Disruptor Records Founder Adam Alpert on His Sony Music JV, New Chainsmokers Album and the Future of Streaming

Adam Alpert
Contour by Getty Images

Disruptor Records may be known as the home of the Chainsmokers, but ever since New York-based label founder Adam Alpert turned the EDM duo’s success into a joint venture deal with Sony, the imprint is finding its legs outside of the world of electronic music. Most notably, the label has begun growing its own cadre of female singer-songwriters such as Dove Cameron, whose hit “Boyfriend” has lit up international terrestrial radio and streaming sites globally alike this year.

Variety caught up with Alpert to talk about his label’s growing influence in the pop world, his philosophy on developing artists, the new Chainsmokers album (out Friday), the future of streaming, Alpert’s JV at Sony Music and more.

While many may associate Disruptor with electronic music, you are having a fair amount of success at the moment with young female singers and songwriters. How do you see the label’s identity in 2022?

We’re having a peak right now. As I tell my team [Alpert says Disruptor has a staff of 10 people, split between NY and LA], we have peaks and valleys in this business. The label/management venture is almost eight years old now and early on people just sort of assumed we were an EDM company, but we never really thought of ourselves that way.

I started the company with the mindset that I had been given the freedom to sign whatever I like, and I’ve always been such a big music fan of all genres. It just happened that my first success was with a band [the Chainsmokers] that came out of dance music. So, we have had that stigma a little bit – but we have kind of shed it over the years, but we were never a dance label or trying to be explicitly a dance label.

Dove Cameron’s “Boyfriend” has turned into a big song for Disruptor, how did the record come about and to what do you attribute its success?

We put together a slew of sessions for Dove over the course of two months. I actually publish Evan Blair, and the very first session that she did was with him [and others]. She had written 20 or so songs over the course of those two months, and that song came out of the very first session. The story is her story and then [co-writers] Skyler [Stonestreet], Delacey and Evan [Blair] and her made it come to life [in that songwriting session]. It was one of those magical moments that you hope for.

It’s now a global smash. The BBC has really embraced it. I just got back from the UK and we had a little Disruptor promo week in London, it was really great. “Boyfriend” sort of came out of nowhere. It was a song that Dove wrote, that she loved and she wanted to test the waters with via posting it on TikTok and it took on a life of its own and because a kind of anthem for the LGBT world. It just exploded and we had to react to it.

I also think that great writing begets great writing, so Dove is on a tear right now. We have the next song that she just wrote a few weeks ago, and we couldn’t be more excited about it. She’s kind of found her wings with her songwriting. Timing is everything with that…. you have to be at the right place in your career, the right place in your life, with the right mindset. It just starts to flow and work. We’ve been working with Dove for almost five years now, and this makes all those years of hard work worth it and so fulfilling.