ABOUT SELLING OUT
I’ve got this ticket framed and stuck on the wall of my office. I didn’t sell it or buy it; it’s not from the Springsteen show I saw in high school, or The Book of Mormon on Broadway, or Celtics vs. Lakers in the NBA Finals.
It’s made of bronze; it’s 2,000 years old, and, if you’d bought it in Rome the day it was sold, you could have gone to the Circus Maximus and seen the chariot races. If you look at it closely, you can still make out a lot of details: the horses, the driver, the wheels. I keep it where I can see it because it’s a reminder that those of us who are in the live entertainment business — whether in theater, sports, music, comedy, performing arts or whatever — are in an ancient business. Older than every country on earth; older than most major religions; older than just about every human technology.
Long before my Roman ancestors spent hard-earned denarii to see the chariot-racing equivalent of Lebron James going for the title, people wanted to go somewhere, be with other people and see something special. Perhaps it started with the first cave dweller who could tell funny, spellbinding or thrilling stories, and who the rest of the cave people rewarded with extra slabs of mammoth meat. And even though we’re not trading prehistoric steak anymore, live entertainment moves us just as much as it did then. And that brings us to today.
We’re launching this site, Selling Out, as a resource, tool and meeting place for everybody whose job is to create, market or manage live entertainment. I’m your host, and I’ll write some things, but we’ll also have guest contributors, and, hopefully, you’ll participate too. If we do this right, we’ll all learn from each other.
Those of us in this business have an immense blessing: We’ve got the best product in all of entertainment. Think of entertainment as a pyramid, with the least interesting, cheapest but most easily accessible things at the bottom. Watching Daft Punk on YouTube, for example, is free, easy, kinda fun, but not really all that great. Nobody would pay for it, but in day-to-day life, people do it a lot.
That’s the bottom. But at the top of the pyramid, Live Entertainment is the king of the mountain. This costs the most and it’s relatively hard to “consume,” but it’s also by far the best.
My evidence for this?
People pay. They pay a lot for the privilege of being somewhere that live entertainment is happening. Even a $7 pay-at-the-door concert by an unknown musician, or a $10 small theater show, or a Tuesday night comedy showcase earn money from every person who comes through the door — at a rate envied by people in the fields of recorded music or video streaming. And when you get to the best, most valuable events … there’s almost no limit to what people will pay. In between these extremes is a vast, healthy ecosystem of content in many genres being produced in greater variety and quality — and in more places — than ever before.
Not only will people pay for live entertainment, but people actually care about it. Get someone started on the Springsteen show they went to, the day they saw the Lakers beat the Celtics for the championship or how many times they’ve seen Rent. They go crazy, bubbling over to tell you about it, until you probably wish you hadn’t asked. We all have to spend a lot of time in our lives on things that are hard to get excited about, but live entertainment doesn’t have that problem. By nature, our business is exciting.
But we’re in a funny moment right now. We’re blessed to be at the top of the pyramid, but we must do better. Live entertainment has its own disadvantages. It’s relatively inconvenient compared to playing Angry Birds on your phone; it’s expensive to produce and deliver; it happens in places outside the consumer’s home and only at specific times.
Our mission, as professionals in the production and marketing of live entertainment, can be expressed pretty simply: sell out. Connect with lots and lots of people, over and over again, and get them into the venue. But that’s not all. Once we get them there, we have to dazzle and delight them — give them that unforgettable thrill that comes from witnessing something special.
Sell out, so you can create more and more stuff for audiences to see, so you can sell that stuff out, too.
If that’s your job, and you want to do it better, you have found a place where our goal is to connect you to people and ideas that can help you do that: sell out. Sell everything you’ve got, so you can make more, so you can sell that out too.
This one may not be made of bronze, but I was looking at an old ticket of mine the other day. It was my ticket for KOOZA by Cirque Du Soleil a few years ago on the beach in Santa Monica. Two or three hours of pure fun, the show turned adults into kids throughout the audience. People looked up with wonder and awe and laughed out loud with astonishment and delight. But not just that. They looked at the people on stage and, by extension, everyone who had brought the show to life, and said, “I want to be more like that.” A little braver, a little more creative, a little more colorful and a little more fun.
That beautiful printed ticket will have long turned into dust, so no one will be looking at it in a frame on their office wall in 2,000 years. But what we in the world of live entertainment do today, all of us collectively, might have an impact that lasts that long. If we can bring delight and excitement to the lives of more people — and inspire that same sense of wanting to be better versions of ourselves after seeing a great performance — we can make the future.
And have a whole lot of fun in the process.
Blame it all on Dopey.
I was about 2 years old when I went to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarves live on stage. I can barely recall any visual memories from the day, but I can distinctly remember the feeling of excitement, electricity and magic that ran through the air before Dopey stepped out onto the stage to get the show started.
That magical feeling has stuck with me to this day, so it’s no surprise that I ended up the host of this site and the CEO of Goldstar. Goldstar is the world’s largest ticket booth, on a mission to drive out dullness and stir creativity by making live entertainment a part of our everyday world.
I launched this site for those of us whose job is to get people out to live entertainment; for those of us who want to share the pulsing, transforming energy of the live experience. We’re the people who are allergic to empty seats. We think it’s a tragedy when people miss a chance to see a great show, or take a fun tour, or watch an exciting game. We make it our mission to keep people from missing out on the live experience.
I’m a veteran of the internet industry. I like to say I’ve been present before and after every boom and bust the interwebs have seen. (I also don’t like to say “interwebs,” so I’m not going to do that again, and neither should you.) I had a floor seat for the original rise of e-commerce. It was the ’90s, and I was at GeoCities, where we worked with all the biggies (Amazon and the like) to try to make e-commerce work for hundreds of millions of people. That was tremendous fun and a great learning lab. I was hooked on e-commerce and all that the internet made possible. (Though to be fair, even I never contemplated the overwhelming power and importance of cat pictures.)
After a few years in the internet business, I joined my two very good friends, Rich Webster and Robert Graff, to start Goldstar. From the very beginning, we were committed to making people’s lives better through live entertainment, and to filling venues with new patrons far and wide. More than a decade later, we’re still at it and loving what we do.
To back up a bit (and stop me if you’ve heard this), I started how every high-powered internet entrepreneur did: First, an English degree (mostly poetry), then a two-year stint in Japan, then the West Coast launch of a hundred bagel restaurants. I know, I know, could I be more of a cliché?
But then, to prove that I could break out of the conventional mold, I got my MBA.
Since Goldstar’s founding in 2002, I’ve been hard at work combining business insight with real-world experience (and the memory of that first theater-going adventure) to figure out how to sell out venues — every day, everywhere, all the time. I love my job, partly because I love the stuff we sell. It’s not rare to catch me at a basketball game, or at a play, or in one of Cirque’s tents, or in some other cool environment where performers are laying it all on the line for the people in those seats. Because live entertainment is more than just a couple hours’ happy diversion. At its best, it’s a light shining into the darkest corners of life, driving away boredom and mediocrity, and making those of us in the seats better people than we were when we came in. It gives us something we can hold onto forever. It makes us more of who we are, and better.
I’m guessing you know what I mean, because you’re here. The purpose of this site is for us to all get better at this together.
The venue no longer exists, the band’s now broken up, and the event description is just one sentence long, but the first listing to go live on Goldstar — for L.A. pop-rockers Patchwork Symphony’s 2002 concert at The Gig on Melrose — captures the spirit of our company still today.
Founded by e-commerce veterans Jim McCarthy, Rich Webster and Robert Graff, Goldstar’s goal has always been to get people to go out more. Sure, we ended up selling only two half-price tickets to that first event — but that’s two more people who went out to a great live show, two more people who may well have become loyal fans of the band, and two more paying guests who walked through the venue’s door.
Now we do this countless times a day for a member base of millions in markets across the country. With thousands of active events from more than 5,000 venue partners, Goldstar’s offerings include great values in live music, theater, comedy, sports, cruises, circuses, tours, musicals and more.
We see empty seats — even just two of them — as missed opportunities. So we’re not only the world’s largest ticket booth, we’re also live entertainment’s loudest cheerleader, helping to make these memorable experiences part of everyday life for millions of people. By combining convenient technology, free membership and industry-leading customer service with a wide variety of affordable live entertainment options, Goldstar has created an unmatched online ticketing experience.
And it all started with one concert listing, two tickets and the enduring goal of getting people to go out more.
For more information about how to become a Goldstar Ticket Supplier, visit Goldstar.