President, Leave Home Booking/NITO
COVID-19 left the concert business reeling and in a position it had never faced before. But it also galvanized fiercely independent groups throughout the industry. Take the National Independent Talent Organization, which brought together agents, managers and artists as they banded together to #SaveOurStages and, in many cases, their own businesses.
“Our weekly Zoom calls served as a form of group therapy in some ways,” says Stormy Shepherd, who for decades has run her own Leave Home Booking agency. “We all faced similar challenges and it was meaningful to explore our options together. Frank Riley, Nadia Prescher, Hank Sacks, Tom Chauncy, Wayne Forte, Lore Ledding, Dina Dusko and I are on multiple Zooms together each week and I consider them family. I have never worked for anyone in this industry or had a partner at Leave Home and cannot imagine what it would have been like to go through this alone. This group and our Board of Directors (Scott Sokol, Eric Dimenstein, Dave Shapiro, Paul Lohr, Mark Lourie, Jack Randall, Brad Madison, Bruce Houghton, Steve Schenck, Ted Kurland, Ami Spishock and Michel Vega) really offered hope, encouragement and unified to advocate for the survival of our industry. We have been through a lot of ups and downs together this past year in our combined efforts, and built some lasting friendships.”
As a co-founder and vice president of NITO, Shepherd helped educate politicians and policy makers about the plight of the concert business, which wasn’t always easy.
“I believe these calls, and the combined efforts of NITO and NIVA resulted in Save Our Stages receiving enough congressional support to be included in the Omnibus COVID-19 relief bill passed on Dec. 27 with a $15 billion allocation,” she says.
Although challenges remain, including still being unable to apply for the Shuttered Venue Operator Grants stipulated by Save Our Stages, Shepherd is confident the business will endure.
“This industry is made up of many people who pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps,” she says. “You are going to see these same people get creative and innovative once again to find ways to bring live music back.”