Photo by Alex Eriksen

Daniel Glass, founder and president of Glassnote Entertainment Group, gave the keynote speech at this year’s CMJ Music Marathon. Alongside music personality Matt Pinfield, Glass spun yarns of his long career in music, running through everything from the elation of meeting and signing French rockers Phoenix to the dread of learning from his kids about Napster.

Pinfield asked the questions, and Glass gave the answers, sticking mainly to current events at Glassnote. Signing Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, and the good-vibe rockers Givers were just a few of the touchstones in the conversation. He saw Glover at the Bowery Ballroom on his son’s recommendation. “My jaw dropped,” said Glass. “I couldn’t believe it.” After the show he immediately went to try and talk to Glover, “not to hustle or anything,” said Glass, only to offer accolades for a show well done. Their conversation produced the deal Glover eventually signed with Glassnote.

Glass spent some time on Phoenix because the story is one close to his heart. He recalled hearing the band’s music and flying to France to meet the guys. In a Paris bistro he saw sitting at a table “four of the coolest guys in the world.” Not typically a coffee drinker, Glass had three espressos with the band and talked business. “They wanted three things,” recalls Glass, “respect, and they wanted to play an American festival and to play Saturday Night Live.” All he asked in return was the band to sign with Glassnote—and if he could use the bathroom, as they’d been sitting and talking non-stop for three hours.

The music biz is not made of just these moments, however. Glass remembered the turmoil wrought over the merger of his former label, Chrysalis, where he was senior vice president, with EMI and SBK. “People’s careers were ended arbitrarily. Not pretty,” said Glass. Working in the time of file sharing was equally unpleasant. Glass was at Universal when file-sharing services were just beginning to appear, starting with Napster. He was driving his kids to and from bar mitzvahs and overheard them talking about it. “They didn’t want to hear the N-word at Universal,” Glass said. Rather than retreat from the future, Glass kept an open mind about the new technology. Today Glass looks for and encourages new apps and services to connect fans with music legally.

Departing the stage, a bunch of youngsters trying to break into the biz rushed up to Glass, asking for his advice and passing him demos and business cards. He accepted them, though only to view at another time, as he admitted with a smile, “I can’t read without my glasses.”

Photo by Alex Eriksen