Two females and two males sit in chairs on the Centennial Hall Teaching Theater stage, in front of a big crowd of students.

Austin Music Festival Promoters give Insight into the Music Industry during Mass Comm Week

By Tania Zapien
Music Journalist

Texas State University welcomed four executives from Score More Shows in a panel discussion on Wednesday, Oct. 16. As part of Mass Comm Week, Lexi Dolan, Gina Martinez, Edward Castillo and Kevin Hayden provided a crowd of students with insight into the planning and production of events within the music industry. 

Founded in a University of Texas dorm room in 2009 by Sascha Guttfreund and Claire Bogle, Score More Shows is the event promoter behind the success of music festivals like JMBLYA, Mala Luna, Neon Desert and Dreamville.

Score More’s Vice President of festivals and operations, Gina Martinez, who is a Texas State alumna, was inspired by her husband’s musical career and her own interest in the music industry to create a one-day music festival in her hometown of El Paso, Texas.

 “I went out one night with some friends, had a little too much tequila and was like ‘I have this great idea, we should start a music festival’, and we did,” said Martinez. 

Martinez discussed the birth of what is now the Neon Desert Music Festival and the process of putting it together for the first time.

“Those first few years of Neon, we did everything. I picked up trash, I sold tickets, I helped with artists’ dressing rooms, and really learned the industry from the bottom up,” said Martinez. 

One thing that all these successful festivals seemed to have in common and something that Score More prides itself on, is the crucial role of having a street team. 

Marketing Director, Kevin Hayden, had been working for small shows and clubs in San Antonio when he was contacted by Score More’s co-founder, Clair Bogle. His first task was to run the San Antonio street team for Score More and he proudly revealed that every single one of the executives on stage had started out as a member of the street team. 

“Street team is super key to the DNA of who we are because it’s about the community giving people ownership of the experience,” said Hayden. 

According to Hayden, it is not only beneficial to support members of festival street teams by  buying tickets from them, but it is also a great way into the music industry on an introductory level. 

“Offset’s assistant went to Texas State and they started on the street team, and at one point, Logic’s assistant was a street teamer from San Antonio,” said Hayden. 

Edward Castillo, who runs brand partnerships and sponsorships for Score More is also one of the directors behind the JMBLYA festival. Being a part of the team since the festival was only a concept and a conversation at a kitchen table, Castillo is no stranger to hard work. 

Thanks to the help of his executive team and all the street team members, JMBLYA has become one of the biggest hip-hop festivals in Texas. 

In addition, Castillo confessed that it is crucial to be a part of a street team if you want a job within the music industry because it shows employers who is willing to put in the work, something that is hard to tell from simply looking at a resume or reading a well written email. 

“I need to know the person next to me is willing to go to war with me too… I can tell that when I’m out there in the rain with you, I can tell that when I’m out there at a festival with you until three in the morning,” said Castillo.

Edward Castillo is standing in front of the stage speaking to a female student.
Edward Castillo answers questions from a student after an in-depth panel about the music and event production industry. Photo by Tania Zapien.

Martinez jumped in by pointing out that one of the things that sets Score More apart and the reason behind their success is a basic concept that Guttfreund and Bogle came up with when they started the company. 

“They have that person to person connection with the people that attend the festivals by being out there shaking hands, giving out free stuff and that really differentiates them from any other promoter,” said Martinez. 

In addition to closing the gap between promoters and festival goers, the executives emphasized on the importance of giving their customers the best experience possible. To Castillo, the customer experience includes letting the people make the festivals their own. 

“When people tweet and complain about something, we laugh about it but we also take it very seriously,” said Castillo. 

Event and decor coordinator, Lexi Dolan, describe her personal creative and design process as a walk in her audiences shoes. 

“If I am walking into this festival, and I love the artist, I love their music, what am I wanting to experience?” said Dolan.

Martinez, who works closely with Dolan and other designers for ASTROWORLD, a hip-hop festival in Houston,  mentioned that part of the experience they like to provide includes making sure that every festival is full of content and picture worthy material.

 “People are paying more attention to smaller and smaller details so we really have to make sure that they are Instagramable because that’s what people are looking for,” said Castillo. 

When asked for advice for students who are interested in working in the music industry and festival world, Hayden made it very clear that experience does matter.

He recalled his own process of applying to jobs in the industry and how he thought 5+ years of experience was ridiculous, but now, being ten years into his career, wouldn’t hire anyone for an office job until they do their time as a street team member. 

“Something to lock your mind on is that it’s going to take some time…In the first two years you’re gonna hate it, feel neglected, feel like people don’t like you or care about the work you do,” said Hayden. 

Dolan added that it’s not that people don’t care about you but that the industry is very cut-throat and that there are pools of people going after these positions, especially at the beginning. 

“It sucks to hear but you are very replaceable,” said Dolan. She then encouraged those interested in this business to stick with it and not dwell on the mistakes they make but instead learn from them and move on because they are inevitable. 

To close, Castillo said that all his hard work, sleepless nights, and days where he couldn’t even remember if he had eaten that day, pay off when he sees people having the time of their life at their events. 

“It is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had,” said Castillo.

Featured image by Tania Zapien.

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