AGI’s Nick Storch: On Rescheduling Tours And Staying Positive

Nick Storch
– Nick Storch
AGI’s Nick Storch and his wife, Christina

Artist Group International agent Nick Storch represents a substantial roster of artists including As I Lay Dying, Blue October, The Fever 333, Frank Turner, “Kidz Bop Live,” Sevendust, Skinny Puppy,  Underoath, Tiger Army, and just announced a rescheduled tour for Monster Magnet. An AGI veteran, he’s seen his share of challenges, but nothing like the coronavirus pandemic gripping the globe. As such, there’s no roadmap or “How To” book to consult when it comes to rebooting the live business after what’s likely to be a prolonged shutdown. But Storch is learning as he goes and finding silver linings while the world waits for the show to get back on the road.

POLLSTAR: You have quickly rescheduled a tour for Monster Magnet and the dates are largely in January and February, much further out than other postponements we’ve heard about. What’s your thinking?

Nick Storch: In this specific instance, I have an artist who was willing to go do whatever it took to be in a good time of year. He was dependent on the tour but I’ve got an incredible staff working with me to get it done quickly.

How are you working? Do you find it easier or harder to get work done in the coronavirus environment?

We’re working from home but it’s actually made us work even harder together. We’re Face-Timing, communicating in Slack all day and I think everyone has a sense that, rather than get lost in the bad times, let’s just focus on the future and work together and let that be what drives us.

On the promoter side, everyone’s been really fantastic. Ninety-nine percent of the people we’ve been working with have been moving fast and trying to help everybody. I’m trying to give that same energy back to people. If I get challenged on a date for a reschedule, I’m not pushing back against other people but trying to see how we can all work together.

How did you reschedule? With so many tours facing rerouting against tours that are already booked for fall and winter, doesn’t that create a bit of a logjam?

We just kind of rerouted the tour. We picked a time period and tried to limit to the exact same days of the week that the tour was originally on, and just blasted it out to all the promoters on blind copy. It’s not the typical style of doing things, but there’s a tremendous amount of pressure to get this all rebooked.

Everyone’s on the same page and the promoters see what we’re trying to do. Everyone can see it and everyone’s been really helpful in booking these tours. Now we have to ask why we were slow in booking in the past in comparison. (laughs)

As we know, nobody gets paid until the show plays. With a gigantic hole in everyone’s schedule, there’s legitimate fear for smaller business’s survival. Do you see a ‘circle the wagons’ approach or is everyone looking out for number one?

I haven’t had any direct conversations with people about this but my sense of what could be happening, if you look at this from a top-down approach, is there’s not a lack of leadership and guidance on what the threat really has been. I think the dire urgency of this is starting to become clear to most people. But nobody wrote a playbook for how to deal with this in the music business. So we’re all trying to use our best faces with each other and I think everybody is starting to drop their attitudes and their games and just saying, “How do we get through this? How do we come up with a workable solution to take care of the artists, which then will trickle down and take care of the other people?”

I keep saying we have to look for the silver lining and find the positive takeaway here. It feels like a reset of sorts. I’m painfully concerned about all the folks that are going to be financially devastated by this. Everyone’s trying to make do and take care of their people. I’m spending less time on the phone, I must say, but I think everybody’s responding to emails super quickly and just trying to get caught up so we can catch our breath instead of getting lost in the reschedule.

Speaking of the reschedule, how is that going to look? Will everyone come online at once? And then what?

I’m almost more terrified by the thought of what happens once we get everything rescheduled. You take the busiest time period in the entire calendar year and you put a season and a half worth of business, and try to jam it into one season. It’s a terrifying proposition. And the folks that are going to these shows, they don’t have that much disposable income to go to two seasons’ worth of shows in one season. I don’t know.

Everything is changing by the day, by the hour. There’s no script for what to do as it’s happening with each other. I think we’re just in one sense look to the future of course but also to take it day by day because the information’s changing. It’s Sunday night and the CDC rules are changing to eight weeks. Now summer festivals are having to reevaluate when they’ll be able to start. It was, “June will be fine” and now there’s rumblings about a significant number of festivals moving. The answers will only become clear with each day passing and hopefully a sense that this thing is being contained and dealt with. But I think we’re still a ways away from that.

I think there is a sense of reality settling in with everybody but I think you can go too far down that rabbit hole, you read the news too much and you read Twitter too much and get into not a good place. We need to get these things rescheduled, working together and drop the attitude and forget about the old ways for a minute. This is a new scenario and we’ve never been through this before. We are going to just have to take it as it comes.

What do you make of the task force created by Live Nation, AEG and some of the major agencies to address the crisis?

It’s time. I see a silver lining here. Whether that takes root and has a profound impact, it’s too early to say but I think we’re all reminded of the fragility of what it is we do and our place in the world with our chosen path.

How are you using your time, not working in an office or being on the road with your artists?

I’m trying to focus on the golden opportunity I have to be with my family every day and get tighter with my coworkers and be grateful that I have them. I don’t want to get too lost going down the negativity route. I’m sure I’ll have my days but for now that’s really where my head’s at.

None of us knows what’s going to happen here. None of us. But I think we do have to take a step back. We’re all trying to fix this little version of a worldwide problem. We’re not curing cancer here. But I do believe in my heart we will get through this. There’s going to be a new normal, but we will get through this.