James Diener

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James Diener is an American music executive and entrepreneur.


Diener is co-founder of Freesolo Entertainment; 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. Clients have included Avril Lavigne, Rachel Platten, The Struts, Gavin DeGraw, Hailee Steinfeld and Pitbull.

Diener is also co-founder of Alignment Artist Capital, a New York-based specialty finance company created specifically for the entertainment industry in partnership with BlackRock. Alignment Artist Capital provides access to capital needed for a range of business goals via a hybrid structured investment model.


Most recently, Diener was founder and CEO/President of A&M/Octone Records, a joint venture between Octone Records and Universal Music Group. A&M/Octone Records signed and developed Maroon 5, platinum modern rap-rockers Hollywood Undead, platinum modern-rock act Flyleaf, and internationally acclaimed hip-hop artist K'naan. A full-service artist development label, A&M/Octone operated music publishing, merchandising and touring rights companies – in addition to specializing in recorded music. 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.

Previously in 2000, Diener founded Octone Records, 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. 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. Also, while at RCA, Diener signed and developed platinum singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw.

Octone was also noted in the music industry for its entrepreneurial private-equity financing model. Upon Octone's original launch, Diener raised $5 million of private equity investment – individual investors drawn from blue-chip companies BlackRock, The Blackstone Group, Lazard Freres, Credit Suisse First Boston, MacAndrews & Forbes, Kelso & Company and Soros Fund Management.

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.

He is an accredited record producer and member of both NARAS the Academy of Magical Arts.

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. As the subject of two Harvard Business School case studies, Diener has also been an invited guest speaker at New York University, Harvard Business School, Wharton School of Business, Berklee College of Music, and the Benjamin N. Cordoza School of Law. Diener was also featured in "Blockbusters," a 2013 book on the business of entertainment. He delivered the Keynote Speech at the 2010 NARM Convention in Chicago.

Diener graduated in 1991 with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in both economics and sociology from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD.

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