Project Description

theatre.com buy broadway.com Showcall history of broadway internet

Theatre.com & Buy Broadway.com

Toby is the man pushing theatre, kicking and screaming, into cyberspace.

BuyBroadway

Founded as ShowCall turning on service on the evening of June 4, 1989 (to coincide with that years Tony Awards), evolved to the Worldwide Entertainment Network in late 1992 to officially launch in April 1993 with the advent of color and movement (the world wide web).  I then later formally established BuyBroadway Online Inc. (www.BuyBroadway.com; AOL keyword: Broadway; MSN keyword: Broadway; DigitalCities keyword Broadway; Compuserve keyword: Broadway) in December 1996 and re-branded to Theatre.com Inc. (www.theatre.com; AOL keyword: Broadway; MSN keyword: Broadway; Compuserve keyword: Broadway) in 1999 (formally launched at the Minskoff Theatre on Broadway with members of various Broadway casts).

Theatrecom Home Page 2000I was Founder and CEO for over a decade of my New York-based “800 pound gorilla” theatrical marketing company focussed on putting butts on seats.  I was as an evangelist, fortune teller, advisor, educator and negotiator, I personally envisioned, initiated, designed and oversaw the development the first ever web ticket sales system for Ticketmaster in 1995, I envisioned and produced the 1st theatrical live streaming events, established an online news network with global correspondents called BroadwayNow, sold the 1st theatrical souvenir and props online, and produced, designed, deployed and marketed over 100 Broadway, West End, touring and international websites and theatrical organizations online.

In these early days yahoo was a single page listing (my website was about the 25th listed).  Google did not exist.  Facebook, Instagram, etc.. were years away from imagination.  Mobile phones had no apps.  I built the 8th online shopping service on the internet licensing (for $85k) the Netscape e-commerce server.  Microsoft and I streamed the 1st ever video.  I developed cross-site single click logins. I created an affiliate sharing program for ticket and souvenir sales. I built a large (180k) community of theatre lovers. I developed marketing campaigns and cross promotions for all Broadway. I was giving speeches about Broadway and technology convergence at major events such as COMDEX, World Trade Center, Digital Hollywood and WindowWorld.

I was embracing technology.  I saw the future.

Others didn’t.  Eventually theatre.com turned into a publicly traded company in 1999 (VSX: EmNet) and thanks to an idiotic short-sighted public company board decision who chose to ignore my belief in the internet / tech future for Broadway and global theatre, forced a sale to the Broadway Television Network in 2000 for a little over $10m — a pittance in those days.  And so began my distrust of money people. (Crowd-funding, Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank did not exist back then).

Separate from my theatrical producing, stage management and production management, and prior to web based activities, in June 1989, I founded and designed the first ever internet initiative for the theatre industry, a Bulletin Board Service (BBS) entitled ShowCall, in conjunction with the League of American Theatres & Producers which came online on the evening of that years Tony Awards at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The dialup service offered theatre professionals access to Broadway touring schedules, box office reports, stage specs for the theatres across America, a communication forum, and access to logos and marketing materials for various shows.

In my capacity as head of buybroadway/theatre.com I personally designed and executed online websites and associated marketing campaigns for the vast majority (over 85%) of Broadway shows, theatrical events, individuals & theatre companies…

Victor Victoria website screenshot 1997VICTOR/VICTORIA was the FIRST show, 1st musical and 1st Broadway show to come onto the internet in early 1995.  I was one of the producers.  The website initially came from a desire to sell tickets to overseas tourists, at a time when Ticketmaster did not have any online presence, and no ability to handle foreign credit card transactions.  The site additionally included the first ever video clip streaming over the internet with Julie Andrews performing the film version of “Le Jazz Hot” — albeit smaller than a postage stamp.  The website was so successful within the Broadway industry, that my vision for online marketing became the catalyst for the majority of the Broadway industry to join me in establishing BuyBroadway in New York.

Toby Logo Opening Nights BroadcastsI produced the first ever live webcast from a Broadway Opening Night (PLAY ON in 1997), and followed up with a series of additional online broadcast’s sponsored by Microsoft, including, ANNIE, The Tony Awards, DAMN YANKEES with Jerry Lewis in London, the 10th anniversary of LES MISERABLES and THE CIVIL WAR.

I also produced many live chats, my favorite being with Arthur Miller and Brian Dennehy during the opening week of the Tony Award winning DEATH OF A SALESMAN, in conjunction with AOL which drew 8,000 users.

In addition, I developed and implemented launch campaign for Disney on Broadway for THE LION KING, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and Elton John & Tim Rice’s AIDA featuring around-the-world contests and extensive guerilla marketing along with the world’s first video email, from Elton John…

Broadway shows online history of broadway internet

Logo TheatreCom AniBroadway Theatrecom NewsDescribed by Variety Magazine as a “marketing powerhouse“, theatre.com was the single largest theatre community in the world.

From buying official Broadway tickets integrated with Telecharge and Ticketmaster along with purchasing souvenirs through all 100+ member sites, providing detailed global show listings, interactive show study & educational guides, live streaming shows and events, including many Broadway & West End Opening Nights, general public and exclusive industry news from major theatre journalists along with features from InTheater Magazine, official photographers photos and videos, many from backstage, games and quizzes and contests, providing a messaging system directly to Broadway show cast’s backstage or even licensing a musical, theatre.com offered it all in a single, easy-to-use interface to theatregoers across North America and globally.

ANNIE Coffee Mug BuyBroadway 1st sold onlineAffectionately dubbed the “Macy’s of Theatre Souvenirs” by The Mining Co — with over 4,000 theatrical products (souvenirs and props) for sale, it was the “Super Site of Broadway“.  The very first Broadway souvenir sold was an ANNIE Coffee Mug to a buyer in Brazil.

My companies 182,530 “Broadway Circle Club” members received late-breaking news, special ticket offers, contests to win trips to NY and special event invitations directly from shows producers and a single consolidated login across all member sites via a ‘Broadway Passport‘ that I established.

Broadway Circle Club Theatrecom   <