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Marsha Vlasic, Michele Bernstein look to 2021

The US power agents reflect on the events of 2020 and offer predictions of a highly competitive year to come

By IQ on 18 Dec 2020

Michele Bernstein and Marsha Vlasic (L–R)

Michele Bernstein and Marsha Vlasic


As the worst year in the history of the live music business finally nears its end, IQ caught up with several industry leaders ahead of the new year, asking for their predictions for 2021, as well as the lessons they can take forward from 2020.

Here, Marsha Vlasic, president of Artist Group International, and Michele Bernstein, founder of Michi B Inc. and former partner at WME, talk livestreaming, vaccines and getting prepared for ‘Live 2.0’…


IQ: This year has been difficult, to put it mildly, but have there been any positive aspects you are taking forward from this annus horribilis?
MV
: Other than spending much-valued time with my family I really can’t think positive about having our lives controlled and halted this way.

MB: The ability to reset and make space for new ideas and concepts.

How has news of the coronavirus vaccine news changed the conversations you are having with artists, management, promoters, festivals, etc.?
MV
: I think most people are cautiously optimistic because we are all in such need of some good news.

We really don’t know when the bell will ring and when, and how fast it will be distributed, although the news coming from the UK is more promising.

MB: Conversations are very different. Plans are now very tentative and subject to change at a moment’s notice.

Livestreamed shows have shown that fans will pay to see their favourite acts remotely. How do you imagine this technology might develop when regular touring activity resumes?
MV
: Streaming has been very strong for me – my client Norah Jones charted as number one on Pollstar; Neil Young has done some beautiful live streams; Band of Horses have also, just to name a few of my encounters.

Having said that, hopefully it will not replace the live experience. I have had some success with the live streams, but there is nothing like the live show!

“Hopefully some amazing music will come out of bands’ experiences during this time”

What do you think the biggest challenges are going to be for Live 2.0, and how do you think industry leaders can best guide the business as things reopen?
MB
: We don’t know what the world will be like as we open up again.

That having been said: not flooding the marketplace with on sale traffic, remaining mindful and cautious that both volume and timing will play key roles in our shared recovery.

What advice or encouragement can you give to those who were hoping to break through in 2020, knowing that the market is going to be overcrowded with onsales when the industry gets back to work?
MB: Plan to seed the marketplace with some new content and redraft a new timeline/plan that includes a myriad of platforms.

MV: Hopefully there is always room for one more! I am sure every market will be saturated… Competition will be healthy, I hope.

Finally, are there any bad habits the industry had that you are hoping might disappear when normality returns?
MV
: I don’t believe so – business is business, and competition is healthy.

MB: Turning thoughtlessness into thoughtfulness.

MV: Hopefully – I use that word again – some great, amazing music will be coming out from bands’ experiences during this time. That could be really exciting.

I want my fucking life back!

 


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