Pump Up the Volume

When Alain levy was executive vice president at PolyGram records in 1989, a representative for Island Records came to see him with an offer to sell the independent label for $300 million. Levy knew that Island's roster of popular acts, including U2 and Bob Marley, could boost PolyGram's efforts to build market share quickly. But there was a caveat: if Levy wanted the deal, it had to be inked before the agent left the premises. Business executives negotiate for weeks, even months, before spending that kind of money. Not Levy. By 1 a.m., the deal was sealed. "He had the brains...

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