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The Business End of the Music Business

The Business End of the Music Business

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I’m a charitable soul but, honestly, Jonty is a fat idiot.He’s that special kind of idiot, filled with a sense of his own importance and a galloping self-regard, an example for all to follow of how to fall upwards in the music business.


Jonty has built his career out of three things; his total inability to recognize a decent tune, an uncanny facility for always coming second in the race to catch the latest trend and his long-standing professional relationship with Clyde Brown, DopeTown Recordings’ MD. Jonty has something Clyde cant do without. He has been procuring the finest “get a bloomin’ move on” Colombia has to offer for Clyde since the mid 80s.

Did I mention that Jonty is fat? He is known throughout the business as Fat Jonty. He also possesses that odd sort of grace that some fat people have. Many fat people lumber. Jonty doesn’t. He kind of floats. Fat, floating Jonty the idiot.

I’m sitting on a showbiz standard fuchsia coloured sofa in the A&R reception area, pretending to be absorbed by last week’s Billboard, while in reality being furtively impressed by the Michelin-like charms of Jonty’s assistant. She did actually tell me her name when she met me at the lift but, as it was one of those desultory, music industry, no eye contact introductions, it has slipped my mind. Jade or something. I am entertaining the idea that I might ask her out but my musing is curtailed by a familiar wheeze and twenty-five-a-day hack announcing Jonty’s arrival.

It’s early for Jonty, not quite noon. He is somewhat the worse for wear. His hair is a motorway pile-up, he has two days worth of reluctant stubble and his eyes have that filmy, egg-white-shot-through-with-blood look that they have had almost every morning of his life since 1975.

“Mate. Moment. Bog,” he manages to exhale before disappearing round the corner, and I return to my covert ogling of what’s-her-names rack.

Two minutes later he emerges from the bathroom, a man transformed. Head erect, stride purposeful, eyes glittering like the Hope Diamond, jaw going like a jackhammer on a piece of Juicy Fruit and a tell tale white speck nestling treacherously beneath his left nostril.

“Mate! How’s it going?” he booms, extending a clammy palm which is impossible to grasp firmly.

“Mustn’t grumble, I suppose.”

“Come on in. Take a seat.”


His office is like Hamley’s after an especially violent bout of all in children’s wrestling. A migraine-inducing array of plastic clockwork dinosaurs, water pistols, gumball dispensers and Hotwheels cars adorns his desk. Every inch of wall space is covered with Disney posters, 1970s Hot Hits album covers and a single, solitary gold disc.

“So what can I do you for?”

I’m quietly pleased with my ability to hide my disgust at his use of such a corny expression, less so with his pitifully inadequate attention span.

“Actually, mate, I think it you who called me. Probably that Slime Aesthete & The Truckers demo I sent round last week.”


“Slime Aesthete &…….”

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“Yeah, that’ll be it. Hang on. It’s here somewhere.” He delves into his Alternative Tentacles bag. “Somewhere….”

Fortunately I have 20 tapes in my own bag and I toss one across the desk. He slips it into the B&O, flicks the remote and heaves his Converses up onto the corner of the desk. After a few bars of the intro he sniffs loudly, hawks up what I imagine to be the only solid matter to have passed through his aesophagus in the previous 18 hours, swallows it, leans over to his left, opens a drawer in his filing cabinet and withdraws a mail order catalogue, which he proceeds to leaf through while nodding his head just a fraction behind the beat.

A couple of minutes elapse with no perceptible reaction on Jonty’s part to my latest “Next Big Thing”. We’re just getting into the middle eight, a multi-layered, multi-tracked bliss-out of which Gilmour and Waters would not have been ashamed, when Jonty tears his gaze from the gold necklace he’s been admiring in the catalogue and looks across the desk at me. His stare alights on my box fresh pair of John Lobb battle boots.

He looks away, does a double take, grabs the remote, knocking a complaining Buzz Lightyear to the floor in the process, kills the sound and, wild-eyed, asks….


There seems little purpose in continuing the meeting.

Jonty mumbles something semi-audible about “demo time” and “lunch”. Since he hasn’t had lunch since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon and the Pistols hit number one in Jubilee week, that’s right out. In our hearts we both know it’s over, and in my mind I’m already at the next, probably fruitless label meeting.


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