Leadership / 02.03.21
Phoebe Joecks: Professional Ticketing Chameleon
This story is brought to you by the INTIX Women in Entertainment Technology Program, proudly sponsored by Goldstar.
It’s no wonder that longtime industry pro Phoebe Joecks refers to herself as a “ticketing chameleon.” A quick look at her LinkedIn page provides all the proof one needs that the moniker is an appropriate one. For over 25 years, Joecks has served in all facets of ticketing and box office operations for a wide variety of venues and clients.
Early on in her career, she thrived in such roles as box office supervisor at the House of Blues, ticketing manager for the Denver Film Society and treasurer for The Denver Center for the Performing Arts. For four years running from 2009 to 2013, she was a theater manager for the Sundance Film Festival, managing the 10-day event’s volunteer staff and troubleshooting any problems with patrons and staff as they came up.
That’s just a handful of Joecks’ credits. For the most part, she has charted her own career path. For the last decade, she has been an independent contractor primarily focused on ticketing and running box offices.
Joecks is no longer based in Colorado, but in San Francisco. Naturally, she has friends and colleagues who are interested in what she does. And she takes inspiration from the Bay Area itself in offering them an analogy. “When people ask me what I do,” she says, “I liken myself to a tugboat captain who goes out and pilots the big ships and freighters in. Those large vessels can’t navigate the Bay. They must have a pilot who comes on the boat and drives them into safe harbor. So, I’ll go to a musical festival or a film festival and basically ‘drive their box office.’ Regardless of the festival, they’re all in the business of selling tickets and admissions. They just have a different clientele or different marketing approaches about how to get people to come to the events.”
Prior to the pandemic hitting, Joecks was taking steps to become more of a touring professional — working with various touring musicians and bands, Broadway road shows and so forth — because of the income possibilities. Like so many reading this, though, much of her work dried up in March, and career goals had to be put on hold.
Now, it’s all a matter of being ready to go when things return to some semblance of “normal.” “The challenge has been trying to stay relevant while everybody’s on the sidelines,” Joecks says. “We’re all waiting desperately to be put back in the game. COVID-19 has been the proverbial penalty box.”
She continues, “With no work, I’m trying to stay up on all the changes in the industry with regards to virtual events, streaming performances and so forth. I think we’re watching a big paradigm shift. Not only are venues going to have their paying customers when we can all finally go back and enjoy performances together in person, but there’s also still going to be the live streaming component that is going to be an added revenue stream that maybe wasn’t there before. Any promoter of any kind of event needs to know that the industry’s eyes have been opened to this. So, I’m keeping tabs and understanding the new shifts going forward. I’m staying engaged in the conversation going forward, and it’s a big conversation. The stage is becoming much more global than it was a year ago.”
During the lockdown, Joecks has participated in tour management webinars and various study groups that have produced networking opportunities. She has provided support to her husband, John Burton, CEO of UrsaLeo. The San Francisco-based startup specializes in digital twinning technology that maps physical assets to a digital platform — a technology that, Joecks says, “could very well be applied to the live event industry.”
She also found great value in attending and participating virtually in INTIX 2021. “My ultimate goal is to be at the top of whatever ‘who-to-work-with’ lists that are being made right now,” she says. “But I’ll need to feel comfortable being involved. Those who work box office and the ticketing walk-ups are, in a sense, the face of the event. Being in a safe environment is of utmost importance. The good news is I now know more people who have been vaccinated than have had COVID-19. That shift can only get more positive.”
Joecks was especially heartened to be the latest interviewee in our Women in Ticketing series of features. She’s quick to offer advice to any young women reading this who are looking to achieve some of the success she’s enjoyed. “Network, stay relevant and don’t burn any bridges,” she says. “But that really goes for anybody. Any gender, any person of color, etc. Be a good human!”
She concludes, “Also, despite everything, we can’t forget that this is an exciting industry to be in. I’ve been fortunate to have worked for and worked alongside some influential women in this industry. I don’t think about it as ‘I am a woman in the ticketing industry,’ but we want and deserve to have a seat at the table. The same goes for people of color. Nobody wants to be looked at as, ‘Oh, you are a woman. You are a person of color. You’re going to fit the bill for whatever diversity we need right now on our team.’ It’s like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, and it’s what we need to get to. Judge by the content of our character. Am I excited that there is now a vice president who is a woman? Of course! Because now there is a woman at that table in that seat. As for me, I’m happy to be a woman who has a voice and possibly some influence in my industry, but I don’t want that to be the defining quality about me.”
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Tags: Leadership , Women in Ticketing