Behind The First Year Of ScoreMore Shows' Mala Luna Music Festival

PHOTO BY AARON MICHAEL

PHOTO BY AARON MICHAEL

Originally published October 21, 2016

Tucked into a corner office building in a business center plaza in Austin, Tex., sits Texas’ boutique concert promotion company, ScoreMore Shows. It’s headed by co-founders Claire Bogle and 30 Under 30 honoree Sascha Stone. Their resumes list past praises from Rolling Stone or a feature in the New York Times, but the two consider the designated space where their 17 employees can handle the daily influx of emails, marketing meetings, and logistical planning as their greatest feat as of late.

On the walls hang posters of tours they have produced since their start in the concert promotion business seven years ago.

“Back then, Sascha and I were just some kids who were super passionate about the music,” Bogle said.

Now, ScoreMore is a sophisticated operation at the forefront of the hip-hop touring business in Texas.

With their first-annual hip-hop and EDM-oriented music festival, Mala Luna, set to take place in the relatively untapped market of San Antonio at the end of October, the company looks to incorporate the following standards to ensure the festival’s longevity.

DO IT FOR THE CULTURE

Mala Luna is far from ScoreMore’s first attempt at throwing a music festival. In addition to producing more than 150 club shows per year, the company created and oversees the traveling hip-hop music festival JMBLYA, and El Paso’s multi-genre Neon Desert Music Festival.

While Stone typically handles the talent buying for each festival, Bogle is in charge of creating an enjoyable experience for the fans and artists.

“Each festival is a human being with personality traits,” Stone said. “The festival should feel like one of its attendees.”

Mala Luna, or “Bad Moon” when translated from Spanish to English, takes place from October 29-30. It starts just days before Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday celebrated from October 31-November 2. It’s a strategic move—one that prompted Bogle and the ScoreMore staff to base the festival’s character in San Antonio’s rich Mexican heritage.

KNOW YOUR NUMBERS

Though JMBLYA brought in 6,000 attendees in three days during its inaugural year, Stone admitted in a previous interview with Forbes that the company experienced a six-figure loss. After some much-needed rebranding and strategizing in subsequent years, the traveling fest brought in 28,000 attendees over a two-day span in 2016.

For Mala, Stone said they have exceeded their expected attendance of 8,000. Although this pales in comparison to the estimated 450,000 attendees at Austin City Limits Fest— which takes place just three weeks before Mala Luna—Stone said they don’t try to compete with anybody.

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 13: Musician Steve Aoki (L) and singer-songwriter Moxie Raia perform onstage during MTV's 'Wonderland' LIVE Show on October 13, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images for MTV)

The ScoreMore team prides itself on offering its consumers a curated lineup at a discounted ticket price. Two-day passes for Mala Luna begin at $119, far below the $250-plus asking price for a three-day pass to ACL. The festival business isn’t for those looking to yield an ROI within the first year, and Bogle said breaking even during the first year would be considered a win.

“Our number one goal is to make sure the fans and the artists have an amazing experience,” she said. “If we lose a little bit of money, but the artists have an amazing experience and can’t wait to play next year or the year after, that’s what we want.”

RELATIONSHIPS ALWAYS COME FIRST

The festival boasts a lineup that enlists hip-hop and R&B upstarts such as Tory Lanez and Kehlani, to EDM megastars Steve Aoki and Kaskade. But how is a company that started with a $1,000 investment from Stone in 2009 now able to afford headliners such as Aoki and Kaskade?

“This is an industry built completely on relationships,” Bogle said. “We treat people as best as possible. That’s something we’ve been doing since the very beginning.”

Since it’s inception, ScoreMore has cultivated a company-wide ethos rooted in providing southern hospitality to the artists they book. The company has cultivated an ongoing business relationship with Aoki since booking him for their first SXSW festival in 2011.  

Additionally, on occasions that pre-date my contributions to FORBES, Stone candidly shared his experience booking J. Cole at a small venue in Austin in 2010. Cole was so blown away that his fan base extended the 1,300 miles from his hometown of North Carolina, he not only listed Stone in his debut album’s thank you credits, but also remained a loyal client until his Forest Hills Drive tour in 2015.

Despite years of experience, both Bogle and Stone said each festival they produce is a learning opportunity. It is unknown whether Mala Luna Music Festival will prove to be a lucrative investment, or even make a return next year. At any rate, in the thread of ScoreMore’s DNA is a team that lists artists’ loyalty and their customer’s experience one notch above revenue.

“We go in, do the best we possibly can to deliver a great experience to the consumer, and get out,” Stone said. “Then we do it again the next year."