2024 Impact 50 Honoree: Josephine Vaccarello

Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp.

FIRST JOB IN THE BIZ: Administrative assistant at Radio City Music Hall

Josephine Headshot

As Executive Vice President, Live, for Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. Josephine Vaccarello, winner of Venue Executive of the Year at the 2023 Pollstar Awards, leads the live entertainment bookings business at an enviable portfolio of venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden and its eponymous Theater, Radio City Music Hall and The Beacon Theatre; and The Chicago Theatre. 

As if managing the traffic at those buildings isn’t enough — everyone wants to play the classics — Vacarello also books the desert dream factory that is Las Vegas’ Sphere, now approaching the first anniversary of its mind-boggling-and-bending debut with “U2:UV Achtung Baby Live at Sphere,” a 40-date celebration of the world’s most whizbang venue with one of the world’s great acts. Since U2 completed its 40 days in the desert, Sphere has hosted Phish for a four-night stand and is currently dazzling audiences with Dead & Company. 

But every show — from U2’s jaw-dropping spectacle to intimate nights at The Beacon are special: special for the fans, special for the acts and special to Vaccarello and her team.

“Opening Sphere was an incredible accomplishment for our team, and one that was years in the making. The experience of being there when U2 played their first show was something I’ll never forget,” she says. “Billy Joel’s 150th lifetime show at The Garden this July, and the conclusion of his record-setting residency will be a major moment.”

When you handle booking at such high-demand buildings, there’s always one overarching challenge: there’s only one MSG, one Radio City and one Beacon. And there’s only 365 days a year. And, at MSG, there’s Rangers and Knicks games 82 of those days (plus playoffs).

“The biggest challenge that we face is always scheduling,” Vaccarello says. “Consumer demand continues to increase and there’s overwhelming interest from artists to play our venues.”

Increasingly, those artists aren’t just musicians — comedy has moved out of the club and into theaters and arenas. And though comedy is more multipolar than ever, New York is still one of its centers — and New York acts want to play the famous Big Apple buildings. Jerry Seinfeld has an ongoing Beacon residency and Sebastian Maniscalco has an MSG run ahead. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers and John Oliver, Trevor Noah, and Ali Wong have all played multiples at MSGE venues. Billy Joel and Harry Styles both proved that residencies aren’t just for Vegas and that concept is one Vaccarello believes is worth further exploration for more acts, in both music and comedy.

And if you want more innovation? Well, there’s a big globe at the corner of Sands Avenue and Koval Lane to stretch your mind.

“At Sphere, every time a new band or artist plays the venue, it’s an opportunity for innovation,” she says. “We’re just scratching the surface with the different ways artists can use Sphere and its immersive technologies to realize a totally new vision for a live entertainment experience.” 

Since getting her start more than a quarter century ago, Vaccarello has risen to the tip-top of the live business, but she always remembers: it’s all about the magic.

“Each time I walk into one of our sold-out events and see the crowd enjoying their favorite artist, it’s a reminder of why we do what we do and the importance of live entertainment,” she  says.