Leadership / 11.18.20
Goldstar’s Wendi Lebow Imparts ‘Stellar’ Wisdom
This story is brought to you by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program.
Wendi Lebow, Chief Venue Officer for Goldstar Events Inc., has been in the live event business for over 20 years, but she has never seen a year like 2020. The pandemic hasn’t been kind to the industry — many of Lebow’s colleagues have been furloughed or laid off — but, luckily, Lebow has been keeping busy with a new venture.
Goldstar is a privately held event discovery service headquartered in Southern California that, since 2002, has sold tickets to leisure activities such as live theatre, concerts, sporting events and movie screenings. The company serves more than two dozen metro areas ranging from Los Angeles and Las Vegas to Chicago and New York City.
“Our primary goal is to get people to go to live entertainment more often and to build new audiences and revenues for our producing partners,” Lebow says. “During the pandemic, though, we began seeing a lot of online content being created — mostly free content — and we immediately pivoted Goldstar to promote online entertainment. Then, we recognized there were a lot of amazing producers starting to create paid online content. We realized there needed to be a total show management system for online events that incorporates ticketing, marketing and streaming. So, we’ve built up a new company called Stellar and launched it just over a month and a half ago. We’ve been promoting lots of great content, and producers are starting to make really good revenue during this time.”
For much of the second half of 2020, Lebow’s duties and responsibilities have centered on managing the two venue relations teams of Goldstar and Stellar. With so many theaters and performance venues dark, much of her focus has been on growing Stellar’s business.
“Being in startup mode during a pandemic has been an exciting and challenging thing,” she says. “I feel so lucky and inspired. I have some amazing founders. Instead of sitting back and just saying, ‘OK, we’ll wait until live is back,’ they’ve created something new that is also helping to generate revenue for the industry. We’re working from home, but it’s still super exciting to watch my colleagues create an event right in front of me.”
“At the same time,” she says, “it’s incredibly hard to see what is going on around us in the live entertainment space. I know a lot of people who have lost their jobs, and then there are other people who are just working so hard to keep their business alive. I feel for both. All I can do is stay laser-focused on what I’m doing with Stellar, because I know it is helping the business. There’s so much upside for the industry. If we can continue to grow this side of the business, we can hire, shows will get produced and people will make money. I’m really inspired by the people around me who are doing so much with smaller staffs and fewer resources. Stellar is helping keep people employed. It’s helping keep me employed!”
Lebow’s first jobs in the late 1990s included booking cabaret shows at the Duplex in New York City and as an Assistant Company Manager for “Stomp” for Richard Frankel Productions. She eventually moved to Los Angeles to work on “The Producers” during its West Coast tour. While working for TMG - The Marketing Group, she was recruited by Goldstar in 2006 and has been with the company ever since.
“I’ve been at Goldstar for 14 years this past month, and my favorite part of working here is that we’re always in growth mode,” Lebow says. “I also love working with producers of live entertainment. What they do is incredible for the community. Live entertainment can be such a big risk, money-wise. I get to talk to the people who make it happen every day, and it’s amazing.”
With so much experience, Lebow is eager to impart her wisdom on the next generation of women looking to achieve the same level of success she has realized. Her advice? “Right out of college, I decided to really listen to the people around me and take in their different strengths. Make sure you observe people. I think you learn a lot, especially early on, by identifying what you like and don’t like about the way business is done. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you can figure out what you love, where your place is and what you ultimately want. And then go for it! Don’t be afraid to move out of your comfort zone, either. That’s where you challenge yourself. When you say to yourself, ‘Oh, I don’t think I can do this,’ well, once you figure out how to do it, that will take you to the next level.”
As for what lies ahead, Lebow acknowledges that she doesn’t have a crystal ball for 2021 and beyond. “I definitely believe in the power of live streaming and online content to add to the business of live entertainment,” she says. “I don’t think it will ever replace it. But I think there will continue to be opportunities for live entertainment producers to change up their business model with online content. And that’s exciting! I’m excited to see where this all goes.”
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing