Earlier this month, the National Association of Ticket Brokers (NATB) presented its Longevity awards for members of the ticketing industry with at least 50 years in the business, and for some of the recipients, it was clearly the honor of a lifetime.
“It was spine-tingling”, Carl Radler of Americana Tickets NY in New York City told TicketNews. “Everyone was just super in their reaction. I just felt a lot of good respect in an industry that I spent my whole life in.”
Though a family emergency kept him from attending the ceremony, Paul Moscoe of Ticket Time in Toronto, Ontario, felt the admiration of his colleagues miles away. “I had no idea I would get that particular award. It was really, truly an honor,” Moscoe said. Radler and Moscoe, along with Phil Reisel of the Herman Agar Company in Union City, NJ, and Moe Sell of Sell Ticket Service (award given posthumously) in Farmington, MI, were recipients of the NATB’s Gold Awards, recognizing a half-century of achievement in the business of ticketing.
Both Moscoe and Radler built their careers from their families’ modest ticketing businesses, Moscoe in Toronto’s concert and sporting events scene and Radler in Broadway and Manhattan-area events. “My dad started back in the 1920’s and I just jumped in after college and [serving in] the army,” recalled Radler. “I spent my career in the ticket industry.” Moscoe’s father had begun selling tickets to Toronto Maple Leafs hockey games many years before he joined the company in 1952.
Looking back at a lifetime of ticketing, Radler spoke fondly of artists and events that were memorable for him. “[Among my] favorite artists were the Rockettes. We took them to London to introduce them to Londoners, and I gave a speech in the Royal Albert Hall. The Londoners didn’t know who the Rockettes were when we came, but they sure knew them after that.” Radler also recalled his company’s involvement in closed-captioning’s early years, as viewers in New York City’s hotel ballrooms enjoyed live boxing matches held at Madison Square Garden.
Moscoe had the experience of a lifetime at one of his first concerts as a broker, Elvis Presley’s sole Toronto appearance in 1957. “He did a matinee and an evening show. At the time, the top price of [a concert ticket] was three dollars, and we got thirty to forty dollars per seat. There were thousands of girls yelling and screaming…I went into the second concert [that evening], and you couldn’t hear a thing because of the screaming”.
Both men reported amazement at the advances they have seen in the ticketing industry over their careers. Moscoe noted the globalization of the ticket market, moving from the custom of a face-to-face exchange of money for hard tickets to the ability to sell worldwide over the internet. Radler takes particular pride in his company’s pioneering of exclusive partnerships with airlines and hotels to coordinate sales and develop event packages. “When we got involved with the airline system, that was a massive move into [markets] all over the world. [This] system preceded the internet. In the ’70s, everything was hard wired all over the world. There were dedicated lines connecting the travel agents, suppliers and vendors. I was the only vendor [not related to] the air, car or hotel industry to come into the airline system.”
What do these ticketing veterans see for the future of the industry? Radler is cautiously optimistic about the resolution of tensions between the primary and secondary markets. “I see difficulties with competition from the primary market. [The secondary market] seems to be experiencing strain and problems, and so many of the brokers feel it’s getting to the end of the line. I’ve never had a feeling that anything’s going down. We’ve been through subway strikes, we’ve been through 9/11,and the industry has always bounced back. Our…end of the industry follows a particular code of ethics, it’s a big breakthrough for the industry that will hold it together, get it through all of this. I always have hope, [and] I’m here to do anything I can.”
Moscoe has been amazed at the explosion of ticket prices over the years and wonders where they will go next. “When tickets were three dollars, who’d ever dream that one day they would be one hundred fifty dollars? Where will it go in the future?” Moscoe also expressed much hope about his region’s ability to bounce back from the current global economic crisis. “Canada’s in better shape than any country, and Toronto is better off than any city in Canada. The concert market is strong, and business is good for us.” He was skeptical about the advent of paperless ticketing, expecting numerous problems to emerge with further use of the system, and he joined Radler in his optimism about the future of ticket resale: ”The secondary market will always be there.”