Before Sascha Stone Gutfreund and Claire Bogle could get into the music business, they both had to hit rock bottom. Growing up in Los Angeles and New Mexico, respectively, the founders of Austin concert promoters ScoreMore Shows were sent to boarding schools and battled drug and alcohol addictions as teenagers. Coming out the other end wasn't easy. "I had to learn. I had to hit rock bottom," says Bogle. "God and music saved my life."
Getting to where they are today — running one of he state's most respected concert promotion companies — took plenty of hard work and accountability; Gutfreund recalls working several different jobs through his time at the University of Texas to pay off his student loans. But they had plenty of help along the way — and that, more than anything, has helped shape the vision of ScoreMore.
“A lot of people gave us opportunities and advice, and they really didn't need to because they didn’t personally benefit from giving us their guidance. I feel like it is our responsibility to pay it forward and lend a helping hand along the way,” Gutfreund says. “If we can do that by giving kids an internship, scholarship or a free ticket to a show because they show up and go to school, then that's our responsibility.”
Founded in 2009, ScoreMore employs a “for the students, by the students” concept that works with local organizations to curate festivals designed specifically to engage with students. Since its inception, ScoreMore has expanded into a cutting-edge promotional brand that advocates philanthropy for underrepresented voices and student involvement. They've hosted over 600 events in 11 different college markets in the past six years, including their JMBLYA Music Fest, which hits Dallas this Friday for the third year running.
“Showing up is only half the battle," Guttfreund says. "If in the beginning we have to push them along the way to show them that going to college is an attainable reality and provide a festival experience with it, then let's do it."
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That's why, in addition to community involvement with students, ScoreMore gives high school and college students the opportunity to intern and work directly with the company. Bogle and Gutfreund believe that every employee has to work his or her way up from the ground. Students must start on the street team handing out fliers before they can become, say, a show runner. “We want everyone to know what it's like to go through and work every job so that they are educated. There's nothing better than experience,” Bogle says.
ScoreMore doesn't give up on its students once they've finished their internships. Marketing director Edward Castillo is a former intern for the company who became ScoreMore’s first full time employee. As a regular attendee to ScoreMore's concerts and events, Castillo realized that the brains behind them people his own age.
“I started in 2011, and I didn't know what I was doing or where I was going," Castillo says. "I started from the bottom hanging posters to becoming the marketing director and negotiating advertisements and working with radio. Its all about passion, building relationships, and helping these kids grow and they help us grow as well."
This weekend, ScoreMore is hosting one of its most visible examples of student engagement, JMBLYA, in both Dallas (on Friday) and New Braunfels (on Saturday). Organized in conjunction with Support Our Students, last year it featured performances from artists Chance the Rapper and RiFF RaFF, with a student summit that preceded the festival. In the past, students have had the chance to speak directly to artists through meet-and-greets and explore the backstage ins and outs of production through career exploration and micro-mentoring.
Opportunities like that can help high school students see they can be part of the music industry without being a rapper. "ScoreMore is a business that students can see themselves becoming a part of," Support Our Students co-creator Christian Yazdanapah. For this year's show — which takes place at Deep Ellum Outdoors and features artists PARTYNEXTDOOR, Travis Scott, G-EAZY and Vic Mensa — ScoreMore is also giving out 200 free tickets to high school seniors who have filled out their FAFSA applications for college.
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Perhaps one or more of those students even has a future with ScoreMore.
“Music is for everybody. It touches everybody and in order to maintain growth we have to give back," says Bogle. "What are you doing if you aren’t giving back? When you get blessed, you pass it on.”
JMBLYA Music Fest with PARTYNEXTDOOR, Travis Scott, G-EAZY, Vic Mensa and more takes place at 12 p.m. Friday, June 19, at Deep Ellum Outdoors, 2551 Elm St., $25-$149