The Glassnote offices, located across from Bloomingdale's on Manhattan's Upper East Side, feel a little like a den with desks. The walls are decorated with the Glassnote equivalent of fridge-door photos and drawings: Phoenix's "Saturday Night Live" set list, signed by host Seth Rogen; magazine covers graced by Glassnote artists; and a "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix"-themed promotional snowboard from the band's recent arena tour.
At the offices, everyone is gathered around an elegant rectangular glass table in the middle of the room, sipping Cafe Bustelo out of Greenware cups and gabbing. Glass passes around a bowl of citrus fruit his mother-in-law shipped up north and asks marketing and branding director Marisa Fair if the T-shirts for the weekend's God's Love We Deliver charity run are ready yet.
"It's only four miles. That's nothing," avid marathoner Glass scoffs, and his team groans good-naturedly. In this office you go jogging with your boss at 9 a.m. on a freezing fall morning. And you appear to like it.
The Glassnote team will need its stamina: 2011 promises to be a demanding year. Phoenix heads back into the studio this winter and expects to release a follow-up to "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" in the fall. Glassnote is particularly excited about the forthcoming new album from Southern electro-rock group Royal Bangs, which was signed on the recommendation of Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, one of Glass' industry friends.
And then there's Mumford & Sons. They're taking a few weeks off before beginning work on their sophomore set in earnest. (They've already road-tested a few new songs.) But they'll be back in the States in February for the Grammys ceremony and hope to have a new album out sometime next year. Additionally in 2011, Glass wants to focus on building Glassnote's publishing arm. "To grow the publishing and find another two or three great cornerstone artists that complement what we do here, that's our modest goal," he says.
Glass has been in the music biz for more than 30 years, and yet he doesn't even curse. When he wants to use the word "asshole" to describe the kind of people he doesn't want his bands bringing into the Glassnote family, he spells it out, then changes his mind and chooses another word: jerk. Which leads one to wonder: Where's the swaggering sense of cool? Where's the rock'n'roll image? Where's the edge?
According to 10th Street Entertainment founder Allen Kovac, it's in the selection of artists and the inner grit Glass has been displaying ever since he was vouching for Blur and Vanilla Ice in the same meetings in the early '90s.
"Daniel is not trying to fill formats. He's just looking for greatness," Kovac says. "Mumford is great, Phoenix is great, but I don't think either one of those projects was safe or easy. You look at artists like Neon Trees or Crash Kings, they're both on major labels, but look at the SoundScan on them. And here you have this guy who in six months takes something that was left of center, didn't sound like anything else and it's going gold. He's got the killer instinct. It's not all 'Kumbaya.' "
Glass agrees. "I wanted to start this utopian little rock company, that's true," he says. "But the word that doesn't get mentioned [to describe us] is 'ambition.' We're very intense. We have passed on artists who run out of here scared when they hear about the focus and demands because we are very focused and very demanding. We're not for everybody."
He pauses and leans back in his chair. "I'm not curating for museum sake," he says. "I don't want to be the coolest. I want to be the best."