Sascha Stone Guttfreund started Scoremore at the age of 20 while attending the University of Texas (now a proud Texas Ex) and has quickly made a name for himself in the music industry. What started out as a fun hobby for Sascha has quickly turned into an empire. He is the definition of enterpreneurial success! Scoremore is a true grassroots company and he wants to keep it that way. It started in Austin,TX and now they produce shows in about 22 major cities. In two years Sascha has done what many people beyond his years only dream of accomplishing. Scoremore is a group of under 24 year olds absolutely dominating the music scene. They are either on tour (right now they are producing the Dom Kennedy tour) or they are producing huge concerts (always sellouts). If he doesn’t already have enough on his plate, Sascha also manages a few artists and works on a ton of other branding ventures. Scoremore was also the mastermind behind the biggest parties at SXSW…the Illmore. He knows what both the fans and the artist want and is always on top of the game. Sascha has an unerring sense of which talents are going to be a success and produces shows for them – and they stick with him after they get big.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED SELLING OUT VENUES LIKE THIS? IT’S PHENOMENAL – THERE A LOT OF VETERAN PRODUCERS THAT ARE NOT HAVING THE SUCCESS YOU ARE, EVEN WITH SOME BIGGER ACTS. WHY DO YOU THINK YOU’RE SUCCEEDING?
I got started because I had a senior promoter named Paul Magee who owns Global Groove that booked a show on the Monday immediately following Austin City Limits in September 2008. As you well know, doing any hard ticketed show the week of ACL or even the month of ACL is very difficult because so many people go to ACL. It’s particularly difficult to target the college demographic. So…this was a Schwayze concert. Paul called me because I was working with a local artist named Kevin Jack who I was helping sell tickets for his cd release party. I was just hungry, I really wanted it. Paul brought me Schwayze, who at the time was actually pretty big, he had his own show on MTV. It was not a hard sell.
What I did was went around to fraternities and sororities, and I built a team of about 10 college students, and basically went back to the promoter and said, “Hey listen, I’d like some wiggle room on
the tickets so I can pay these kids commission. We went out and sold 900 tickets in three weeks and the show sold out. The owners of the venue were blown away, the promoter who hired me was blown away. They were like “I’ve never even seen this crowd. How did you get them?” and I told them “well, these are just my friends, and my friend’s friends.”
It became the talk of the bar industry in Austin. I started doing the bottle service gigs, but I just wasn’t into it, I was into the music.
Later I thought, well what can I book for myself? Then came the ScoreMore Concept, by the students and for the students.
So I first thought of Afroman (laughs). Afroman made sense to me. I knew a lot of people who liked to relax and would enjoy listening to Afroman’s music. I used that same team of my friends and we sold 450 tickets on Mother’s Day.
From there I got offered the position of being a talent buyer at Ace’s Lounge, and I used that position to book all the acts that I wanted to see that nobody had heard of. Guys like Shwayze, Steve Aoki, Chiddy Bang, Travie McCoy, Wiz Khalifa, Taylor Gang, Big Sean, Swelly (Chiddy Bang). Each of those relationships budded into something else.
HOW MANY ARE ON YOUR TEAM NOW?
Now we are in about six markets and we have between 20-30 promoters each market.
ARE THEY ALL COLLEGE STUDENTS?
Yes, they’re all college students.
HOW HARD IS IT TO GET COLLEGE STUDENTS TO GO TO AN EVENT IF THEY’VE NEVER HEARD OF AN ARTIST?
In the beginning it’s much harder than it is now, now we have this resume. We can say Yo, how many promoters can say they did Wiz Khalifa in front of 120 people? Wiz Khalifa now plays 5000 person amphitheatres.
I think we’ve just proven ourselves as tastemakers over the course of time.
Now people know that if we book it, it’s cool and will eventually blow up.
I remember the first time I was taught brand is leverage, I put something on facebook and I got 60 likes, and I was like listen, like this if you’ve found out about an artist through Scoremore, and if you believe in our ability to judge talent come see Kendrick Lamar.
At the time, Kendrick Lamar was small, now he’s big, he’s just released a single on the radio featuring Dr. Dre, and he’s got this five million record deal. I remember having this moment, where I was like “shit, people believe in us! They’re willing to follow our lead.”
SO NOW YOU’RE TASTEMAKERS.
Yes, and it’s not me, it’s not Sascha. Scoremore has become the cultural ambassador of hip-hop for the youth of Texas, and soon a larger region than that.
OBVIOUSLY, IF YOU HAVE GONE INTO SIX MORE MARKETS
Actually we’ve gone into 13 markets total, but consistently we’re in six. We do Austin, Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City, Lubbock, San Antonio. But we’ve gone to Nashville, Bloomington Indiana, Champagne Illinois, Chicago, St. Louis and funny enough I’ve done some shows in Missoula Montana.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE FUTURE FOR SCOREMORE?
I think the future is a couple of things. I liken my business model to much more like a Cornerstone, or a Complex than I do to a LiveNation. Really what we are is a marketing platform for brands to reach the college demographic. By brands I don’t mean just corporate brands but artists because at the end of the day, artists are a brand. As an artist, if you don’t have a brand you don’t sell tickets. You see that all the time and people don’t realize that. Take Travie McCoy. He’s had so many hit singles, he’s so big in a popular context, but could he go and sell 3000 tickets? No he can’t because he doesn’t have a brand that people stand by. Whiz Khalifa has a Taylor Gang, Mac Miller has a Most Dope, Big Sean has Finally Famous, Chiddy Bang has Swelli. They have these brands, and electronic music is a brand in and of it’s own, the idea of dance music and having a good time and no strings attached. I don’t see Taylor Gang as any different from Sony. They’re both brands and they need to be marketed to consumers and they both have their idea of an aspirational customer. I feel I provide a platform for them to reach their target.
DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING TO STICK TO ONE GENRE OF MUSIC OR ARE YOU GOING TO BRANCH OUT TO ALL TYPES OF MUSIC?
If you look at the month of March and April, we have Colli Budz, which is a Reggae act, Zed’s Dead, which is a dubstep act, we have The Dream which is a R&B act, and a bunch of hip hop. My job is to provide music that kids want to see. Do they want to see a lot of hip hop right now? Yeah, hip hop is super big right now.
SO IS DUBSTEP. HOW DO YOU THINK DUBSTEP COMPARES TO HIP HOP AS FAR AS THE MARKET GOES? WHAT’S BIGGER? IS DUBSTEP COMING UP BEHIND HIP HOP AND OVERTAKING IT? WHAT DO YOU THINK?
I think they’re both comparable, they’re both huge. I wouldn’t been able to say that, but then this guy named Sonny that the world knows as Skrillex came and won five Grammys. You can’t argue that it’s not mainstream and not part of popular culture. I’m big on both of them. The biggest thing is that people try to draw the line between electronic crowds and hip hop crowds, and they’re missing it. I love it when people don’t get it, because that provides a huge opportunity for us to capitalize, but I think it’s the same fan base.
WHAT IS YOUR TASTE IN MUSIC?
I love everything. I listen to cheesy R&B, I listen to Avant, Wiz Khalifa, to Shawn, to Zed’s Dead and Skrillex. I love Reggae music, I love Slightly Stoopid. I listen to everything, I have an eclectic music taste. I listen to stuff I don’t get to book. I could never book Drake, I could never afford him, but I just think he’s amazing.
YOU’RE MAKING WAVES OUT THERE. HAVE YOU HAD BIG INVESTORS APPROACH YOU AND TRY TO CHANGE WHAT YOU’RE DOING?
(Laughs) Yeah, I have. I haven’t taken it though. This isn’t a race, it’s a marathon. I just turned 23. It’s like, I’m so young, I went from doing really small shows of 100 to now four or five thousand people. It’s been organic, and I’ve never borrowed money from anybody and I want to keep it that way. I believe in my brand and I believe in the people I surround myself with and I’m not looking for an easy way out. I’ve been offered jobs by bigger promoters and it’s the greatest compliment in the world. I like it when people say , “Hey, did you see all the hip hop on X festival or Y festival?” and they are doing the bigger shows in Texas. It’s really cool. I tip my hat, but deep down I think they’ve noticed what we’ve done and that’s really cool.
SO WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF NEXT YEAR? IS IT STILL GOING AT THE ORGANIC STAGE?
That’d be easy right? If I knew where I was going and I just let you know. I don’t know. I went from one market to three markets to four markets and now up to thirteen. We’ll be doing a branded tour. We do a lot of electronic shows, and we do a lot of hip hop shows. I’m interested in taking a hip hop act and an electronic act and blending them together for a branded tour. I’ve worked for Marc Ecko for the past year and learned a lot about the clothing business. I’ll be involved in clothing. I got hired to book some of the acts at Hang out Music Festival, which is a big festival out in Gulf Shores, Alabama. That was really cool, I saw 120,000 people over the course of a weekend. It would be awesome to be able to provide a platform like that to some of my guys, like Zed’s Dead or Mac Miller, who I put on the bill.
Festival wise I’d love that if the right partner came along and they had experience. The thing is I’m not a big fan of people who just want to throw money at things. I understand that if you have a lot of money it’s because you’ve made a lot of money. If you’ve made a lot of money, chances are you want to make more money. I don’t know if what I do is the best platform for making a whole bunch of money. The fact is, someone can give me a million bucks and I’ll only get $800,000 back. That happens, that’s the name of the game. I’d rather find a partner who gets it and if we were launch something together that would be great. I’ve had those talks, am I ready to announce it yet? Definitely not.
So…a festival and a branded tour, those are the things you are going to see from us. When it comes to this, I have a vision and whenever somebody else notices, it means the world to me. I’m just a kid that had a hobby, and the hobby became a career. When people ask “What do you want to be? “ It’s simple to me. As long as our trajectory remains consistent, I’m not worried about anything.
KUDOS, THIS IS SOMETHING THAT’S SORELY NEEDED IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY.