Meet Philip Payne, The College Football Recruit Turned Tour Manager, Songwriter & More

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Music and sports have always shared similarities. Both industries are made up of fans who idolize talents that few on earth possess. Top performers are subject to roaring praise and unjust critique. Privileges are awarded to the accomplished. 

Philip Payne understands both worlds well.

When Philip, a 6’2 wide receiver from South Garland High School, committed to play football at the University of Texas, his dreams were typical of most Division I-bound football players: develop into a highly sought-after athlete, find a home in the NFL, support his family and give back to his community.

But the realities of the game quickly caught up with him. After a string of disappointing setbacks, including redshirting his freshman year and suffering debilitating injuries, he realized that his love for the game of football wasn’t there. 

Music had always been a subconscious passion, though. Austin’s bustling music scene gave Philip the opportunity to take advantage of as many internships he could land. At the time, he had recently discovered an up-and-coming rapper named J. Cole and was infatuated with his lyrical prowess. In 2010, Cole made his way down to Austin for a show; Philip was in attendance. The next day, while walking outside of a restaurant, Philip ran into Sascha Stone Guttfreund, a young concert promoter who booked the show. The two recognized each other from the night before, and Sascha invited Philip in to have lunch with J. Cole and his crew. 

“At the end of the day, I’m a ballplayer and I think we always find similarities with rappers and entertainers because we’re also asked to sign autographs,” Philip said. “We’re also looked up to and idolized so we never try to be extra, but that s*** went out the window when I saw Cole.” 

Philip soon signed on to work alongside Sascha and his concert promotion company, ScoreMore Shows, as the street team manager. 

“I knew I needed to get to a place where they knew I was serious about this,” Philip said. “I had a part-time job at the YMCA but I was willing to do everything and anything to show them that I wanted to work in this industry.”

But Philip’s career was only beginning. Sascha started managing a then-relatively unknown Tory Lanez. When the two met in person, they clicked immediately. Philip assumed the role of Tory’s tour manager, and often moonlighted as his DJ and security. The two spent hours on the road together, bonded in studio sessions, and dreamed about the future. After Tory signed with Interscope in 2014, Philip’s responsibilities extended beyond tour management and into songwriting, talent management, and A&R. 

Philip has continued sharing in every milestone with Tory – including platinum singles, Grammy nominations, and opening slots on tours like Drake’s Assassination Vacation and Chris Brown’s Indigoat tour. With his tour management role in full-swing, Philip is now shifting his focus to developing more artists. 

“I’m making use of all of the favors that I built on the road,” he said. “I’ve built all these relationships just because I’ve taken care of so many people. I’m finally in a place where I’ve built my name up to where people know my character, and people are willing to do a lot of things just because it’s me.”

Philip has learned to play with a new kind of team. His journey has taught him invaluable lessons about humility, selflessness, and success – the latter, he admitted, was defined by material possessions. 

“Now, my definition of success is someone coming up to me and telling me, ‘What you said to me the other day made me not quit.’ There’s no feeling like that. No money, no award, no accolade that can give you that feeling when someone comes up to you and says that what you did, or what you said, inspired them. Success to me is getting as many people as possible to realize that they could do it the whole time.”