Marsha Vlasic Honored At Canadian Music Week

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Marsha Vlasic, vice chair, music division, at Independent Artist Group, received two big awards from the Canadian Live Music Industry Awards in Toronto, June 4. (Grant Martin)

“Being a woman is not a liability; it’s an asset,” Marsha Vlasic declared at the conclusion of her short acceptance speech at the Canadian Live Music Industry Awards in Toronto, earlier this week where she was honored with two big awards.

The longtime agent and female trailblazer, vice chair of the music division at Independent Artist Group, got emotional after receiving awards for International Agent of the Year and Most Powerful Women in Live Music Award. She said it was “definitely an out of body experience.”

Three months ago, Pollstar inducted the trailblazer into the Women of Live Hall of Fame.

The two Canadian honors were presented back to back to Vlasic before hundreds of members of the Canadian music industry at the Westin Harbour Castle during Canadian Music Week, which Pollstar and VenuesNow parent company Oak View Group just purchased in partnership with Toronto’s The Loft from Neill Dixon.

Vlasic was an anomaly in the industry when she started in the ‘70s, one of the first female music agents. She even operated her own agency at one time. She has represented Canadian Neil Young for 40 years and more recently added another Canadian to her roster, Juno-Award winner William Prince. In the past year, she’s booked tours for Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Elvis Costello & Daryl Hall, Porno for Pyros, Jane’s Addiction, PJ Harvey, Cage The Elephant, Band of Horses, The Strokes, Norah Jones, The Breeders and Regina Spektor.

Erik Hoffman, president, music, at Live Nation Canada — who earlier that day interviewed Vlasic for a keynote conversation during the CMW conference — presented Vlasic with the second annual international agent trophy, calling her “a true force in our business.”

“Marsha’s career has seen her represent some of the world’s most celebrated artists,” he said. “Tonight, we celebrate her, but she has no plans on slowing down.”

He then threw to a tribute video and introduced Robyn Stewart, executive director of Women in Music Canada, to continue part two of the presentation, awarding Vlasic the inaugural Women In Live Music Award.

“As you’ve heard, Marsha Vlasic came from a poor Brooklyn family and broke into the music industry without any mentors. This is a curse of being the first, and it’s also a source of self-reliance and strength,” Stewart said. “People often refer to women having to act like one of the guys to make it in a man’s world, but Marsha forged relationships, and major musical artists, powerful figures who worked with her, found new ways of interacting with the person that does their dealmaking.”

Stewart then went off script and told a personal story that illustrates the heart of Vlasic.

“I have never met Marsha directly, but early in my career when I was talent buying for the Olympics in Vancouver, I wanted to book one of Marsha’s acts who was very large, and I was told, ‘You can call her, but she might not take your call. She’s very busy.’” Stewart recounted. “I called her, and she took my call every time, and she was lovely and caring, and I was so appreciative of that. So, I thank you very much, and with that, I call Marsha Vlasic the truly powerful woman to accept this award with our gratitude.”

Vlasic, who knew about both awards in advance, said she was able to “prepare a little bit” for her acceptance speech, but would not look at the teleprompter which had her name misspelled as “Martha,” she chuckled.

“I am truly, truly overwhelmed, and really emotional with pride to have got this. Truly I am,” she said. “I’ve been in this business for a lifetime, and I have never thought that when I started, my career would go on this path. Without the loyalty of my artists, none of this would have been possible. Without my family’s support, I couldn’t have juggled what I did as a wife and a mother.

“I thank you for this recognition, and I encourage all women, and hope that those who have the drive, passion, and fortitude that I did to one day follow in my footsteps and beyond. Being a woman is not a liability; it’s an asset,” she said to applause and cheers.

“From the bottom of my heart, this really is truly an honor.”