Marsha Vlasic is in a class all her own when it comes to her career, successes and approach to super-serving her clients who include some of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful artists of our time.
“First of all, I adore every single one of my artists,” she says. “There is not an artist I represent that I don’t want to see live, that I don’t want to be friends with, that I don’t feel comfortable having lunch with or an intimate conversation. I have very unique relationships with my artists.”
This she says with a full understanding of the importance of staying in her lane. “I don’t step on managers’ toes, though,” she says. “I don’t want to be the manager. I am just somebody who cares. I like having relationships and I adore my clients.”
Which helps explains why she worked with Elvis Costello for his entire career, Neil Young for more than 40 years, Iggy Pop for over 20 and The Strokes since their inception.
In her busy year ahead, she’s paired Costello with Blondie; put Regina Spektor on Broadway for a five-show run at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre; has Cyndi Lauper at the Hollywood Bowl with the L.A. Philharmonic for two nights in July; packaged her client Cage The Elephant with Beck for a 30-date run of mostly sheds (working with CAA’s Marlene Tsuchii and manager John Silva); has Norah Jones in tertiary and secondary markets and a sold-out Red Rocks show; and Young headlining BottleRock after several NW solo dates (in Vancouver with Costello); and The Strokes at the Wiltern for homeless benefit show before doing five U.S. festivals.
Vlasic’s illustrious career, which included working as Bob Dylan’s agent for 13 years as well as stints with Lou Reed, AC/DC, Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne, is all the more incredible when one considers how she first came into the business in the 1970s (Hint: it involved a go-go dancer).
“I had a boyfriend playing next door at the Copacabana,” she explains, “and the guy that owned the Copa then wouldn’t let the girlfriends of the band members stay in the room where they played, so you had to stay in the bar next door. And this go-go dancer there said that her managers needed somebody to run their office.”
Landing the job at that company where “everything was shady” and “nothing legit,” led Vlasic to American Talent International and eventually becoming an agent in an industry where she was one of only two other female agents in the entire business (Jane Geraghty and Barbara Skydel).
“I learned that I had to fight really hard for who I believed in,” Vlasic says of those early days. “I believed in myself. I believed I was competent and capable of performing the job and had to go about convincing people so that they would work with me and trust me.”
Looking back on her pioneering career Vlasic is thankful how things turned out and is still using her natural abilities to lead the business. “I feel incredibly fortunate,” she says. “I don’t have any musical background, I don’t have any musical education, but what I have is street smarts and instinct.”
Your favorite laminate:
I didn’t know you would ask that question, and I have 9 million of them.
The show that changed your life:
Live Aid and putting together the Bridge School Benefits. Every single one of those shows had an impact on my life and a labor love.
The best/worst career related advice you were ever given:
I worked for an agent who had many other acts and he was gonna leave to manage someone and I thought for sure, I was going to [move up]. But he wasn’t encouraging me to take over his job as an agent. He thought for sure, I was gonna be his secretary.
What would you like to tell your friends at record labels or radio:
Keep on trying to bring in new artists.
Where can you be found during a show:
Mostly by the soundboard or side stage.
Artist to watch breaking in the next year:
I’m hoping Cage the Elephant, because they’re the festival headliner and stadium act they want to be and I want to be right there to see it happen.
Agents that pretend they give a shit.
Technology that has most impacted your work or personal life: