Clive was feeling expansive, probably because of the liquor. He figured there was no harm telling his charge what was what.
"Listen. It used to be, taking a guitar riff and looping it to make a guitar session was the height of fakery. Now it's standard procedure. Musicianship isn't valued anymore... what's valued is if you look good on the TV, or stick to your lines, or follow orders. It's not your imagination... all the new groups seem utterly useless because they're chosen like that. Because talent is a spanner in the works... it interferes with the pursuit of absolute profit. So it's got to be devalued and then eliminated. The star's got to be another employee, like the lady who brings the tea. They got to be tied to the apron strings, beholden to the company at every turn. The company's got to have total control. Celebrities would thank God for their fame, or their adoring public... now they're just grateful they aren't fired without warning, because they can be replaced at any time. They don't have any talent! One's as good as another. Do you think Keith Shotz and that lot could trash the green room if there was a chance of it offending their betters? That's a perquisite allowed to the band. It's not spontaneous. Anyway the cost of it is coming out of the band's cut.
"But the myth of the star as a powerful, influential person must remain." He pronounced it 'miff.' "No one's going to give a fuck about them otherwise. Who's goin to worship the lady who brings tea?"
"It would have to be awfully good tea," Lavender said.
Clive laughed, almost choking on it. "Yeah, see, that's exactly what I mean." He sipped his scotch. "Y'see, you're a liability. You're talented. The public loves you the moment they see and hear you. Those bastards would never touch you... they'd rather create a star from whole cloth then dispose of them as necessary. And that's where I come in. My talent is to make them believe you can be controlled. The agent is one part diplomat and two parts actor."
Lavender tilted her head and said, "How do you do that?"
"What, convince 'em? You know, a little fast talk, the old Clive magic. Sleight of hand. Show them something shiny and get 'em looking the other way."
He didn't tell her that recording contracts were engineered with precision, that company accountants made the IRS look witless in their awareness of value and cashflow.