22-Year-Old Sascha Guttfreund Has Made A Business Out of Bringing Hip-Hop’s Brightest to Texas
Sascha Guttfreund is young, but he’s hardly naive. Over the course of the past few years, the Los Angeles-raised and University of Texas at Austin-educated 22-year-old has established himself — and his Scoremore brand — as the preeminent hip-hop talent buyer in all of Texas. And we do mean all of it. When the biggest up-and-coming names in hip-hop (Big Sean, Curren$y, Chiddy Bang and so on) come to the four biggest cities in the state (Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio), you can pretty much rest assured that it’s because Scoremore has brought them to town.
Make no mistake, Guttfreund books electronic music sometimes too. But, without a doubt, it’s his hip-hop angle that’s earned him such a strong reputation in the talent-buying world — such a strong reputation, in fact, that he was tasked with booked two of the first shows at Austin’s new Emo’s East venue, as well as the the first-ever show at that city’s new Beauty Ballroom spot.
And he’s not stopping, not in the slightest. This weekend, he’s bringing Yelawolf to Texas and dropping him off for a sold-out stop at Trees on Saturday night. Next weekend, he’ll host Big K.R.I.T. at Trees on a Saturday as well. Expect that second show to run out of tickets soon, too.
Scoremore shows just sell out in Dallas. They have for the better part of two years now — and, no surprise, one of their shows did the same last month at Trees, when Kendrick Lamar came to town.
We caught up with Guttfreund outside of the venue at that show shortly after Lamar took the stage to talk about his rise in regional booking prominence, his methods and his thoughts on Dallas hip-hop as a whole — thoughts that haven gotten him in some trouble in the past.
How long have you been booking hip-hop shows in Dallas?
The first show in Dallas was Curren$y in April of 2010 at Trees. We’ve had an amazing relationship with Trees. Clint and Whitney are like family. The sound is amazing.
This is a little smaller of a room than you do in some other cities, though, right?
Yeah. This show [Kendrick Lamar] will play Trees in Dallas, but Warehouse Live in Houston, which is 1,300. But I’m loyal to Trees, unless it’s a situation where I actually have to use a bigger room.
Explain the whole ScoreMore booking philosophy to me as you see it. From my perspective, it’s pretty simple — you just book Texas tours for up-and-coming hip-hop acts and sometimes electronic acts.
Yeah, that’s the idea. It essentially started because Wiz Khalifa came to me and he complained about the promoters that he had to deal with in Dallas and Houston. I’m from Los Angeles originally, but I went to UT and I was tour managing Chiddy Bang and booking shows around their touring schedule while I was still in school. The first show I ever did were in September of ’08 when another promoter called me and asked me to help him promote a Schwayze show and I just went around to fraternities and sororities and knocked on doors and promoted it. But the big thing was that I was slinging ads at the Daily Texan. I was an account executive. And what I saw was that every business wanted to target the college demo, and I was just trying to find out a way to do it. Evenutally, by mistake and piece by piece, I figured out that what could work was having college students sell tickets based on commission. We’ve since built that up and now we have 42 students selling tickets in Austin alone for us, as well as a team in Houston and Dallas. In Dallas we probably have 25. The biggest difference between Austin and Dallas, though, is that the local hip-hop community here is much stronger. You have local hip-hop acts like A.Dd+ and Jay Fresh who are as effective at getting the word out as any college student is. In Austin, you don’t have that as much.
And now it’s a whole thing where pretty much any time a big up-and-coming rap act is coming through Texas, it’s pretty clear that it’s a ScoreMore tour.
Yeah, it really is. I mean, I have holes in my plans all over the place, but what I did was I had J. Cole booked in Austin, Houston and San Antonio for a tour, and saw that it might be able to work. I didn’t have any ins in Dallas. Then I met the guys from Matrimoney Clothing and they convinced me to book shows here. It was that Curren$y show. It took a loss, but they were like, “Well, fuck it. We’ll just sell clothes.” And, even though it was a loss, Curren$y came up to me after and was like, “Thank you so much for taking care of us. We couldn’t have done this without you.”
Well, Texas is a big state with some big markets.
It is. For sure. But the thing is, I didn’t have an investor and my parents aren’t loaded. I was waiting tables and bartending in Austin and just hustling. Then I became the talent buyer for Aces Lounge after booking Afroman on Mother’s Day, where all moms got in free and we did 460 people. After I became the buyer, I noticed that the agents weren’t hitting me up. So the only way I could win was by forcing avails. So I started to hit up artists that weren’t on tour and go and say, “Listen, I know you guys aren’t on tour right now, but I’ll fly you out and we can do Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio.”
That’s an attractive offer, I imagine.
Totally. And I told them, “Listen, I can’t afford to pay you 10 grand a night for each of these shows, but I can probably get you 30 grand for the four.” And they were fine with that.
At what point did it start to become apparent to these out-of-market performers that you were the guy to reach out to if you wanted to play this Texas swing?
It didn’t hit me until last year or so when I got booked to speak to the student bodies at the University of Illinois and at Indiana. I was like, “This shit is crazy.” Student groups were flying me to their school and we would shoot the shit about how to spend their student union money and how to promote rap shows in general. What’s funny is that I tried to be a part of the student union at UT, but they didn’t want to do any hip-hop shows! But the Texas thing is totally our signature. I was driving around with J. Cole as their tour manager — just me and his crew in my pickup truck. The game-changer for was when J. Cole was in the backseat and he said to me with his face in his hands, “I can’t believe that from Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Austin, Texas, people know the lyrics to my songs.” I wanted to turn around to him and say, “Duh!” A couple of weeks later, I get a phone call from him at 4:30 in the morning, and he’s like, “Yo, I gotta introduce you to my boy Kendrick Lamar.” And he puts him on the phone and Kendrick’s like, “Hey man, I need to get on a Texas tour!” And that was the moment when I realized it’s organic now — word-of-mouth within the artists themselves. That’s when I realized I had to keep going with it. They’re telling each other and then they’re hitting us up. They want to do it. It’s fucking cool, man. Big Sean has never done a show without us. Mac Miller, too. It’s been a blessing.
It seems so obvious and such a natural thing to book Texas swings like this. Are you surprised more people don’t book this way?
Well, other people are trying now. And that’s cool. But the thing is, with hip-hip, these guys just weren’t getting in vans and driving around the country to do shows. And now they are. I mean, just a few years ago, the concept of a Wiz Khalifa driving around in a van was crazy. But now he’s doing it and he’s making 150 grand a night. I mean, in most cases, it’s just about us being in the right place at the right time.
And you’re in New York these days?
Yeah, I work with Marc Ecko doing clothing collaborations with artists. But I do have my first New York show in February.
What’s next for ScoreMore as far as Texas and Dallas is concerned?
We’ve got Yelawolf and Big K.R.I.T. coming. And I just confirmed Slaughterhouse here, too, which I’m really stoked about, just because they’ve never toured on their own as headliners before.
Texas is still the model, though?
For sure. But I am expanding the market. We’re doing shows now in Baton Rouge and Lubbock.
What do you know about the Dallas hip-hop scene?
Probably not as much as I should. But that’s why I have the local reps. They book the local opening acts. The ones that I hear the most about are A.Dd+, for sure. Me, I really like Dustin Cavazos. His hustle is crazy, his music is dope. I really like Jay Fresh, too. He’s dope. His blend of electronic and hip-hop music is really smart. As far as Texas as a whole, there’s this kid from Houston named Doughbeezy. He’s the nastiest rapper. I’m telling you, to me, he’s the next from Texas to blow. I actually got in a lot of shit about some things I said about Dallas hip-hop at the Dallas Hip-Hop Summit.
Well, they were talking about “Dallas swag” and they kept using that term, saying that, in order to get on local radio, you need “Dallas swag,” and how come the rest of the country is sleeping on Dorrough or whatever.
Well, he went platinum.
Right, but how many tickets will he sell at the House of Blues. I mean, he’s a singles artist. Kendrick Lamar doesn’t have a single song on the radio and he’s out-selling him live.
But you’re not a radio guy.
No, I’m not. Some of my artists have made the radio, but that’s not what we’re trying to do.
So what’s next for ScoreMore overall?
Well, I’ve done 500 to 1,000 capacity rooms for the past two years, I’ve built up these relationships and I’ve developed in these markets. The next big thing is something outdoor, I think, in the 10,000 to 15,000 range.