Q&A: Glassnote Records' Daniel Glass on Mumford & Sons’ Big Grammy Win

Glassnote Records act Mumford & Sons won the album of the year award for "Babel," which registered the biggest sales week for an album in the first 10 months of 2012, selling 600,000 copies. It has sold 1.7 million total. Mumford's only other win was for long-form video for the film "Big Easy Express." Glassnote owner Daniel Glass spoke with Billboard.biz following the Grammys on Sunday to discuss how Mumford & Sons’ recent Grammy Awards could impact the group’s career moving forward.

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Mumford & Sons was a big contrast to most of the performances on the show. We know the Grammy voters liked them, because of the album of the year award. But do you think the band will pick up any of the pop audience that the Grammy's attract?
I think Mumford & Sons is certainly getting a wider audience. When I first heard them I called them an alternative rock band with a banjo. This is one of the two, or so, records of the year that will resonate with all audience segments. I am hearing that the phones on country radio are calling for them and some country radio is playing their music, although we haven't worked it to them.

Billboard Power 100: Daniel Glass

Do you think picking up the album of the year award for “Babel” will result in bigger sales than Mumford experienced with “Sigh No More” after performing on the ceremony in 2011?
Two years ago, when they played with Dylan, they got the biggest sales bounce since the year Bonnie Raitt won. I think “Babel” is still just beginning to sell. Its sales could go into orbit. Look at how they are selling now; they are selling at indie stores and in the big boxes and they are breaking digital music sales records. Plus, all their shows are selling out. They just put some more shows on sale and they all immediately sold out.

I take it they are a great live band?
They love playing live. They live for the joy of playing live. Just the other nights they were playing the MusiCare's Bruce Springsteen tribute and they did such a great job of bonding with the audience. They were on fire. They shrunk that room [in the Los Angeles Convention Center] and made it feel like a small club. And then look at the job they did tonight playing by themselves and part of the Levon Helm tribute. They were one of the last bands to play his "Barn" and concert space before he died, so they were definitely looking forward to playing the tribute tonight.

What does this Grammy award do for Glassnote?
I am proud of us as an indie label. I have to give credit to our team at the label for helping to make Mumford & Sons happen in [North America].  I can tell you when we first signed them and put them out, the first three months weren't pretty. Radio and retail didn't get into them in the very beginning. It wasn't an easy sell. But the band and their managers kept working on it and we did too. It was all about trust.

In addition to our team, I have to give credit to Ken Ehrlich. He had the guts to let them play with Bob Dylan and then this year he let them be a part of the Levon Helm tribute, and also play by themselves. That is a sign of confidence.

I have written two stories already on how the Grammys should impact sales. In both articles, most retailers picked Mumford & Sons as having the best chance of taking off like Adele's "21" did last year. But in the second story, one merchant thought the Grammy would more likely help "Babel" to sell like "O Brother Where Art," which was at four million units before winning a slew of Grammy awards in 2002 and going on to sell another two million units that year.
We will take either sales reaction -- Adele's or "O Brother Where Art Thou." But the band will be real happy to be compared to the latter, because if you talked to them about their influences, they will tell you that is the album that changed them into where they are now.

So if “Babel” takes off like either of the above, do you have enough inventory in the field and in the warehouse to keep up with demand? Remember, when Raitt took off, Capitol spent about five weeks chasing that album before they caught up with demand.
I would guess so, but you would have to ask our distributor RED about that. I think they are pretty good at supplying the album, so I am not worried.