In January 2014, electronic duo the Chainsmokers’ hit song, “#SELFIE,” was released by Dim Mak Records and became a runaway success. It was the culmination of a project they and their manager, Adam Alpert, had been nurturing for two years. Recently, in combination with his newly minted publishing company, Selector Songs, the man behind Disruptor Management launched a companion label, making the NYC-based act his first signing.
After I graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, I went home to New York City and became entranced with the hospitality industry, specifically restaurants and nightclubs. I started as a nightclub promoter, with hopes I would get my foot in the door with different restaurant and nightclub operators. After a short time, I started working for one of the larger groups, Butter Hospitality Group. I was director of marketing and promotions for about eight years and helped launch the 1Oak nightclub brand.
Rise of the DJ
While I was there, I noticed the rise in popularity and importance of the DJ. People started caring more about who was DJing rather than where they were going or who else was going. As social media was becoming more prevalent, I witnessed DJs becoming very famous. Electronic music was making its way to America in a mainstream way.
At the time, I had DJs working at our venues that I thought were the best in the country, but they weren’t properly managed. I knew that if I got these guys organized and I utilized the relationships I developed in the nightclub world, I could help build their careers, which led to the start of a DJ management company in 2010 with ten high-end DJs.
Four years later, I signed DJ Alex Pall, who produced dance music and was looking for a partner to duo with. Someone introduced me to Drew Taggart, a recent college graduate, so I introduced them to each other and the Chainsmokers were born.
It became a passion project for me, working with these producer/DJs and helping develop their careers: putting out music, building a brand and acquiring a fan base. One day, they told me they made a funny song called “#SELFIE,” which got picked up by an indie label [Dim Mak]. Then they were courted by major labels and eventually signed with Republic Records.
Afterwards, they were courted by major publishing companies. We did a deal with Sony/ATV Publishing and I learned the inner workings of the people at the major labels. Then an idea struck me: if I could have my own label and publishing company, I would be able to streamline the goals of artists into one unified strategy.
I had befriended Doug Morris at Sony and Martin Bandier at Sony/ATV, so I pitched them my idea. They thought it was very forward thinking and did joint ventures with me. So here I am.
Dance and pop music will be the backbone [of the label], but we’re definitely not limiting ourselves to that.
I have two [employees], but the resources and departments I use are those of Sony and Sony/ATV. In my direct Disruptor/Selector Publishing team, there are three of us, but I have a marketing department, accounting, legal, promotions and Sony as the associated label.
I have artists I’m already in the process of signing. I find them through my own research, scouting and discovery, referral, submissions or other artists collaborating with them.
I listen to everything I’m sent. There’s always that needle in a haystack that’s amazing and you don’t want to miss it. I seek people who are trying to do things a bit differently.
Every day people send me progressive house festival-style tracks that are one and the same. They’re not pushing the envelope. The top one-hundred DJ producers in the world already have that covered. So [I want] styles of music incorporating different influences, new sounds, world sounds, just something trying to be different. That’s what we try to do with the way we brand ourselves, engage with our fans, market ourselves and the concepts we deliver.