Marsha Vlasic, President, AGI

Marsha Vlasic

President, Artist Group International

Marsha Vlasic

Marsha Vlasic is a Hall of Famer and live industry treasure which  reflected in the stratospheric caliber of her roster she’s built over decades: Neil Young, Iggy Pop, P.J. Harvey, Elvis Costello, Norah Jones, Regina Spektor, The Strokes, The Breeders, Cage The Elephant, Fleet Foxes, and most recently Jane’s Addiction, among others. By themselves, her artists could make for the large font headliners of an awesome festival. When asked how she does it, she can’t quite put it into words, but it may have something to do with her DNA.

“Maybe it’s the Jewish mother in me,” Vlasic says laughing. “I have unique relationships with my artists that most agents do not. I don’t play the role as manager. I don’t step on the manager’s toes. I’m completely respectful of the manager but yet I have personal relationships. On any given day, if you look at my phone, Elvis calls me. We speak five times a week. Regina, Norah, Matt Schultz and Brad Schultz [of Cage]. I had a Zoom call with the Breeders the other day. Neil calls all the time. I have those kinds of relationships and I cherish them. And I’m very respectful of them as well. And my relationship with The Strokes, each individual member, I was texting with Albert [Hammond] last night. And Iggy…a day doesn’t go by where I don’t communicate with my artists. And it’s very sincere and genuine. And it’s very important to me.”

Vlasic won’t reveal what specifically is discussed, but says her relationships with her clients transcend the confines of business. “My conversations and my relationships with them are about life, what’s happening in the business, what’s happening with this one, with that one. Why did I think of that or why did I think of this? I am of an older demographic and I think there’s a certain amount of respect for my…maybe wisdom? Mostly everything is not from books. It’s from feelings and instinct and a lot of the conversations are based on that.”

With her accumulated agent experience in the live business trenches for some five decades, dating back to her days at American Talent International , Vlasic’s knowledge of the business and her accomplishments are vast; but in this throw-everything-you-know-out-the-window of a year, she openly admits what so my refuse to acknowledge: “I don’t know,” she says, when asked about the industry’s comeback. “At the beginning of this, when this all started, I remember a friend of mine, we were talking, and we said, “We never use the term, ‘I don’t know,’ as often as we use it now.” And that hasn’t stopped. I don’t know anything.”

That thought, however, is most certainly hyperbolic. When the industry went down last year, Vlasic was knee-deep in her artist’s tours. “A year ago this week was when all hell broke loose.” She says. “The Strokes were supposed to play the Forum. The show was Saturday night, and I had flown out to L.A. for it. And I was scheduled to go home on Sunday. I think Tame Impala was the night before. So we figured for sure we’ll be able to play but the difference of 24 hours was so extraordinary that we really had to cancel. And so we moved it to May 15th of 2020, thinking, ‘Oh, two months. We’ll be fine. No problem.’ And then those two months came and went. And we knew we had to move it again, and we moved it to May of 2021, which we know we have to move again. We’re just trying to figure it all out.”

Vlasic mentions two esteemed colleagues who helped her navigate this most challenging of all years and bring her some degree of sanity. “Dennis Arfa and myself spent a lot of time talking to each other and commiserating on situations, she says of Artist Group International’s founder and brilliant strategist. “It helped us through certain days of trying to figure out what the next day was going to bring for us.

“Rosemary Carroll and I would talk pretty much on a daily basis,” Vlasic says of the widely-admired entertainment lawyer at Carroll, Guido & Groffman. “I think you needed to have people that you trusted and feel safe with.”

With constant communication with her artits, Vlasic is well-steeped in all their activities— who’s recorded new music, doing livestreams, reissues and/or collaborations, who’s considering a residency or engaging in philanthropic activities—and, like everyone else in this business, she just hopes the industry ramps back up sooner than later. “I do feel the fall has a shot,” she says, “bu it’s hard to go from living in a bubble for a year to standing in a festival with fifty to a hundred-thousand people…I don’t know.”