Cover image for A & R : a novel
Title:
A & R : a novel
Author:
Flanagan, Bill.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
342 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780375502668
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

The business of A&R (artists and repertoire) people at a record company is to sign new acts and nurture their careers, and lately no one in the industry has been hotter than Jim Cantone. Now the big time calls, and Jim accepts an offer to become head of A&R at industry giant WorldWide Records, founded and still run by the legendary maverick Wild Bill DeGaul. Little by little, though, it dawns on Jim that he has walked into a vipers' nest, and he must choose between picking up a dagger in a bloody palace coup against DeGaul or standing by him and losing everything.          Never before in fiction has the music business been so thoroughly nailed, but A&R is as much Julius Caesar as it is The Player: for all its great wit and dead-on insider texture, it's as wise about human nature as it is about one very dysfunctional industry.


Author Notes

Author of Written in My Soul and U2 at the End of the World. He is senior vice-president and editorial director of VH1. Flanagan has written for Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, GQ, Esquire, Spy, and many other publications. He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The ups and downs, ins and outs, of the recording industry are given colorful if irreverent treatment in this novel by the senior vice-president of VH1. As an insider, Flanagan spares us any illusion that this is a field dominated by creativity first and business a distant second. Power and money are at the root of every major decision, and the careers of creative up-and-comers such as country singer Cokie Shea and the band Jerusalem are so far down in priority as to be nonexistent. A more traditional sort of music pioneer called Wild Bill DeGaul is someone who truly loves the music and artists he brings to world attention as president and founder of WorldWide. He is threatened by an inside coup d'etat orchestrated by J. B. Booth. Jim Cantone, who just joined WorldWide, is left in the middle of the boat wondering whether to throw DeGaul a life vest or let him sink to keep his own job afloat. Honesty and integrity seem to be in short supply among the various movers and shakers of A & R (Artists and Repertoire), and the victims of such machinations are both the artists themselves and those who thought the business was really about the music. Don't be surprised if this novel shows up in the form of a major motion picture. --Marlene Chamberlain


Publisher's Weekly Review

This panoramic, episodic and occasionally trenchant portrait of the scheming and treachery of the Artists and Repertoire part of the music world teaches a commendable (if familiar) lesson, but not always as subtly as it could. As the book begins, Jim Cantone, a fresh-faced father of two from Maine, has just been made senior vice-president at Worldwide Entertainment, a pop record label. He observes the verbal sniping of a normal day's work with bemusement gradually turning into hardened wisdom. CEO Bill De Gaul and president J.B. Booth, similarly histrionic, driven men, struggle for control of the company. Through underhanded manipulations, Booth finally manages to have De Gaul fired, leaving him in charge of the company and forcing Cantone to make some tough choices. Flanagan simultaneously keeps readers entertained with two mildly satirical success stories: that of Black Beauty, a black lesbian group that reappears throughout the book as a stereotype of a "politically correct" act of "unglamorous black women playing Woodstock era folk-rock," and that of Cokie Shea, a coat-check girl and aspiring country singer who metamorphoses into a star. Cokie is the novel's one memorable creation, less an embodiment of greed or na‹vet‚ than an individual, with feelings and a soul. Seasoned music journalist Flanagan (U2 at the End of the World) is clearly wise about the ins and outs of the industry, but his knowledge occasionally leads him astray, making for long explanations and character biographies that may clarify events but retard the momentum. The faux journalism of his nuts-and-bolts style fails to make his story more believable. Although the novel is witty and has its fair share of thrills (including muggings in Brazil and a storm on the high seas), it falters too often and risks too little. 6-city author tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

Written by a vice president of VH1, this insider's tale of the music industry features a young A&R (artists and repertoire) genius overwhelmed by intrigue at the big new recording company he has just joined. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter 1 As Cantone got in the car and closed the door, Booth went into his pitch: "Jimmy, I want you on my team. I appreciate your loyalty to Barney. He's been good to you. But let's be honest. You have been very, very good to him. You found Metric Sect, you found Planet Fish. I won't embarrass you by asking if Barney even heard those albums before they went platinum. But it's his picture in Vanity Fair with his arms draped around them at the Grammys and a headline, 'The Man With The Golden Ear.' I saw that and I said to Lois, 'Barney's got a golden ear, alright-but it's attached to Jimmy Cantone's head!' Don't misunderstand me. I love Barney The guy's 54 years old, claims he's 52, and is still crawling around the carpet on all fours hovering up the last bits of Bolivia. No one's told him it's not the 1900s anymore. You're up all night pulling hits out of whining hopheads and Barney's taking the Concord to Paris to sample some new pastry and try to hump the busboy. How many times have you had to break the news to one of his lambchops that there will not be a record deal in his future? Never mind. I won't put you on the spot. I can imagine. "Someday you'll look back on that and it will all seem funny. Bottom line, Jimmy, you've gone as far as you can go with Barney. You've outgrown that situation. I can offer you an opportunity to play at the top of the game. At WorldWide you'll have the authority to oversee your projects from beginning to end. You'll have a say in how your acts are marketed, promoted, the video budget, where the ads are placed-every aspect from development to reissues. Bill DeGaul is a very big fan of yours. I told him I was going to make you an offer and he said, 'That guy's got it. He belongs here.' I think all three of us know that. The only thing we have to discuss is, how much it will take to make you feel at home." Jim was listening to Booth like a radio. He was startled he had to talk back. When he did, he said more than he should have. "I'm making 150 now, which with bonus and profit sharing ends up at about 200, 225." Booth smiled too quickly-Jim felt like a sap. "We can do better than that. I want you to come in as a vice president. You start out at 250 plus a minimum stip of 30 per cent. Within two years, you'll be at 300 and 40 per cent. That's the base. You're going to earn your real money on points on all the albums you're going to make for us. That's where you're going to get rich, Jimmy. You have kids, right?" "Two boys." "How old?" "Almost three. They're twins." "Imagine what it's going to cost to send two kids to Harvard at the same time in another fifteen years! You better take this job, Jimmy." Booth laughed and the driver, who Jim had not noticed listening, joined in. "It's real tempting, J.B.," Jim said. He wanted to regain a little leverage. "But you know, I've had a lot of offers. I like working with Barney. He is a nut, but he's a nut who lives for music. And it's home to me. I really like what you folks are doing. My wife sure wants me to make a move. I just need a few days to look at all the possibilities." He tapped the driver's shoulder. "I get out just up there on the right, behind the police car." Jim thanked Booth for the lift and said goodbye. As the car pulled away Booth lowered his window and called back, "Jim-listen to your wife!" Jim walked through a crowd of punks and college kids, into the Mercury Lounge. He was thirty now, but he believed he still looked like one of the fans. He had shoulder length hair, no longer as red as it used to be, and he was very thin. His skinniness exaggerated all his other features-his roman nose, his heavy brow, his big hands, and made him look taller than his six feet. Jim leaned down to tell the rat-faced kid on the door that his name was on the guest list but before he opened his mouth the kid said, "Go ahead, sir," and waved him in. A Rolling Stone writer Jim knew was leaning on the bar, smiling at this display of deference. "I guess he could tell I'm important," Jim said. "No," the writer said. "He took one look at you and thought, 'This guy's too old to be here for fun.'" The band Jim had come to see was called Jerusalem. He had been watching them for more than a year, giving them advice on songwriting and how to carry themselves on stage. He had seen them through three drummers, the bassist's suspended jail sentence, the keyboard player's marriage and the guitarist's divorce. He had helped them get publishing money so they could afford decent equipment and a van. He watched them grow from a promising local group to a confident band ready to record. Along the way other labels began sniffing around. Jim did not want to lose Jerusalem, but Barney held back from letting him sign them. They had an ambitious lawyer who wanted big money and Barney said let them sweat. Jim ordered an orange juice to take into the back room where the band was playing. When he paid he looked down the bar and saw Zoey Pavlov, a talent scout for WorldWide Music. That spooked him. Did Booth know that one of his A&R people was here when he dropped Jim outside? Maybe not. Zoey was out in some bar somewhere seeing some band every night. There was no reason to be paranoid. Zoey picked up two drinks and carried them to a table in the main room, near the stage. She sat them down in front of William "Wild Bill" DeGaul, the CEO of WorldWide Music, Booth's boss and maybe soon Jim's own. There was reason to be paranoid. Jim banged through the ugly possibilities. First: Booth was only pretending to court him to get Jerusalem for WorldWide. That made no sense. Big shots like Booth and DeGaul don't need to stoop to conquer small label A&R men. They step on them without wiping off their shoes. Second: DeGaul had arranged to be here to bump into Jim. Booth set him up with the flattering car ride and now the big boss was waiting at the other end to close the deal. Well, it would be sweet to believe it. Jim's ego was not grand enough to seriously consider that these giants of industry designed their movements to seduce him into taking a job he would be nuts to turn down anyway. Third: Zoey Pavlov got wind Jim might be coming into her department and was trying to (a.) make friends with him, (b.) scrutinize him, or (c.) steal his next signing out from under him. Maybe Zoey heard Jim was close to signing Jerusalem and she convinced the boss to come see them, pretending they were her discovery. It would be a way of saying to DeGaul, "My ears are as good as this guy's. What do you need him for?" Fourth: Zoey and DeGaul are just here because they like music. Right. Zoey spotted Jim staring at them and vaguely waved hello. She leaned over and said something to DeGaul who turned and smiled and motioned for Jim to come sit down. There were no free seats, but by the time Jim got to the table a lackey had vacated his chair and disappeared. "Hello, Zoey," Jim said. She mouthed hi and returned to looking bored and breathing through her mouth. Jim turned his head to DeGaul. "Bill, who's watching the empire?" "I got people to do that for me!" DeGaul announced. "Siddown, Mister Cantone! I want to get your read on this next band!" Jim sat. Wild Bill DeGaul always spoke a notch louder than he had to. Slight hearing loss, Jim figured, common liability in this business. DeGaul was in his middle fifties but looked right at home in the rock club. His hair was thick and had turned white so evenly that you could figure him for a blonde. His skin was tanned, his white collar and cuffs were starched, his khaki suit jacket was perfectly draped over his broad shoulders. He looked like a man who had arrived at his fifties feeling right at home. The world was designed for people like DeGaul. He was happy holding the lease. "I just got back from Africa!" DeGaul said in Jim's ear. "Dakar! What a place! You been? You gotta go. We hired camels! I drank some bad moonshine and woke up with a swollen colon and a shrunken head! The music is incredible there! Rai! I brought back some CDs, you gotta hear it." DeGaul fished in a leather satchel under the table, pushed aside a couple of stacks of what looked like fifty dollar bills wrapped in rubber bands and hauled out several compact discs with Xeroxed paper covers and French titles. He handed one to Jim. "Take this home and tell me what you think of it! It's great!" Well, Jim figured, DeGaul is a cowboy alright. The only way you'd ever get Jim's boss Barney up on a camel would be if he ran over it in his Bentley on the way to pick up a cheesecake. An MTV executive came up behind DeGaul and squeezed his shoulders. DeGaul turned and sailed into a conversation about whether one of WorldWide's big acts would headline the next Video Music Awards. Jim was relieved to be off the hook for a minute. He wasn't sure if he should mention the job offer. He wasn't sure if DeGaul's outgoing manner was part of the mating dance. He looked at Zoey Pavlov who regarded him as if he were standing on her foot. DeGaul made some halfhearted wisecrack and the MTV exec fell over laughing. Gosh, Jim thought, what must it do to a man's ass to be constantly kissed? DeGaul's legend was the stuff of Billboard Spotlights. His father was a naval officer and Wild Bill grew up at different bases around Latin America and the Caribbean. He was, famously, kicked out of military school for knocking out the commandant after being caught drunk. Shamed, he packed his kit and spent the next two years roaming Brazil. When he came out of the jungle he set up a small export business for bossa nova and mambo albums. He made money at it, and in the mid-sixties opened a record store in New Orleans. He ran back and forth to Brazil and the Caribbean, buying records for his store. He got a mail order business going. He set up a little label of his own. He recorded local New Orleans R&B and shipped it up north and overseas. He licensed foreign recordings for the U.S.A. He was one of the first entrepreneurs anywhere to record reggae. In 1967 DeGaul expanded his record exporting business into England and Europe. He got the U.S. rights to some second-level British rock bands and scored a few hits. His import and R&B sales kept climbing. He bought a couple of small radio stations in New Orleans and Florida, and pushed his own records on the air until the FCC came after him for conflict of interest. He then sold the stations at a big profit which he put back into his record company. By 1970, DeGaul's Tropic Records was a money mill. He had produced seven top twenty pop records and three dozen R&B hits. He sold the company to the conglomerate now known as WorldWide Entertainment for five million dollars and a pile of stock. He stayed on to run things as he always had. He acted like he still owned the joint. He rose through the ranks of WorldWide Music until he was in charge of the whole show. In 1995 WorldWide was bought by a Swedish multinational called NOA, who did not pretend to understand music and left DeGaul alone. By now, Jim figured, he must pull down ten million a year, and he still gave every appearance of being in it for the music and the adventure. As the house lights went down, DeGaul leaned over to Jim. "So-are these guys gonna roll my socks up?" Jim smiled and turned toward the bandstand. The four members of Jerusalem slunk out onto the stage and began switching on amps and tapping the microphones. Jim looked around to see if his boss Barney was there yet. Tonight was the night Barney was supposed to finally sign off on giving Jerusalem a contract. If everything went as planned, Jim would introduce Barney to the band, they'd have a nice chat, and then Jim would take Jerusalem out for a meal and make the formal proposal they had all been dancing around for twelve months. Jim searched through the faces in the half-dark room until he landed on the one he was looking for. There by the soundboard stood Barney Whippet, the father of Feast Records, looking like an imp. Barney's hair, dyed roadwork orange, stood straight up like the spikes of a crown. His eyebrows came to a sharp arch and his pointed ears stuck out from his head like little red wings. Barney was a smart and powerful middle-aged Englishman who looked as if he should be making toys at the north pole. He winked at Jim. If he was rattled to see his top A&R scout sitting with a rival, he did not show it. Barney looked like he always looked, like a happy delinquent. He looked like he was about to give someone a hotfoot. Deciding if he should leave Barney to sign up with DeGaul would be tough, but Jim was grateful for the choice. The music business was more and more dominated by bean-counters and corporate opportunists. Jim appreciated the older guys who had gotten in out of love. They might be pirates, they might be reprobates, they might have picked the pockets of poor bluesmen and ignorant English kids, but at least they were dedicated to music. The MBA's and Hollywood lawyers who began infiltrating the industry in the eighties did not care if they were selling records, deodorant, or breakfast cereal. They wanted to make their names fast, build their resumes, and move on. In such a world there was no loyalty down, so there was no loyalty up. What Jim knew for sure about Barney and suspected about DeGaul was that they weren't leaving the record game until their corpses were dragged off the field. What other kind of boss was worth following? Jerusalem began playing and to Jim's relief sounded great. They were a real rarity-a four piece band with three solid singers and good original songs. The guitarist and focal point was a 22-year old woman who called herself Lilly Rope. Lilly was short and striking, with big brown eyes circled with dark makeup, thick black hair, and pale white skin. When Jim met Jerusalem, Lilly was pudgy and uncomfortable in the spotlight. In the last year she had lost her babyfat, found her cheekbones and become confident on stage. Jim figured Lilly for a star. Dick the bassist and Anthony the keyboard player wrote songs as good as Lilly's and supported her musically. Dick and Anthony had spent years in cover bands. That would be left out of their press bio, but the apprenticeship made them good players and helped them understand songwriting. Tonight their lessons were paying off. By the end of the week Jerusalem would have a few hundred thousand dollars and the promise of a recording career. Jim was proud of them for performing so well with their future riding on it. "They're good!" DeGaul said when the group went into their third song. "I love the drummer!" That was Mack Toomey, a Scottish kid Jim had recommended when the band's previous drummer missed a gig because he got drunk and snorted Ajax. Mack was a strong musician with a great attitude and the bonus of being shockingly handsome. James Dean, Brad Pitt-Mack invited comparison to all the himbo icons. Women followed him down the street. His Scottish accent and a genuinely happy, open manner added to his charm. When Jim fixed up Jerusalem with Mack, he knew they had everything. The set ended, the band walked off, came back and did an encore, walked off again, and came back and started packing their gear so the next act could set up. Jim excused himself from the table. He went to find Barney. "What do you think, B?" "That last song was good. Did she write that?" "The bass player wrote that one. Barney, this group has three writers. They're bullet-proof. We have to get them signed now or WorldWide is going to grab them." Barney's pixie eyebrows shot up. "I saw you fraternizing with Zoey Pavlov. I hope you washed." "You've got to come say hi to the band. You're with me on this, right?" "I would dig to China with a spoon, Jim, if you told me it was the way to go." "I want to offer them three hundred up front, a hundred when they deliver the album, and two hundred for each of the next three, okay?" "Hold onto that as a fallback. Watch Daddy work this." That made Jim shake. Barney's nickname at work was "Mr. Mxyzptlk" after the mischievous imp in Superman comics. There was no end to the havoc Barney could wreak when the impulse took him. Barney was off to meet the band. Jim hurried after him, praying that he would not queer the deal. The small dressing room was buzzing. It smelled of new sweat and old beer. There were too many people cramped in the small space, all congratulating Jerusalem and trying to grab a corner of their coattails. The Rolling Stone writer looked like he was composing an "I-Knew-Them-When" scenario to pull out when they were platinum. A couple of lower-east-side girlfriends were mentally counting the rooms of their honeymoon mansions, ignorant of the sad inevitability that by the time those mansions were bought, their places would be taken by fashion models and actresses. Jim surveyed the scene like Santa peeking down a chimney. He grabbed the Jerusalem member closest to the door. "That was a great one, Dick! You know Barney Whippet, my boss." Dick took the cigarette out of his mouth to say hi and Barney loomed up against him, gazing into his eyes. "You wrote that song 'Daytime Nighttime Girl.' That is a great, great song. I could hear Madness or the Specials doing that." "Oh, thanks, Barney. Yeah, it's got that bluebeat thing in it." And with that they were off. Jim tuned out Barney telling Dick about his involvement with the Sex Pistols, Stiff, Chrissie Hynde, Joe Strummer. The old ringmaster would wow the boy with his proximity to history and inside gossip about the giants of yore. 1978 was Yore. By the end of Barney's rap Dick would beg to log his band's name in Barney's Big Book of Rock Stars I Have Touched. Jim panned the room looking for Lilly, the frontwoman, and was bugged to see her crouched over a bottle with her lawyer and Zoey Pavlov. At least DeGaul wasn't there. Mack, the beautiful Scottish drummer, stuck a beer in Jim's hand and smiled. "Are we partners, then?" He asked. "We're partners," Jim said. "Yeah!" Mack punched the air. Anthony, the keyboard player, joined them in a huddle. Jim and Mack nodded to him like secret agents exchanging signals. "Can we get Lilly out of here and go talk?" Jim asked. The two musicians said they'd take care of it fast. Jim went back to Barney, who was telling the bassist a horrible story about a famous pianist who had to play a whole tour standing up because a Dr. Pepper bottle broke off in his ass. Jim cringed but the young musician was appropriately impressed with Barney's historical depth. "We're going to go somewhere and talk," Jim told Barney and Dick. "Mack and Anthony are getting Lilly. Where do you guys want to go?" "My place on Christopher," Barney said. "Come on, I've got a stretch!" The boys separated Lilly from Zoey and steered the singer toward the door. Jim said to Catalano, Jerusalem's lawyer, "I'm taking the band over to Barney's house." "Give me the address, I might catch up with you in a bit," Catalano said. "I have to finish up with Zoey." Power play, Jim thought. The lawyer's taking a risk by not being there when the band sits down with Barney. But letting me know he's hobnobbing with Zoey is a warning that if we don't make a strong offer tonight, we'll blow the deal. Jim shrugged it off. They were going to make the deal. Barney was into it, he'd turned on the charm. If the lawyer didn't make life a little more miserable than it had to be he wouldn't be a lawyer. The band and Barney were already in the limo. On the way out of the club Jim bumped into DeGaul again. He was talking into a cell phone but he stopped when he saw Jim. "Cantone," he said. "I'm going to Odeon for dinner! Want to eat?" "I can't," Jim said, gesturing toward Barney's car. "I gotta work." "I'll be there a while. Come by later if you get done." Jim smiled and got in the limo. Barney had a hiphop CD blasting and was pouring brandy into crystal glasses and passing them to the laughing musicians for the short ride to his brownstone. Jim needed this deal to work out. He needed to justify sticking with Barney in the face of WorldWide's offer. Feast Records was as comfortable as an after-school job at the soda shop. As long as he stayed there Jim could tell himself that he was a free spirit, outside the mainstream. He could hang onto the belief that his destiny was still unwritten. If he moved to WorldWide and up the corporate ladder there would be no denying that he had turned into a man who made his choices based on assessing his professional options, taking the long view, building his resume. He'd be admitting he had not a job, but a career. At the house, Barney switched off the alarms and led the band through the basement door into his big kitchen with oak tables, industrial stove and overstuffed couches. The house was elegant and uncharacteristically understated, Barney's wife's influence. It seemed weird to Jim that Barney had a wife. Alice Whippet still lived in England. She and Barney treated each other like grown siblings. They came together each winter for the Grammys, the Rainforest, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-the high holy days. Barney put on a Miles Davis CD and laid out sandwiches, wine, beer, caviar, chocolates and Fritos for the band. He praised them lavishly, recalling lyrics to songs he had just heard for the first time and remembering facts Jim had told him when Jim thought he was paying no attention. Barney speculated about producers the band might want to work with, exotic studios, and the possibilities of pulling a few strings to get them the opening spot on the next R.E.M. tour. He compared the decisions they would face with dilemmas he had solved for Oasis, Radiohead, and Bjork. The band were flattered, it was all going fine. Jim kept slipping into listening to the Miles Davis record. It summoned memories of his college dorm, his old girlfriend, driving across country after graduation. Then he'd snap back and force himself to focus on the conversation. Handsome Mack the drummer was keeping his equilibrium in the face of all Barney's complements. He asked some tough questions about promotion budgets, ad buys-all the things most bands don't think to ask about until their record comes out. Good for Mack, Jim figured. He wondered where the group's lawyer was. Was Zoey a real rival? Was this a test by Booth and DeGaul to see if Jim could be tackled at the goal line? A psychic alarm went off and Jim's attention jerked back to the conversation in front of him. Barney was pulling his Off-To-Britain move. "Listen, Jerusalem," he said, waving a flute of wine in the air like a man flagging down a plane, "I want to sign you to Feast and Jim wants to sign you to Feast. But we have a problem." Everybody sobered up fast. Jim felt his face flush. Barney went on: "I have to leave for Britain first thing tomorrow. No, look at the time. TODAY. The car takes me to the airport in five hours. I will be gone for four months. Feast cannot sign any act in the States until I get back. I had figured we'd pick this up again then, but after seeing you tonight, I don't want to wait." Barney pulled an envelope from his breast pocket. "This is a standard Feast recording contract. I am going to cross out all the standard parts." Barney whipped out a sharpie and began slashing and scribbling. "I am changing the term from seven years to ... what do you want? More? Less? Let's make it five, I don't want to tie you up for life. In five years I'll be crawling to get you to re-sign and Columbia, Warners, and WorldWide will all be offering you millions to betray me." This was the side of Barney Jim hated. No one was as shameless when it came to bullying insecure musicians and pinching pennies. Barney's crowning glory-still whispered about among managers and music lawyers-came during the disco era when a singer called Valentino, Feast's one true superstar, demanded to renegotiate his miserly record deal. Barney had signed him when he was Vinnie Mastratano, singing to backing tapes at New Jersey dance clubs, and he refused to increase his royalties when he began selling millions, making movies, dating screen stars, and adorning the cover of People. Second album multi-platinum, third album multi-platinum, Barney would not budge. He had Valentino for seven albums, he was his bird in the hand. It became a professional embarrassment to Valentino and his managers that he was earning dimes on his records while stars who sold far less earned dollars. Finally, Barney could keep him at bay no longer. So he played his greatest scene. He said he would talk about a new deal for Val, but only to Val, no lawyers, no managers, no intermediaries. That led to another round of screaming threats, but Barney said Here I stand . He said none of these white shoe shysters was around with his hand out when he found Val singing at wet T-shirt contests, and if Val was going to drag Barney over broken glass now, let him do it to his face. Valentino was no pushover, he wasn't afraid of a fight. Part of him liked the idea of personally choking a decent royalty out of Barney. So he spent a week getting prepped by his advisors on what to say, which were the key points, how much to demand, when he could compromise. Then he put on a business suit and went off to negotiate with the B-man. Valentino did not find Barney in his office. Barney had checked himself into Lenox Hill Hospital complaining of chest pains. Val had to negotiate with him through an oxygen tent, Barney gasping and wheezing the whole time. When Val told the Englishman he was making millions off him while holding him to a rotten deal Barney wept real tears about the ingratitude, and when Val asked for a retroactive adjustment in his royalties Barney screamed and grabbed his heart and set off all the alarms. The nurses ran in and jumped on his chest and shot adrenaline into him while Valentino stood there turning white. This went on for two hours. Val never got his new deal. For seven albums one of the biggest stars in the world was held to the same royalty rate as a first-time hair band. By the time his deal with Barney was done, so was disco. So was Valentino. Compared to what he was capable of, the bullshit Barney was now spraying at Jerusalem was fairy dust. "The standard advance is sixty thousand dollars for the first album and fifty for each album after that," Barney lied with schoolmarmish sincerity. "Let's double it across the board. This contract says you get paid a third on signing, a third on acceptance of your first album, and a third on release. I don't want you to have to wait-let's give you half on signing. That's thirty thousand dollars in your bank tomorrow morning. What else? Let's put in an obligation on our part to pay for ads in Billboard, Spin, and Rolling Stone. Non-recoupable. That should take care of your points, Mack. Good going, no one ever thinks to ask for that. Fair play to you. Anything else? I wish Barrister Catalano had been able to be here with us. Where did he go, Jim?" "He said he might come later," Jim mumbled. "I guess he has some other clients who need his attention at," Barney looked at the clock, "one in the morning. Well, what else? I want you four to feel great about signing with Feast tonight or I don't want you to sign. I will be back in April and if I am still alive and nothing has changed we could pick up the conversation, then. Lilly-you've been very quiet. Do you want to go through with this?" "I want to make records," Lilly said. She was slouched back on the couch with Anthony and Dick on either side of her. Her eyes were sleepy but her voice was strong. "We've been flirting with Jim for a year, trying to get to this point. It's a little strange that now we have to make a decision on the spot or go back to the end of the line." She looked at Jim. "I didn't realize we were up against such a deadline." Jim felt lousy. He didn't want to lose the band, and he might if he pissed them off or pissed Barney off at them. He hated this unnecessary scam. Barney was not going to England tomorrow. And the band did not have to sign the lame deal he was offering. But there was no way to tell them that without causing a fist fight. "Barney," Jim said, "Catalano's going to have issues. We could spend all the months from now until you get back haggling over the fine print." He looked at the band. "How this is supposed to get done is that Barney puts the contract in front of you and you take it to Catalano and he makes a hundred changes, then we change fifty of them back and after six months and twenty thousand dollars in lawyer bills, we end up where we all knew we were going to end up anyway. So can we do this? Barney, don't shoot me. Here is the furthest we could ever go: a million dollars for four albums, with a three album option after that." Barney shot Jim a look like a voodoo blowdart. Jim avoided Barney's evil eye and laid out for the band the fallback offer Barney had privately agreed to. "We pay you three hundred thousand dollars to sign. Remember, the album budget comes out of that. Don't think you're going to be buying new cars. When you deliver the album we give you another hundred grand. I can't write tour support into the contract, but I promise I'll fight to get some. We pay two hundred thousand for each of your next three albums but we do have an option to drop you after album number two. I hope that doesn't happen. I don't think it will. I think you guys are great. You have become everything I hoped you'd be when I first heard you play. But I'd be a liar if I said we might not fail. You and us. But even in that worst case, we'd have fronted you six hundred thousand dollars and put out at least two albums. Now if you can live with that, I can promise that there is nothing more you would get from us by holding out. There is nothing more Catalano could squeeze in six months of squeezing. One million for four albums is our best offer, that is our only offer, and I hope you take it." No one spoke. Barney looked at the clock and emptied a glass of wine, filled the same glass again, popped two pills in his mouth, and swallowed. Lilly leaned across the table, picked up Barney's pen and signed her name at the bottom of the contract. She pushed it toward Jim. She said, "Will you write in all those figures?" Jim smiled and looked at Barney, who shrugged. Jim scribbled in the numbers he had promised, and pushed his luck by crossing out several of Barney's sneakier subclauses, including ownership of the band's T-shirt licenses, soundtrack rights, and name. He passed the contract back to the musicians, who signed it with jokes and nervous laughter. Anthony fed Dick some caviar which he washed down with beer. The tension in the room gave way to giddiness. Amid the laughter and high fives, Jim saw Barney putting the contract in his coat pocket. He did not sign it himself, or give anyone in the band a copy. As the musicians got up to put on their coats and say goodnight, Barney pulled the handsome drummer Mack aside. "Could I ask you to stick around for a few minutes, Mack?" he said. "We really didn't resolve these issues you raised about promotion. Can we get that out of the way, too?" Mack was tickled. He liked the notion of taking care of business details that might elude his less-sophisticated bandmates. "That caviar made me hungry," Dick said happily. "Let's go get some breakfast." "Sure," Jim said. "There's a diner on Sixth." He looked over his shoulder at Barney, whose tufts of hair were taking on the aspect of horns. "See you in the morning, B," he said. "You forget, Jim," Barney said with a pointed grin, "I leave for Britain in the morning." For the next half hour Jim sat in a diner booth with Lilly, Dick and Anthony fiddling with his French fries and worrying that Barney was going to figure out a way to snatch defeat from the mouth of victory. Jerusa Excerpted from A and R by Bill Flanagan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.