mantra is the same as that sake night – sign the best artists in the world, if you don’t feel they could play Madison Square Garden one day, walk out. If they don’t have the ambition or the talent, walk out. Chris Wright taught me about touring. He said to me,” there’s only one way to learn – get on the bus.” He made me go from the east to the west of Canada. You can’t go to school for that.

You ran EMI in North America when Chrysalis and SBK Records were sold to EMI. What was that experience like?

Awful. Chrysalis was in my DNA, my blood. That’s why I hope people see a little bit of Chrysalis or A&M when they see our company. It was all part of the finishing school of what you become.

When did you know Glassnote would make it?

We started with two laptops. It was a Jerry Maguire moment. We had very little money, and a bunch of interns. Did I know we were going to make it? We had no choice. We had to make it. We had a big hit on the first song with the band Secondhand Serenade. It’s a totally open plan office, where interns, executives, everyone is equal. We’re moving upstairs now to a larger office, but it’s all going to be open.

What makes you tick?

I’m extremely nervous that it could all be over tomorrow. The key to the business is staying in business. That drives me. I’m very nervous in a good way. I thrive on the nerves, on the stress. I need to be around people who have that anxiety. You look at the great artists before they go on stage, that’s where you see it. I want to build something that lasts, that people care about.

What do you make of the Australian music scene?

You’re in the middle of something very special here. Through the Temper Trap, I saw a renaissance of a scene here, and in the quality of music and production and touring. You’re losing the inferiority complex, finally. It’s important to do that because, if I moved here and became a peer, one day, one of the worst things to say would be, “this could really do well in America.” Why don’t you just be great? You have great artists here, who have such vision, who are so original. Australia has figured out that you need to make great records, you need the songwriting to be better. Gotye wrote and made the record of the year. I don’t think anyone says, “oh, that’s that guy from Australia.” That helps you get the shackles off also, as Australian artists, because (that success) can happen. And it will happen again and again. Stop apologising, stop rationalising. But come over and do your thing. And be great. Spend time. Ask your agent to book you in for one extra day to soak it up. Be competitive. Spend the extra dime on masters, on mixing. If it has to be done in another country, do it. Make a better video. And put your face on the record.

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