Set in the early/mid-1970s, the life and times of a record executive, Richie Finestra (played by Bobby Cannavale). His record company, American Century, has fallen on hard times and he is busy negotiating its sale to Polygram Records. We see how he started in the industry, the start of his company, its ups and downs, the casualties of his progress and what rock music means to him. Meanwhile, he is also an accessory to a murder.
New York City, 1973. Together with his partners, Richie Finestra, president of American Century Records, is on the verge of selling his struggling company to German Polygram, in a deal that includes an impending distribution agreement with Led Zeppelin. But after a disastrous meeting, it's clear that the sale is in jeopardy.
With German Polygram executives in town to complete the deal for American Century, Richie delivers a bombshell that shocks the prospective buyers, as well as his partners, Zak Yankovich, ACR's head of promotions, and Skip Fontaine, head of sales. When the dust settles, the Germans storm out of the ACR offices, leaving Richie to face the ire of Zak, Skip and company attorney Scott Levitt.
At a record producers' banquet honoring Maury Gold, Richie is embarrassed when the emcee, rival record exec Jackie Jervis, makes a joke about the failed German Polygram deal. Later, Maury and mob cohort Corrado Galasso pay a visit to American Century to probe a detective's recent inquiry, and Joe Corso drops by to pitch Richie a demo by his banquet date, Nora.
Richie's counseling session with Devon brings out his uglier side, which she uses as ammunition during a meeting with an attorney, but he turns on the charm to woo a funk superstar. Meanwhile, Zak and Scott ponder their futures in the wake of the Polygram catastrophe; the Nasty Bits look for a new manager; and Skip strikes out trying to get rid of bootlegs.
Devon joins Richie for dinner with Hannibal and Cece to help keep an important client in-house. Meanwhile, Kip is in danger of sabotaging a gig opening for the New York Dolls if he doesn't shake up the band; Richie tries to poach a known talent from a rival; and Jack gets a new job after a tense meeting with Julie.
Devon seeks refuge at the Chelsea Hotel with Ingrid, a friend from her Warhol days. Meanwhile, Richie falls into a deeper well of drugs and depravity, enabled by Ingrid’s nihilistic boyfriend, Ernst. Andrea Zito rejoins American Century and immediately outlines her plans to revive the label. Kip follows an unlikely path towards recruiting Alex, a new lead guitarist for the Nasty Bits. Zak allows his raw emotions to surface at the end of his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah.
Looking to raise cash for his label, a newly sober Richie flies to LA with Zak, hoping to sell the company jet to Lou Meshejian, a rival record exec. After attending a beachfront party teeming with many of Lou’s music clients, Richie and Zak head to Las Vegas in hopes of somehow convincing Elvis Presley and his manager, Colonel Parker, that the King should ditch his label and sign with American Century. The detour includes a steamy encounter in which Zak’s fantasies come true, at a price.
Rebuffed by a loan officer with high-school ties to Zak, a desperate Richie approaches Maury about doing a deal with Galasso. Devon and Ingrid make the scene at Max’s Kansas City, where Devon impresses photographer Billy McVicar with her ability to charm a major celebrity into giving up his photo. Tasked by Richie to come up with a new song, Kip and the Nasty Bits get a crash course in the blues from Lester. Andrea fires a longtime American Century employee, angering Richie. Clark finds musical enlightenment from Jorge, his onetime mailroom nemesis.
After an unsettling visit with Devon and the kids, Richie weighs his options as the heat surrounding the Buck Rogers murder case is turned up. Thrown out of her aunt’s townhouse, Jamie crashes with Kip as the Nasty Bits finish their record and do a photo shoot. At American Century, Maury Gold pitches a ‘50s compilation LP, while Zak tries to fund a band for his wedding singer, Gary, aka “Xavier.” Clark and Jorge bond over an Indigo tune.