Glass was born and raised in Brooklyn and began his career as a DJ when he was a pre-med student at Brooklyn College. He used what he'd learned spinning at clubs in the city as a young executive at SAM Records, a small but respected dance label.
"A great DJ knows that if the dancefloor empties out, then he screwed up-and you'd better change the record real quick," says Michael Mena, a friend who would later work with Glass at SBK. "Daniel knows what a hit sounds like no matter the genre."
It wasn't until Glass landed at Chrysalis Records in 1983 that he really established himself in the industry. "My fondest memories are of my formative years at Chrysalis," Glass says. "I thought the business was always going to be the way it was there."
During his six years at the label, Glass nurtured acts as diverse as Pat Benatar and Huey Lewis & the News. And he discovered the model for label structure he would later emulate at Glassnote: a lean staff of committed professionals who actually like each other, shepherding the careers of a modest, impeccably selected roster.
Glass was a promotions guy and not involved with scouting talent, but it was at Chrysalis that he formed the A&R philosophy that's powered the rest of his career.
"I'd had some success promoting Spandau Ballet and my bosses, Chris Wright and Terry Ellis, took me out for sake at a Japanese restaurant," Glass remembers. "I'm from Brooklyn -- I didn't know what sake is. This was a big moment for me. So I turn to them and I asked the question. I said, 'How do you know? I mean, Debbie Harry! Pat Benatar! How did you know? Pat Benatar was singing show tunes at a comedy club. How did you put her on the parallel bar in that outfit [on the album cover for 1980's "Crimes of Passion"] and have her sing rock'n'roll?' And they basically said, 'When you walk in the room, if you don't feel Madison Square Garden, walk out.' "
Glass was prepared to work at Chrysalis for the rest of his career, but in 1989, he found out the label was being sold to EMI. It was one of the worst days of his life, Glass says, but he quickly bounced back, joining the newly launched SBK Records as head of promotion. He was eventually promoted to general manager of that label, before being promoted again to head of sales and promotion at EMI Record Group North America when SBK merged with EMI Records and Chrysalis.
"When he played me Vanilla Ice for the first time I hated it," says Mena, who worked as director of alternative radio at SBK. "I thought it was wretched, but he said, 'Whatever you think, this is what a hit sounds like,' and he was right. He knows a pop song. I mean, I'll be damned if I still don't hear [1990 hit] 'Hold On' by [SBK act] Wilson Phillips when I'm walking through T.J. Maxx."
In 2007 Glass founded Glassnote Entertainment Group and secured a distribution deal with RED. Since then, "family" has become a big word for Glass. Both he and Mumford & Sons use it to describe the label's relationship with its bands, and Glass also regularly applies it to his executive team.