Sean Glass' WIN Music Re-Examines the Role of the Label for Upcoming Electronic Artists

Sean Glass, photographed at his home office in New York (Matt Furman)

This story -- on Sean Glass and his WIN Music reboot -- is from the May 11 edition of Billboard and featues a cover package on the passing of the late, great country legend George Jones as well as looks at Anheuser-Busch's massive spending in the music space; the making of the "Great Gatsby" Soundtrack; a breakdown of Warner Music's Parlophone plans; and a Q&A with Kenny Chesney. You can pick up this issue here or subscribe to Billboard here.

As a part-time A&R rep for labels like Epic Records and Universal Republic, Sean Glass often found his hands tied when he was ready to get behind a potential signing. “I was working in film at the time and whenever I would do work to break artists in-market people would say, ‘Why don’t you just put this artist out yourself?’ And I’d say no because I didn’t have a label.”
Glass spent the better part of the last two to three years scouting artists and sourcing remixes for his father Daniel’s label Glassnote by day, and honing his chops as a DJ by night in the New York dance scene, testing new artists and deep house tracks out on crowds at Soho House, Boom Boom Room and warehouse parties in Bushwick. Eventually, he arrived at the idea to revive WIN Music -- a boutique disco label founded by Daniel’s father-in-law Sam Weiss in the late ‘70s -- as his own label founded in partnership with Downtown Records, RED and Glassnote. WIN’s first release will be Duke Dumont’s “Need U (100%),” which recently went to number-one single in the U.K., and arrives Stateside to digital service providers May 7.

“I didn’t want to raise a shitload of money to create a label in the form of what we’re supposed to think a label is,” Glass says. “I wanted to create the best solution for dance music by having the branding of labels that can give you the guaranteed clout and credibility, but I also wanted to provide the resources to boost your social numbers and scale to radio and retail and create big licensing campaigns.”
WIN’s unique structure will allow Glass and his staff of four to focus on artist development and promotion, with partners like RED and Downtown handling the heavy lifting on distribution. “I haven’t been involved in anything where a distributor actively participates in a partnership with between two of its labels to launch a third imprint,” says Josh Deutsch, chairman-CEO of Dowtown Records. “That part of it was intriguing to us. We’ve had success in this genre among others and really felt it was the right fit.”
Much like Downtown’s other partner labels like Mad Decent and Fool’s Gold, WIN will primarily focus on releasing key tracks and singles rather than full-length albums. “I don’t want to necessarily push albums just because we traditionally like albums. I want to support really good songs,” Glass says. “The reason why ‘Need You (100%)’ is great and goes to No. 1 and not just a really cool record is because it’s a verse-chorus-verse song with a great hook. EDM has gotten really big but hasn’t really crossed over to acceptance by mainstream music critics and fans. We can work ‘Need You (100%)’ the same way we can do a Phoenix record or a Two Door Cinema Club record at Glassnote.”
Sean Glass had already started to put a dance-inflected stamp on the otherwise alt-rock focused Glassnote in recent months with signings like Robert DeLong and Flight Facilities, which is why Daniel calls WIN an “extension of our ethos, but not in the ethos. He takes me to EDM shows, which are way more rock and roll than most rock things anymore. He knows intrinsically well how to take a song to Beatport or whether to call up Sirius XM or the Clear Channel stations. He’s so tied into it.”