James Diener

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James Diener
Nationality American
Alma mater Johns Hopkins University
Occupation Music and entertainment executive

James Diener is an American music/entertainment executive and entrepreneur.

He is the co-founder of Freesolo Entertainment;[1] an entertainment company comprising Freesolo Music, a record label joint venture with Interscope Records/Universal Music Group; Freesolo Publishing, a joint venture with Sony/ATV Music Publishing; and Freesolo Management, a joint venture with Vector Management. Freesolo has represented artists such as Avril Lavigne, Rachel Platten, The Struts, Gavin DeGraw, Hailee Steinfeld and Pitbull. He is also the Executive Music Producer of Netflix's 2018 unscripted music series, "Westside."[2][3]

He is also the co-founder of Alignment Artist Capital,[4] a New York-based specialty finance company created specifically for the entertainment industry [5] in partnership with BlackRock.[6][7]

Early life

Diener grew up in New York, and attended private school. His father, Steve Diener, was the president of ABC Records in the 1970s. He attended Johns Hopkins University, and graduated in 1991 with honors.[8]


Diener was the founder and CEO/President of A&M/Octone Records,[9] a joint venture between Octone Records and Universal Music Group. A&M/Octone Records signed and developed artists including Maroon 5, Hollywood Undead, Flyleaf, K'naan.[10][11][12] After six successful years of operation, in September 2013, Octone initiated its buy/sell rights in the joint venture, resulting in Universal Music Group purchasing Octone Records' 50% interest in A&M/Octone Records.[13][14]

In 2000, Diener founded Octone Records,[15] an independent label distributed through BMG, while simultaneously serving as Senior Vice President of A&R/Marketing for Clive Davis & the RCA Music Group, now a division of Sony Music Entertainment.[8] As part of that relationship, Diener negotiated an exclusive joint venture with Sony Music that gave Octone the ability to upstream successful acts in partnership with the RCA Music Group for further international marketing and promotion. Diener also signed and developed platinum singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw.

Octone was also noted in the music industry for its entrepreneurial private-equity financing model and is the subject of a 2007 Harvard Business School case study.[16] Upon Octone's original launch, Diener raised $5 million of private equity investment from BlackRock,[17][18] The Blackstone Group,[19] Lazard Freres, Credit Suisse First Boston, MacAndrews & Forbes, Kelso & Company and Soros Fund Management.[4]

Prior to his dual status as CEO/President of Octone Records and Senior Vice President of A&R and Marketing at RCA Music Group, Diener was Vice President of A&R and Marketing at Columbia Records from 1992 to 2000, where he worked with such platinum and developing artists as Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash, Black Crowes, Clutch, The Jayhawks, Tony Bennett, Roger Waters, Chris Whitley, Jesse Malin, Iron Maiden, Terence Trent D'Arby, and New Kids on the Block, among others.

Diener is a record producer and member of both NARAS and the Academy of Magical Arts.[citation needed]

Diener began his formal career in 1991 at Columbia Records. Prior to that, he held various industry positions as a personal management associate and recording engineer.[20] Diener has also been an invited guest speaker at New York University, Harvard Business School, Wharton School of Business, Berklee College of Music,[21] and the Benjamin N. Cordoza School of Law. Diener was also featured in "Blockbusters," a 2013 book on the business of entertainment.[22] He delivered the Keynote Speech at the 2010 NARM Convention in Chicago.[23]


  1. ^ "Former A&M/Octone Execs Launch Hybrid Company Freesolo; Gavin DeGraw, Hunter Hunted Among First Signings". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  2. ^ "Netflix Reveals First Unscripted Music Series". Variety. 2018-10-11.
  3. ^ "Westside". Netflix.com.
  4. ^ a b Robehmed, Natalie. "BlackRock Investing In Musicians Through Alignment Artist Capital". Forbes. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  5. ^ Christman, Ed (2015-04-06). "Industry Vets Launch Alignment..." Billboard Magazine.
  6. ^ Schneider, Laura (2015-04-07). "Music Industry Veterans Launch Alignment Artist Capital". Hypebot.
  7. ^ Newman, Melinda (2015-12-03). "Why This New Form Of Funding..." Entrepreneur Magazine.
  8. ^ a b Kornbluth, by Jesse. "Sounds Like a Long-Term Plan". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  9. ^ "Music Industry's New Biz Model". CNN. 2010-08-20.
  10. ^ Kimes, Mina. "A&M/Octone returns to music's roots - nurturing artists - Jan. 12, 2010". money.cnn.com. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  11. ^ "Portrait Of A Rapper..." Fast Company. 2010-11-01.
  12. ^ Brady, Shirley (2011-01-27). "Coke, K'naan & 2010 FIFA World Cup Campaign". BrandChannel.
  13. ^ "Interscope Geffen A&M Acquires Full Ownership of Label Home to Maroon 5". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  14. ^ Leeds, Jeff. "Maroon 5 Record Deal". Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  15. ^ "'INCUBATOR' ROCKERS -HOT ACT MAROON 5 IS BACKED BY WALL ST". New York Post. 2004-05-23. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  16. ^ Elberse, Anita; Ofek, Elie (2007-06-29). "Octone Records".
  17. ^ Schatzker, Erik (2017-04-18). "Larry Fink Q&A". Bloomberg Magazine.
  18. ^ Thomas, Lauren (2017-04-18). "Blackrock's Larry Fink Helped Create..." CNBC.
  19. ^ Meoli, Daria. "Music To Their Ears". NY Enterprise Report. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  20. ^ James Diener's Downtown Club History 101, retrieved 2018-08-13
  21. ^ Fee, Kerry; Verdoorn, Mia (2012-03-13). "A&R In The Digital Age". Berklee.
  22. ^ Elberse, Anita (2013-10-15). Blockbusters. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 9780805094336.
  23. ^ "HITS Daily Double: Rumor Mill - James Diener at NARM". HITS Daily Double. Retrieved 2018-08-13.

External links

  • Freesolo Entertainment
  • Alignment Artist Capital
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