A decade ago, David Boxenbaum ’91 was an executive at Price Waterhouse when he got a call from his college buddy James Diener ’91, then a senior vice president of marketing for Columbia Records/Sony Music, where Diener worked with such artists as Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, and Pink Floyd.
Diener’s proposition to Boxenbaum: Let’s start an independent new music label that will take the industry by storm.
Their ambitious quest was realized in A&M/Octone Records, the hot music label that produced artists such as multi-platinum Maroon 5, modern-rock Flyleaf, rap-rockers Hollywood Undead, and pop hip-hop artist K’Naan.
A&M/Octone was small, and the company takes on only a handful of acts, which Diener and Boxenbaum say allows them to give artists the personal attention needed to vault them out of obscurity and into commercial success. The company received about 100 demos each week and they all get a listen, says Boxenbaum.
“I’m a hopeless idealist,” says Boxenbaum, who consulted for Universal Music and Disney during his years at Price Waterhouse. “I want to believe that at the bottom of that stack is that great band that no one knew about and that didn’t have the connections to get directly to me. I want to believe, ‘Wow. This is gonna be great.’ I love the discovery.”
He offers up the Grammy Award-winning Maroon 5 as an example. “Every single major label passed on them,” he says of the group. “It’s about seeing what people don’t see. The connection they have with an audience. What we saw was a diamond in the rough.”
Diener and Boxenbaum signed the group in 2002, and in the years since, Maroon 5 has seen several albums go platinum.