In the latest “Math & Magic: Stories from the Frontiers of Marketing” podcast from iHeartMedia’s Bob Pittman, the CEO sits down with “Disco Danny,” a.k.a. Daniel Glass, President and Founder of Glassnote Records—who in his early days as a music aficionado, spun records at legendary New York City disco club Regine’s. “I had to go out and get Faded Glory jeans and cork high heel shoes… it changed my world,” he says.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Glass first studied pre-med at Brooklyn College, but more or less stumbled into a job as a radio DJ. “My elocution and diction were awful… talk about a Brooklyn accent,” he tells Pittman. “So I get this job and realize the radio station is very hippy rock. I decided I’m going to go against the grain and play disco, R&B and soul music.” Surprise: His show became a hit with listeners, and was then picked up by Manhattan Cable Television.
That led to a career break working with a songwriter and helping to pitch music. “I gave up my major and totally immersed myself in music,” Glass says. At 16, he first went to Club 82, sporting his disco duds, “and it changed my world. I was so shocked by this atmosphere.” While trying to pass along a record for his songwriter boss to the DJ at Regine’s, he was ushered to the DJ booth and ultimately—accidentally—hired as one of the club’s premier DJs.
“I was there opening night, worked three to six nights a week for a year and a half in this suit and tie club. I got to meet, see or experience Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Diane van Furstenberg… every night it was these types of people.” He was also regularly quoted by gossip columnist Liz Smith, talking about who was in the club “and what records I was playing.” She is the one who ultimately dubbed him Disco Danny.
Next, Glass began recording mixtapes for New York radio stations, including WBLS, where he befriended influential and legendary New York programmer Frankie Crocker. Then came executive positions at Chrysalis Records, and the newly launched SBK Records. “It was the most magical independent record label in the world. In less than three years, to have Vanilla Ice, Ninja Turtles, Wilson Phillips, Jon Secada, Blur, the beginnings of Oasis, all on one label,” he says. Glass goes on to talk about the founding of his own indie label Glass Note, home to Mumford & Sons, Childish Gambino, CHVRCHES, Two Door Cinema Club, Phoenix and others, and its “authenticity.”
Talking with Pittman about the magic of radio, Glass adds, “It’s such a personal medium. I look at radio as being a friend, the warm hug that you get. If you asked 100 music executives, writers, producers, artists, 97 out of 100 will say to you, ‘the first time I heard my song on the radio…’ It’s personality, it’s your friend, it is something that greets you in the morning.”
From the label perspective, he adds, “I can’t think of how to break an artist or a record without radio in tandem with streaming. I think streaming is very key as an early indicator or an indicator, but you must have radio. It’s very rare that you get to Madison Square Garden without radio.”