No matter how the biz changes, those who repeatedly make the right calls on new artists and records remain the most coveted executive talent. Indie entrepreneurs Daniel Glass and Ron Perry are among this select group of rainmakers, both having demonstrated the ability to jump on viable talent ahead of the competition.

THE BOOK ON DANIEL: Glass has another smash in the making, and the timing couldn’t be more complicated for him. The veteran entrepreneur’s deal with UMG for his Glassnote label is up, and so is the contract of Childish Gambino (the musical synonym of polymath Donald Glover). “Redbone,” the lead single from the third and final album on the Childish deal, started as a viral phenomenon, but its use in the film Get Out helped ignite the track’s sales and streams, and now that radio has joined the party, “Redbone” is lined up to erupt into a massive hit. Childish is the third act Glass has broken during Glassnote’s decade-long existence, after Mumford & Sons and Phoenix, but both bands broke during the label’s previous distribution deal with Sony’s RED, and it remains to be seen whether Glassnote will be able to hold onto Childish, who is being pursued by at least two majors, with Interscope believed to be the current frontrunner. Glassnote’s value will continue to increase, along with those of virtually every musical-content entity as a result of the growth of streaming. The big question is, will Glass finally decide to take some chips off the table in negotiating the company’s next deal?

Glass’ career has had its share of ups and downs. After spending six years at Chrysalis Records, where he rose to SVP, Glass joined Charles Koppelman and Marty Bandier’s SBK in 1989, moving from SVP Promotion to EVP/GM and then assuming the presidency of the consolidated EMI Records Group, which was later folded into Virgin. In 1995, Glass made his next move, joining Doug Morris for the launch of the startup label Rising Tide. Morris thought enough of Glass to name him President of the label, renamed Universal Records the following year, but the two failed to click, and Glass wasn’t part of Morris’ team when MCA’s 1998 acquisition of PolyGram created the new UMG. He resurfaced at Danny Goldberg’s indie label Artemis in 1999, where he worked for seven years, rising from EVP to President. But Glass then staged a dramatic career comeback following the 2007 launch of Glassnote, as he picked up Phoenix’s fourth album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009), breaking the French band in the U.S., while the LP received the Grammy for Best Alternative Album and went on to sell 1m+. Mumford & Sons’ 2011 debut, Sigh No More, has sold 4m to date, while the English band’s second album, Babel, topped the charts, won the Grammy for Album of the Year and has sold 2.3m. Glass has also developed Scottish group Chvrches into a contender over two moderately successful LPs, with the third expected later this year, and the buzz is becoming louder. What’s more, a new Phoenix album is coming soon.

PERRY’S BIG PUSH: Signing artists to a label and signing writers to a publisher are two different skill sets, and publishers are often, in the case of signing artists, chasing something that may already have an established market value. Still, SONGS President and co-founder Ron Perry—who happens to have started his career as an intern for Daniel Glass at Artemis—has been hot with signings like The Weeknd, Lorde, Diplo and DJ Mustard and is believed to have joined the ranks of highly sought-after execs who have the secret sauce. Perry is unquestionably a hustler, jetting to New Zealand and winning over Lorde’s mum, for example, and generally wielding his checkbook and highly developed ability to close.

Perry’s creative moves include pairing The Weeknd with Daft Punk (fueling two successful singles on the former’s Starboy album) and his hands-on oversight of the A&R on Lorde’s forthcoming album, due 6/16. He flexed his influence during the rollout of her single “Green Light,” which he believed was a smash and pushed hard for it to go to all radio formats simultaneously. Team Republic acquiesced based on Perry’s momentum, and while the track didn’t connect, it was an index of Perry’s juice at that moment. The album as a whole is said to be very strong; new single “Perfect Places” was serviced last week to Triple A and Alternative.

Perry has also expanded his purview to the label side at RECORDS, with Barry Weiss running the company day-to-day for Perry and CEO/co-founder Matt Pincus. Thus far, the fledgling label has fielded releases from, among others, Nelly (whose “The Fix” reached #6 at Rhythm radio and 1.45m song SPS), iLoveMemphis (who peaked at #12 Rhythm and hit around 1.85m single SPS with “Hit the Quan”) and Noah Cyrus (whose first single, “Make Me (Cry),” reached #19 at Pop and is at 1.1m single SPS).

Weiss can read a record as well as anybody, and well knows how to push the necessary buttons and pull the requisite levers to make things happen. RECORDS has a distribution deal with RED, but has the Perry/Barry combo taken on new perceived value as Perry’s reputation has grown? If RECORDS found a new home, it could play to what are thought to be Weiss’ strengths—running a small independent with a creative head, not unlike his situation with Clive Calder at Jive.

Perry hasn’t yet had enough shots as a label executive to determine whether he’s a true major-league hitter, but some in the business believe he could turn out to be just that.

1D STARTS CHAPTER 2: When Simon Cowell had the idea of putting together a group out of five teenagers who’d separately auditioned for The X Factor in 2010, he created one of the biggest acts of the 21st century—and that may prove to just be part one of the One Direction narrative. Four 1D alumni are now in play—and in competition—as ZAYN, Niall Horan, Harry Styles and most recently Liam Payne have all launched solo careers, while Cowell has just snagged the fifth, Louis Tomlinson, who will join ZAYN on RCA in the U.S.  

Styles is making a huge mark with his Columbia debut album and lead single, and his forthcoming arena tour is going to be ginormous. RCA is high on ZAYN, as he continues to work on his second album—the final one under his deal. Insiders anticipate a new long-term deal at RCA despite ZAYN’s infamously questionable decision-making regarding media and promotion, which was recently evidenced by his no-show at the Bible’s awards special, where he was expected to accept the trophy for Top New Artist. Capitol is extremely optimistic about Horan’s burgeoning career; his first single went Top 10, and the second, “Slow Hands,” is off to a strong start—at press time it’s #21 at Pop radio and #7 at iTunes. Payne, signed by Capitol U.K.’s Nick Raphael and Jo Charrington, looks big in the U.K., while his debut single had a strong first two weeks at Pop radio in the U.S., where Payne is with red-hot Republic. 

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Epic hasn’t missed a beat under the day-to-day leadership of Sylvia Rhone, as the initial turbulence has subsided considerably. DJ Khaled’s latest track has exploded into the Top 10 at Pop; Camila Cabello has almost completely closed the Top 40 panel in her third week, while notching three consecutive huge weeks at multi-format radio; and the new single from her former group Fifth Harmony is exploding out of the box, including Most Added at Top 40.

NAMES IN THE RUMOR MILL: Allen Grubman, Todd Glassman, Julian Petty, Jeff Harleston, Chris Anokute, Heath Kudler and Stephen Sessa.

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