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This is a company that generated a multimillion-dollar idea out of empty space. A company that was started by people that weren't legally old enough to purchase liquor. A company that might've altered not only the trajectory of the careers of a handful of modern day rap stars, but the way that rap concerts are booked/routed/promoted through the Southern part of the United States in general. And it all started with smoked signature sirloins.
"Before we started ScoreMore, I was a waiter at Texas Land and Cattle," says Sascha Stone Guttfreund, 24, who, alongside Claire Bogle, 21, operates ScoreMore from their Austin apartment. It's a less-than-four-year-old concert promotion company that grows exponentially in influence by the hour.
Guttfreund is talking while looking at a telephone speaker waiting for someone on the opposite side to pick up. When that someone, a front-desk employee at the Hilton in downtown Houston, does, he stops talking about foodstuffs and leans forward toward the phone. He offers a slight smile, his business instinct strong.
"Hey, how are you? What'd you say your name was?"
"Hey, nice to meet you. This is Sascha. Listen, I'm trying to get the Wi-Fi code."
"Okay. That's a $15 charge per room, sir," the other end says. Guttfreund leans in further.
"Is there anyway we can get that comped? We rented 17 rooms here this weekend," he notes warmly.
Tonight is a special night for ScoreMore. What started as a small company has grown into 80-hour workweeks and an almost unexpected amount of triumph. Sixteen of the rooms he mentioned are filled with either ScoreMore employees, of whom the total count has grown to more than 100 in a handful of different cities, or close associates and friends and family. The 17th room, that one belongs to Kendrick Lamar, an L.A.-based rap savant who spent large portions of 2012 becoming the most beloved, most buzzed-about rapper in the United States. His debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, is largely (and correctly) being referred to as brilliant. It sold more than 242,000 copies its first week, is up near 700,000 copies sold total, and has established him as a legitimate music superstar.
ScoreMore has scheduled two shows for Kendrick tonight. He'll perform an early show at Warehouse Live around 9:30 p.m. (it sold out weeks in advance), then a separate show at House of Blues around 11:30 p.m. (it also sold out weeks in advance). It's the first time in recent history anybody can remember anyone doing two shows on the same night at separate venues and (hopefully) will springboard ScoreMore fully into 2013, which will (hopefully) be their biggest year yet.
In addition to the 120-150 shows they're planning cumulatively for Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Lubbock and more, ScoreMore has also teamed up with Red Bull to play tastemaker for a handful of shows with them. There is talk of entering new markets, optioning new ventures, etc. And they even have a proud new business claim to tote, though they rarely do: In the last quarter of 2012, a private somebody offered to buy ScoreMore. There were two commas in the offer. And it wasn't enough.
Those things, plus the Kendrick shows, they equal the potential for something incredible. And everyone has obviously worked very hard to make the perpetual success of ScoreMore a static reality.
And all that is great and wonderful and exciting, but only one thing is important right now:
"So what can I do to get this Wi-Fi?" Guttfreund asks. "There's no 'They Just Reserved 17 Rooms So Let's Give Them Some Free Wi-Fi' hookup? That's not a thing?"
"Okay. All right. Well, thank you," Guttfreund ends.
He walks back to the bed and sits. On it is an open laptop that shows the prospective route for a tour ScoreMore's been asked to facilitate for the Grammy-nominated rapper Wale. A few miles away, Bogle is completing the sound check at Warehouse Live for Kendrick's first show. A tiny slice of the ScoreMore army shuffles about, in and out of doors down the hallway and through the lobby. And, despite not starting for two and four hours, the shows at both venues already have kids lining up, with the Warehouse Live line already unfurling itself all the way down the block past and around the rear parking lot.
It's definitely going to be a special night for ScoreMore.
"Yeah," Guttfreund confirms. "A waiter."
In 2009, after saving up $1,500 waiting tables as seed money, Guttfreund and Bogle started ScoreMore. Guttfreund was a student at the University of Texas. Bogle, an acquaintance he'd met through a mutual friend, was a student at Austin Community College. The two clicked instantly. ScoreMore made sense to both without trying really all that hard. It didn't matter that neither of the two had a tremendous amount of experience in the field, because the success of the company was secondary. Their ambition was simply a byproduct of their own interests.
"In the beginning, it was just who we wanted to hear," Bogle says via phone a handful of days after returning from Los Angeles, where the two met with Red Bull. "There were a lot of acts out there that we wanted to see that nobody was bringing here. We wanted to bring them so we could see them."
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