Hip-Hop’s Hot Shot
Sascha Guttfreund of Scoremore Shows is a new kind of promoter, poised to take the lead in the rap game.
By Alison Stoos, photo by Hilary Pearson
“I worked at a car wash when I was 10, then I said, ‘F*** you guys. I’m going to start a car wash!’—at 11,” he remembers. “I only had three clients: my grand- mother, my mom [and] my dad. … I was was never really worried about failing.”
It’s that same confidence that led him to contact hip-hop artist Afroman while he was a student at the University of Texas at Austin and waiting tables at Texas Land & Cattle.
“I got [his] number on MySpace,” Guttfreund laughs. “It was sick.”
At the time, Guttfreund says he could relate to the Because I Got High lifestyle, and figured the rest of the student population at UT could too. When he realized he had a marketing opportunity with the students and hip-hop, Guttfreund’s success with the Afroman show led him to a job at Aces Lounge as a talent buyer, a job he says he didn’t fully understand at the time.
“I didn’t know what [the job] meant, but the owner of the club told me to book more shows like that one, so we did,” he says. “We used the ScoreMore [Shows] mentality of utilizing a team of college students, not only to market the shows, but to dictate what shows we booked in the first place.”
With a model that made sense to him, Guttfreund knew his love of music had to resonate with his peers at UT.
“I listen to music all day long,” he adds. “With college students, it just made sense.”
Five years later, armed with a promotional video showing hip-hop heavy hitters like Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller all singing ScoreMore Shows’ praises, Guttfreund seems to be making all the right moves. And yet, this wasn’t always the case.
UT continually earns high marks on its educational achievements, along with enviable (to some) spots on national rankings of the best party schools in America, an influence Guttfreund says he wasn’t immune to. The college lifestyle, coupled with the perks of being a hip-hop promoter, led him into what he now describes as “a lot of trouble.” A particular run- in with the university’s police department and a night spent downtown finally gave him the incentive to clean up his act.
“I just felt like there would be a certain amount of drinks and I’d be convinced I was Jay Z,” he says. “So I would do things that, in my mind, I should do, but they were really only things that Jay Z should do.”
Five years clean from all substances, including alcohol, Guttfreund has no regrets. Expressing gratitude for “a really amazing learning experience,” he now has his eyes set to the future of ScoreMore and maintaining the company’s core values.
Tried and true, the thing that set them apart in the beginning is still what makes ScoreMore “your favorite rapper’s favorite promoters,” the company slogan. A genuine admiration of every artist they promote, paired with some Southern hospitality, helped Guttfreund’s company charm its way to the top.
For the Afroman show, ScoreMore utilized the power of slow-roasted meat.
“We had a huge barbecue get-together with 20 of our friends before the show and cooked a bunch of delicious food, and [Afroman] came through and was so excited. He said no promoter had ever brought [him] a welcome barbecue,” Guttfreund recalls.
Even after ScoreMore’s success, Guttfreund remembers how it all started.
“We’re still super grassroots,” he insists. “Mac Miller came into town and it was his security guard’s birthday, so we threw him a birthday party. … We’re just going to do us, and that’s OK.”
And when asked about the future of ScoreMore, Guttfreund has an answer at the ready. Along with taking ScoreMore’s “taste-making abilities,” as described by the Dallas Observer in 2012, to the management world, Guttfreund sees the company continuing to expand into the tertiary music-festival market, following the hit success of Neon Desert in El Paso.
“LA, New York, Austin [and] Chicago have all these festivals, but there are so many amazing cities in this country that don’t have talent like that,” he says. “Who would have thought that El Paso, Texas, would be the home of a 30,000-person festival? We did that.”
Above all, Guttfreund wants to remain true to himself and his company.
“We pride ourselves in only doing shows for artists that A.) we feel like we understand, and B.) that we can support whether they’re hot or not,” he says. Although he never sees himself attempting to bring a festival to Austin (“It’s like bringing sand to the beach.”), he still has big plans. “Hopefully, in five years from now, you’ll look up and [see] ScoreMore has 10 festival properties, and hopefully, we sell one day to one of these industry giants.”
He pauses a moment, humble yet eager.
“Maybe not five years. I’m only 25,” he says. Even though it’s said as a cautious deferential from arrogance, coming from Guttfreund, it sounds all the more like a challenge, fixed with a promise.
It’s one of the most talked about unofficial South By Southwest shows every year, and it never has a set lineup. Thrown by ScoreMore Shows, The ILLMORE has attracted the likes of Macklemore, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne and Wiz Khalifa by word-of-mouth alone. The ILLMORE’s reputation precedes itself, with artists in the know already aware of the week’s most hyped house party. Typically running from Wednesday to Saturday, the music goes from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., depending on the night’s attendees and spur-of-the-moment performers, with various artists popping in and hopping onstage. Like any good house party, the atmosphere is intimate, eclectic and wild, coupling big-name hip-hop stars with eager fans, all in a tiny space. The ILLMORE is controlled chaos and a uniquely SXSW experience—one that promises to deliver once again.
Photo courtesy of ScoreMore Shows.