Leadership / 07.13.22
Maria Fulay Is Looking to Sell the Most Views . . . er, Tickets at the YouTube Theater
This story is brought to you by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program.
Every time I hear about an event being staged at the YouTube Theater, I have to chuckle a bit. YouTube has a theater? That website I visit to watch cat videos, the latest movie trailers and (I’m not proud) the old “Gangnam Style” music video for the 100th time? But the YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California, has emerged as one of the best places on the US's West Coast to see live music or theater shows. A relatively new venue, having opened last August, it’s located under the same structure that houses SoFi Stadium and is part of the landmark Hollywood Park entertainment complex.
Most importantly for our purposes, INTIX member Maria Fulay is its Senior Director of Ticket Operations. When asked what her main duties and responsibilities are in that post, she says, “This is my second venue opening, but I had a year off due to the pandemic. One of my primary duties was to get myself off the couch and get my a** back into gear! Officially, I oversee the daily ticket operations for YouTube Theater. I build, maintain and [am responsible for] event oversight and assessment of the 100-plus events annually.”
These events include everything from concerts and award shows to movie premieres, boxing events and more. Fulay also focuses on marketing and data analyzation to maximize capacities and revenue and serves as the department head, leading a team of a half-dozen staffers. “I’m also charged with keeping our partner, Live Nation, happy!”
For Fulay, it’s a dream job. Her passion for live music began when she was a teenager, working as an usher at the Hollywood Bowl. “Classical music took a while to grow on me,” she says, “but it was the idea of being in the moment. I ended up going back to the Hollywood Bowl in the summers while in college and even afterward. I had a good one-year run there as an usher, in retail and eventually at the box office. Life as I knew it was over. I got sucked into ticketing and never left!”
In 2007, she was part of the team that opened Microsoft Theater (previously Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE) with a six-night run of The Eagles and the then-Dixie Chicks. Over the years, she has been fortunate to have worked and experienced several iconic events, including: The Primetime Emmys, the American Music Awards, the ESPYs, The BET Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards, the MTV Movie Awards, The Game Awards, the People’s Choice Awards and an “American Idol” finale. Her credits also include the X Games and President Obama’s “30 Days to Victory” Concert.
Fast forward to 2021, and the YouTube Theater is indeed her second venue that she is a part of opening from the ground up. She says, “I wouldn’t be in this industry if I didn’t love live entertainment. But one of my other favorite things is the newness of it all — new venue, new city, new people, new challenges; creating efficient processes; and creating a team. I cannot do what I do and be as successful as I am without my team. Knowing I am partially responsible for the trajectory of their career is a lot of pressure, but it is pressure I welcome because it makes me a better leader and person.”
She says, “I am challenged every day. Whether its to tackle my inbox, a new event build that has its nuances, a client that wants to call me every day to discuss their event, learning something new in the ticketing system, how to handle difficult situations with my team or colleague, how to move inventory, rescale a house, improve processes, etc. I think the biggest challenge for me is turning things off.”
To this end, she confesses to finding herself sitting much more at her work desk most days than her couch. “Sometimes I forget how the rest of my apartment looks since I am in in my home office most of the time,” she says.
That said, it hasn’t always been easy for Fulay as she has climbed her way to such a position of responsibility. She remembers a time early in her career when she was struggling to fit in and get a grasp of the industry. “People I thought were going to be helpful ended up making it harder,” she says. “The excitement of a new job turned into a nightmare. It eventually got better, but I will never forget the feeling of helplessness and a sense of failure. It turns out that experience has been the foundation of my strength and determination. I vowed to never ever feel that way again. I made it a point to know everything and anything that came my way and made sure I was damn good at it. I put in the work, the hours, and I turned that struggle into motivation. My take away from that is . . . don’t let anyone keep you down!”
And this being our Women in Ticketing series, Fulay definitely has some words of wisdom for any young woman reading this and just starting out in the ticketing/live event business: “Ask yourself how many hats you can wear at the same time. Do you like long hours, no weekends, customers yelling at you, how many times can you answer the same questions over and over? Do you like seeing your friends and family? Just kidding! [laughing] Ask questions and take notes. Be curious and confident, crave new things, be passionate and purposeful in your words and actions, make mistakes, and always learn from them.”
Staying optimistic is also a must. “You have to be if you’re in ticketing,” she says. Fulay also recommends speaking up, but making sure to also listen. “You may not always be able to give 100% all the time, but you can definitely be yourself 100% of the time. Be prepared to juggle a thousand things at a time. Organized chaos becomes daily living. At some point, you’ll wonder why you’re even in ticketing. But then you feel the beat of the music, the excitement of the crowd and the look on everyone’s faces. You did that! You were a part of their joy. Lastly, know your worth and don’t be afraid to ask for it.”
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing