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How do you take your passion and turn it into a paycheck?
Don’t get me wrong, we don’t need to monetize every passion in our life –– but getting to do something you love that brings you purpose and also pays the bills? Yeah, let’s talk about it.
Tori is joined by Grammy-Award Winning artist Scott Hoying (Pentatonix, Superfruit). If you can’t tell by the first five minutes, this is kinda a *big deal* for Tori.
Fun fact: Tori was the owner of not one, not two, but THREE Pentatonix Tumblr fan blogs and was once an infamous “chair girl” at a Pentatonix concert. The fact she did not simply pass away while recording this episode is a feat in and of itself.
What you’ll learn:
How being told “no” (a lot) is just a part of the journey for creative entreprenuers
What it’s like to go into business with friends
Building multiple streams of income and taking on creative projects outside of your day to day work
The nitty gritty of what life on the road is like
Meet Scott Hoying:
Scott Hoying is a three-time Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter from multi-platinum selling group, Pentatonix. He is a member of Forbes 30 Under 30 list, is Emmy-nominated, and has headlined arenas around the world. He currently hosts the podcast “Ugh, You’re So Good!” with friend and fellow singer/songwriter, Rozzi Crane.
Hello. Oh my gosh. I’m so excited guys. I’m Financial Feminist. Okay. I don’t like to play favorites here on the show, but today’s guest is extra. Oh, guys strap it. You’re not even ready for this episode. Okay. Some housekeeping before we get into it. Are you subscribed? Have you left us a review? Have you shared the show on socials and tagged us. If you’re loving the show, please share it with your friends. Please leave a review. If you’re not loving the show, tell everybody that it’s Dave Ramsey’s show. That’s the easiest way to support us, right? Is if you love the show, if you engage with it, please support us. Follow us on Instagram @financialfeministpodcast. Help the show grow so we can bring on amazing guests.
A lot of people don’t know this in the background of the podcasting world, but if you want really incredible guests on a show, the easiest way to help get those guests on the show is by listening and by sharing, because this fun thing that happens is you pitch people, you pitch big people who are very sophisticated and intelligent and amazing, and basically, you have to show that the show is worth their time. So we so appreciate your support and it helps us get amazing guests like today’s.
Speaking of today’s guest, you all probably do not know this about me. This is, I almost said a dirty little secret, but it’s not, but it’s just so embarrassing. For many, many years, starting when I was around 17 or 18, I was absolutely obsessed, and still am, with Pentatonix. If you guys are not familiar with Pentatonix, you are. I promise. If you have seen a YouTube video in the past decade, you know who Pentatonix is? They are the Grammy award-winning acapella group, so it was a very exciting day when Scott Hoying, a member of Pentatonix, one of the founding members of Pentatonix, not only agreed to be on financial feminist, but asked me to be on his podcast, and then also invited us over to his house where we got to meet his lovely now fiance. They literally got engaged two weeks after we met, and his lovely dog named Bubba. And I was so excited to be there as 27 year old Tori, but 18 year old me was shitting her goddamn pants. That was just so cool, for me, this full circle moment of literally how it started versus how it’s going.
This episode means so much to me and I’m just so excited for you all to hear it and had to give you the backstory. Kristen, our podcast producer, came with me to this one and I was having a full on crisis in the car before I walked in. I was sweating. I was like, “Okay, we got to keep it together. We got to keep it together. We got to keep it together.” And somehow I did, mostly, in this episode.
Scott Hoying is a three time Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter from the multi-platinum selling group, Pentatonix. He is a member of the Forbes 30 under 30 list, is Emmy nominated and is headlined arenas around the world. You also might know him as half of Superfruit, that song GUY.xex from TikTok. The, six feet tall and super strong, we always get along, song, that is him. It’s one of my favorites. It’s a bop.
I just need you to be really proud of me for this one y’all, I only fangirled a few times. So in this episode, we get into really interesting topics like the reality of being on competition shows like The Voice and American Idol. What it’s like to work and be contractually obligated to your friends. The finances of putting on an arena tour, and we talk about so much more so, without further ado, let’s go ahead and get into it.
As we discussed on your show, I have been a fan of yours for a while.
Oh my God, how much I love this.
By a fan, I mean completely obsessed.
Like PTX Instagram fan accounts?
Yeah. Tumblr fan accounts. Memes. Yeah, it was bad. Consumed pretty much everything you put out.
Honestly, I love that so much. It makes my heart feel warm.
Oh, fun fact. I did Respect You (All Night Long), a cover at my coffee house in college.
Okay. That is amazing, because that’s like-
Its one of my favorite-
… a really high tier-
… things you’ve ever done.
I think it’s so underrated.
Honestly, thank you.
It’s so good.
I haven’t told a lot of people this, but I guess I’ll debut it here. I’m starting to work on a solo project.
Because I’ve been learning to produce and write on my own and you just inspired me that I should bring that song back.
That’s a TikTok sound in the making, right? It’s so smart. It’s such a good song.
Oh my God. Thank you.
And for those we haven’t heard, well I’ll link it. Your old Spaulding Sessions-
Oh my, yes.
… Version of that.
Yeah. It’s so good. It’s so good.
I love your tone.
Yeah. Oh, stop it.
It sounded good on my headphones.
No, thank you. Gosh. I’m pissing my pants, it’s fine. No, I think it’s a really smart song. We’ll link it. But basically the whole thing is a sexual entendre and it’s just, leads up to all of these jokes and then it’s like, “Ah, no, just kidding.” It’s like “Ah. Nope. Nope.” So I’ve been a fan of yours for a minute, so it’s really, it’s really cool to chat with you.
It’s cool to chat with you too. I am a fan of yours.
Thank you. Thank you so much.
You’re on my TikTok For You page all the time-
Which is so embarrassing.
… and I think what you doing-
It’s so embarrassing.
Oh, it’s not embarrassing 1%. I think what you’re doing for so many people, especially women and the education you’re providing, is really changing people’s lives.
I think that’s really admirable and incredible.
Thank you. I really, really appreciate that. You had such a huge impact on me. Well four or five, well, six of you technically with Avi in, so thank you. Thanks for being such a huge-
Thank you for saying that.
… inspiration and part of my life.
So thank you. I’m already crying.
Okay. We’re not going to cry. We’re not going to cry. I want to take it all the way back to Sing-Off days, which is how I discovered you.
Oh my gosh, I love this.
Okay. And again, as transparent as you’re willing to be, you win the singing competition after you auditioned for The Voice, right?
And did not, quote unquote, make it.
And did you do American Idol too?
Yeah, I tried out for American idol three times.
I had tried out for the X-Factor, America’s Got Talent a couple times and then The Voice was actually the first show I did make and sign the contracts, moved into the hotel.
Oh, did you really? I didn’t know that.
Yeah, so 70 people make it, but I was put on the bottom of the list, so the teams had filled up with the format of the show. So they were actually deciding between me and this other piano singing guy that looked like me and they picked him, and so I had rehearsed my songs, ready to go, and then didn’t get to do it. I was so devastated and that’s when I started figuring The sing-Off thing out.
So it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
Right, so you guys won The Sing-Off and then you get this record deal and some money, but then you’re dropped by the record deal.
Or you’re dropped by the label, right?
Yeah, so the prize money was $200,000. My little pup is running around here jingling.
No, it’s so cute. Bubba.
My thinking is collar on?
Yeah, my boyfriend’s here. Yeah, so we won the show and the prize money was $200,000 and after taxes and splitting it with the band, it probably came to, I don’t know, $27,000, something that I got a year later.
But yeah, we had a record deal with Epic Records, but during the show, they were changing the CEO, the whole staff, of Epic Records.
Oh, so while you’re like trying to compete for this record deal?
Yeah. The whole record company was having a overhaul.
I know, and so L.A. Reid came in and he was like, “Okay, I’m obligated to sign this group,” and he did as any businessman would and he went through other acapella groups and how they financially do. He was like, “Oh, I don’t see it being a good business move to sign an acapella group,” which is a fair decision.
At that point, it wasn’t. It wasn’t.
And I do remember being at Epic Records, talking to someone else who worked there and being like, “I know that it’s a risk,” and it was like delusional optimism, but it ended up being right, but I was like, “I know it’s a risk, but I think what we have is really special. It seems to really move people and I’m feeling very confident in it and I think you just need to take a risk on us.” And she was like, “We don’t have the time or money to be taking a risk on something that’s, ultimately, going to be a failure.” But we ended up being a driving force of-
Yeah, yeah. The understatement of the year. But what was that feeling of, “Oh, maybe I’ve made it. We’ve got this opportunity after so many tries, starts and stops,” and then the feeling of, I don’t know, invalidation of like, “Cool, well we earned it, but just kidding, not really.”
Yeah. It was interesting because I was at this naive place in my life where I didn’t think about it too much when we got dropped. I was just like, “Well, we have YouTube we can post stuff on.”
I think if it happened to me now, knowing what I know about the industry, I would’ve been more devastated. But back then I was really feeling like, “Everything is great. Let’s go on tour. Oh, they don’t want us? Another record label will want us.”
I was fortunate enough to be young enough to have that naivety.
That much optimism, yeah.
Yeah, which I have lost over the years. No, just kidding.
Got jaded. Would you do anything differently?
Honestly, I mean, I don’t think so. I do wish that I almost went to therapy earlier in my life, because it was so stigmatized that I avoided it, but I think that talking things out with a professional, I would’ve learned how to navigate this crazy life that was thrown in my lap. And there was a lot of things that were really heavy for me, during the Pentatonix years that wouldn’t have been as heavy if I had talked about them and acknowledged them and sat with them. So I guess maybe that, but at the same time, I think every single thing that happened, good and bad, led me to who I am and where I am, so I wouldn’t really change anything.
I appreciate that answer. So you won three Grammy’s, nominated for Emmy’s, have all the success, selling out Madison Square Gardens. Crazy. But I feel like still, the industry shots on acapella, right?
It gets made fun of. It’s almost like a joke.
Yeah,, and it’s honestly, a cheap joke because it’s like, “Oh the theater, the choir kid, the theater kid, the nerd.” It’s so archaic.
It’s just an easy target, and sometimes I think the impressiveness and talent it takes to do good acapella is just shunned aside because it sounds cheesy to someone, which is such a cheap take to me.
Do you feel like it’s changed at all since you started, what, 10 years ago? Do you feel like the narrative has changed at all?
I think it has. I think between the Glees, Pitch Perfect, all of it, and in Pentatonix, I think that there’s a lot more appreciation for it.
For singing and harmony in general, and I think a lot of people have been-
And the skill. The skill it takes to it.
Yeah, the skill. And it makes you feel incredible. I mean, I can go on and on about choir and how amazing and music programs are.
I did that too.
Yeah. It gives you a place to be safe, especially for queer people and people that are different and it’s also a sense of identity. It’s creating with others that gives you self-esteem. It provides all of it, so I think a lot of people love… It’s more loved in mainstream now because people are starting to understand that more.
Right. Well, I feel like… Because I was in the YouTube comments and sometimes would go to bat, because I was like, “No, that’s- [inaudible 00:12:13].”
I love that. I’m obsessed with people like you. p>
No, but I would see all these comments, would’ve just been well intentioned of like, “Oh, I didn’t realize this was this cool.” Almost feels weirdly insulting.
Like a backhanded type of compliment.
Yeah. Yeah. People will comment on my Instagram being like, “Oh my God, how are you so confident?” And I’m like, “Hmm.” Let’s try that one again.
How you be a woman talking about money?
It still feels like even when you surprise people, or potentially win people over, it’s almost begrudgingly. They’re like, “Oh wow. I guess this is a realistic or serious thing.”
Yeah, and I mean, honestly, that gave us a motivation. I’ve never minded being the underdog because-
You got a little chip on your shoulder?
Yeah, because I always root for the underdog, and also, it feels good to prove something. When we won our first Grammy, I was so excited to tell the story that we spent $400 on the music video and we recorded and filmed it. We filmed in a kitchen, recorded in a closet.
It was of Daft Punk.
It was a DIY situation.
The band didn’t even know I was bringing blue contacts. I stopped by a costume store on the way, because I had a random idea to do it. It’s just all these tiny little decisions, it was just our determination and just our energy that we created by wanting to be creative. It led us to amazing things. I like having those underdog type stories because it’s really fulfilling.
Yeah. I think one of the amazing things that you all have been able to do is, I think you’ve said it too, is, regardless of whether you’re 6 or 66, you’re going to have fun at a Pentatonix show.
But one of the things I think that almost felt, especially as a fan, really interesting was you had a certain demographic that was, probably Christian, family friendly, and we’re putting Christian, I’m saying Christian in a way that would maybe not be as accepting of you coming out as queer.
Or coming out as gay, right. So I remember even, I think, there was an episode of The Sing-Off, where you guys got to work with an organization, and they wouldn’t publicly
say it was The Trevor Project.
So what was that like, trying to figure out, personally, your identity, but also publicly? Are you thinking to yourself, “Will this affect album sales, if I am true to myself and come out publicly?” What was that process like?
Oh man, it was a really complicated journey because, one, I was struggling with self-loathing. I grew up in Texas and being really masculine and not being gay is a big priority for guys, and so that was ingrained in me. So having to unlearn that and then relearn who I am as a queer person. Then also, you hear your whole life, “If you’re going to be a guy in the music industry or in the entertainment industry in general, you do not want to be gay because part of your appeal is being lusted after,” or something-
… which is crazy.
Which is crazy.
I’m a public sorry, and that’s my public apology.
It’s just wild to me that a thing like that would stop me from being authentically who I am.
Right. Right, right.
It’s so silly looking back on it, but you know what-
But you can’t just be talented, you have to be talented and hot, right?
Right, and I wanted to be a professional musician that I was willing to make any sacrifices internally, no matter how damaging they were to me to be able to pursue my dream. It’s really dark looking back, which is why I’m just so outwardly gay now, because I’m hopefully going to inspire young musicians that they can come out and still have a career. But yeah, it was complicated.
And then, when I moved to LA, and when Pentatonix was starting, I was out to my friends and family and people close, but we started to get momentum. So then I was like, “Okay, I’m going to be a little more vague about it to fans,” because I still had a little bit of that in me, that I didn’t want to ruin Pentatonix’s potential by being myself. Just really, really, really dark and sad to look back on, and I’m so glad I’ve made it past that journey.
Well, I’m glad the world’s more ready for it too.
Which sucks, because it should have been ready for it. But yeah, so I feel it was an interesting… Again, as a fan, watching, knowing the family friendly label that got put on you all was… It was family friendly in a way of like, “Oh they don’t cuss and apparently they’re all straight.”
It was like family friendly with a tinge of, we need these people to be straight laced, pun intended.
And it was more the, we didn’t want to cuss and because, it started out with Kevin not wanting to cuss and we all felt that, and then we saw that a lot of families and kids liked our music, and so we were like, “Oh, we’ll keep it rated PG,” and that helped us get into the Christmas world, and that just became our brand. I never really associated hiding our queerness because of the family friendly thing.
At least from a personal place.
Was it more your privacy?
Oh, well, I guess it was. I didn’t want to hurt the potential of Pentatonix, which would be connected too.
But I never thought that deeply about it. It was also, I didn’t want to come out personally as well.
Sure, which is in your right.
Yeah, and I know that, but I wish I would’ve come out earlier, just because I feel like I could’ve inspired more people that way, but everyone’s journey is different and I don’t want to say I want to change anything.
Yeah. Well, also, no one’s asking you to be the sacrificial lamb.
Or no one’s asking you to sacrifice your own privacy or your own journey in order to help somebody else, right?
Yeah. And I don’t know if I was ready too.
If I would’ve forced myself to, before I was ready, I might not have been-
Well, it felt like a soft launch. I don’t know if you ever said-
It was like a soft launch.
“Hello, I’m gay.” again, as a fan, I don’t know if I ever saw that.
Yeah, it was a soft launch. I think I’ve always wanted coming out to not always have to be-
A big deal?
… a big deal. I think it’s cool when it’s a big deal, because it inspires a lot of people, but I do think if someone wants to just casually start being open about it, it doesn’t need to be like, “Here is my essay on-“
Right. It’s not a press release.
Yeah, a press release.
And there is value in a press release too. But I was like, “I’m just going to start getting riskier in Superfruit videos and start via… Then people just caught on.
Yeah, and referring to loves with he and pronouns.
Yes. I was like, “Oh my God, I’m singing a he in Havana.”
Yeah. We talked before we started recording. You guys have been touring pretty much nonstop pre pandemic for what, eight years?
Eight years. Nonstop.
The grind, the pace aside, I wanted to talk to you about like the financial, if you’re somebody listening who is going as a fan to a concert, what are the financial implications of tour that somebody would never consider? What are you having to think about? Because you’re hiring, of course, not just the five of you on stage, but you’ve got a videographer and you’ve got sound engineers, and you’ve got photographers, and you’ve got lighting designers. What financial costs go into producing a tour?
Oh man. It depends on the size of the tour. Some of our early tours barely cost anything, but we were barely making anything. But I think on a big arena tour, something we do for Christmas, there’s eight trucks, you have to rent the trucks and pay the bus drivers and pay their hotels. Then you have your whole crew. We had a crew of 30, which is a skeleton crew for an arena thing. If it’s a Beyonce tour and she’s dancing with the water on the ground, you have three people that are assigned to the water. There is a lot of people to pay.
And she’s also got 25 dancers on stage and-
And you have to rent the venue. It’s an arena downtown Los… You know what I mean? It’s very expensive to rent the arena, and Pentatonix, we try to keep our tickets affordable, becaus
e families want to come. So it is a really expensive thing to do, but at the same time, touring is the most lucrative part of the business for everyone.
I was going to ask, touring or album sales, it’s got to be probably touring.
It’s touring for everyone pretty much. That’s why they say never do like a 360 deal with a record label where you give up touring and merch because touring is going to make the money.
We’re talking about that with Amy. Yeah.
Yeah. For you, you don’t have to tell me the amount, if you’re not comfortable, what percentage do you actually see as artists?
Well, since we’re five people and we split it evenly, we have the gross number of money we made from ticket sales, and then you subtract certain percentages for lawyers, business management, agency.
Speaker 3 (20:47):
Then you have this much of the pie left. It is a very small piece of the pie overall when you think about what we made, but it’s still the most lucrative thing. Yeah.
Yeah. Well, and I had a question about this and I’m just going to do it now. So you mentioned, of course, you’re not a solo act. You’re with five people, four plus you, what are the sorts of processes or how do you think about collaborating with five other people? What are the benefits of knowing that any decision you make, you’re going to need to all relatively agree, or at least compromise, and then what are the downsides on that?
That’s a good question.
Because I’m sure there have been many a time that you had something, even Kevin, just being like, “Hey, I don’t feel like cursing,” and you all being like, “Okay. I’m willing to compromise on that.” What are the benefits of having four other collaborators? What are the downsides of that?
Oh man, that is a really, really good question. I think the benefits are it’s five brains, five creative minds, and fortunately, Pentatonix were really respectful and we do compromise and we listen and we have this whole system where we try every single idea that’s suggested. And then if three people are loving it, you can feel the momentum go towards the decision. I always think that we get the best possible thing for our brand because of that, so I do like the collaborative nature of that. I mean the downsides are going to be, obviously, I’ll be really passionate about something and the group won’t feel it’s right, and so I’ll have an idea that I feel really good about die because of that. That’s always a bummer, but at the same time, part of being in a group is trusting the conscious of the band and not… And yeah, there is more energy it takes having everything you do in a business have to be agreed on by five people. That just is going to add a layer of exhaustion.
Right, because it’s not just creative agreement, it is financial, business, how you take-
Touring and schedule.
Right. And to your point again, seeing a lump sum of money and having it split five ways, right? Everybody hopefully did their job, and that’s great, but it’s also like, “Oh, man.”
Yeah, there’s moments where you’re like, “Whoa, I would’ve made five t
imes this much.”
But I don’t ever dwell on that because I think that the five of us as a unit is what is so incredibly special, and so I’m just grateful to be a part of it. But I think a lot of people in groups, other groups, not our group, can get obsessed with the whole solo thing.
So for, what was it? 2018, 2019, your base Avi, your original base decides to leave the group. Again, I have an interesting perspective on this, I think, as someone who has watched your career. For me, as a fan, what had happened six months prior, is all of you had started doing solo projects.
So you and Mitch had Superfruit, right? Kevin was doing some of the more classical stuff. Kirsty was doing stuff under her own name, and then Avi was doing his solo stuff as well. When the announcement happened, I wasn’t that shocked because I felt like I saw it almost coming.
Was that intentional? Were you guys creating safety net for yourself, thinking, “What if this doesn’t work?”
I think it’s all of it. I think it was a safety net thing, and also, we were in the group for four years and if you look at past groups, always around the four year mark, second album-
… a lot of people start to… Because it’s a harder thing to do to be a group. I think that four years in, none of us wanted the group to be done, but I think that we all… You’re in your mid twenties and you’re like, “I’ve dedicated my whole adult life to Pentatonix. What would I have done if it was just me?” It’s hard not to wonder that, and so I think that all of us just dabbled in creative things and Superfruit was my way to be more liberated, more queer, and less having to adapt to five people, and so, I think it was just a way to express ourselves, experiment, but we did have open discussions about it all the time, and we had a rule, Pentatonix always comes first. So everyone got to do their thing, which I think was really healthy in the long run, because none of us felt restricted, which is when people-
Right. You feel trapped in a corner, then you start getting antsy.
Yeah, and Avi leaving, I think was also just because of the four year mark, and it was a really exhausting tour schedule, and there’s just… It was hard to be in a group and he wanted to do a solo thing, and we totally understood. I think it was just a coincidental timing that the solo things happened.
But it did cross my mind a couple times like, “Oh my gosh. All my eggs are in the Pentatonix basket, and if the whole band breaks up one day randomly…” Which I don’t think… Well, it’s proven isn’t going to happen after 10 years. But it’s a fear that I think everyone has that’s in a group and you want to create some type of path because I’m like, I have no skills. I’m just kidding. I have skills.
Yeah. Being a Grammy award-winning musician. No, but yeah, I think, I always wondered like, was there a moment where he was like, “Hey, I think I’m done,” and you guys are like, “Fuck. Does that mean we’re all done?”
Yeah. I did. I did. He had mulled it
over for a bit and I did think that there was no way Pentatonix could exist without him because he was such a one of a kind base.
Yeah. He’s incredible, so I was really scared. And then the touring schedule was something he really didn’t like, a lot of people don’t like it. Brian Wilson from Beach boys did NOT want a tour.
Right. Well, when we saw that again, as a… I keep going, “As a fan,” but I saw in the documentary where he was just, you could see that every time, all of you, whenever you saw your family for the first time after months, it was a very emotional experience, but I think uniquely for him. You could tell, it was hard. It was hard.
He’s a very introverted person who likes to make art and be rooted and be with his family and tour is the opposite of that. You’re sleeping somewhere different every single day. You’re sharing a room with 12 people on a bus.
It’s a really intense experience and it wasn’t for him. But it was something the band really wanted to do. There was other little things that weren’t lining up and it just felt like the right timing. He sat us down and was he was like, “I’m going to do my own thing. I need a break. I don’t want to tour this much, and I want to make solo music,” and we were like, “Good for you.”
Yeah. When you think about bringing somebody new in, again, I’ve heard you talk about this, but it’s really interesting where you five have your processes and you’ve got it figured out mostly, right?
And then one’s leaving and you had that period of time where you didn’t have a base, so you’re trying to figure out, “Okay, what does this look like with four people?” And then bringing in somebody new. What is that process?
From a collaborative perspective.
I mean, it was terrifying. We all had solo projects going on. So I’m like, “Oh my gosh, do we dive into this?” But I am so unbelievably passionate about Pentatonix and I just think about it all the time, so I knew that I was going to do whatever it took, we all did, to make sure we didn’t end. We went through so many iterations of what we could be. I went through a whole moment where I was like, “We should tour with an orchestra and do elevated stuff that’s respected, but do it with the four of us.” But there’s just something about five people of the rhythm section that was just working, and so we realized quickly, “We’re going to need a base.”
You might say it’s meat and potatoes.
The meat and potato. Oh my gosh. A true Stanny. No, but it was a process finding another base.
Yeah. Well Matt’s incredible.
Matt is incredible.
I feel like he… Because it wasn’t just about finding somebody, of course, that was really talented and could keep up, it was tryi
ng to find somebody who fit the vibe.
100%. Yeah, it was so important to us to find someone who was… Because we had learned so much about the dynamic of the band and how important it is, every single person’s personality and how they fit, and we wanted someone who was incredibly talented and it’s hard to find bases in general.
It’s so hard.
No acapella, because bass singing is even different with acapella.
Yes. Well, I feel like so much of it wasn’t just, again, getting a base who fits the vibe, but also, the Kevin, whoever base you go with, relationship, so much of that is a give and take with a beat boxer and base.
Exactly. Yeah. They had to be able to collaborate. We wanted someone with this really bright energy and it was just, there was a lot of factors and there wasn’t that many submissions. We probably watched 40 people total, and there was a lot of really good people and we narrowed it down to 8 to 10, flew them to LA and met with them, hung out with them, sang with them, and there was a lot of people qualified, but Matt, just his energy when he performed-
Oh, on stage.
… just lit me up. I just couldn’t take my eyes off of him, and he was so kind and so amazing. He learned our whole catalog, just in case. We tuned really well with him and then we did a Christmas tour with him, and he-
Soft launch Matt.
The soft launch Matt.
Soft launch everything.
And we really got along with him and he’s incredible and he’s one of my best friends now.
He’s so charismatic on stage. He’s so fun to watch.
He is, and he is like that offstage too. He’s a really good guy and I think that, in a time where we were all getting pretty fatigued in Pentatonix, just because of all the stuff we were going through, he just came in and breathed this whole new life into the band and we’re all very grateful for him.
We were talking on your show. You asked a great question about should you lend money to friends?
We were talking about contracts and all of those things. You grew up with Mitch and Kirsty, and now you’re signing contracts together.
Yeah. Oh my gosh.
How are you blending friendships with also being these people who I dated, and also I knew in high school, and now I’m making business deals with them.
That is really wild. I think it’s never been an issue because, from the very beginning, we’ve just split everything equally, everyone. And so Kristie, Mitch and I have always been in the same financial place, because we’ve split everything right from the beginning, and so there hasn’t been any resentment.
And it’s because someone had told me… Well, we had planned to do that anyways, but someone told me the cast of Friends, they split everything equally.
And they negotiate for each other too, I think. They would like go to bat for each other, be like, “Oh, okay. Well, we’re getting paid this and if you want all of us, then you have to pay all of us this.”
Yeah. After we worked out our deal with Pentatonix, splitting it equally, we go as a unified unit-
… when we’re negotiating things.
Yeah. No, that’s really smart. I feel like, especially for you three, you were all, I’m assuming, in very similar financial and career places because you’re all roughly the same age and it was like, “Cool, graduate high school, now we’re going to do this.”
I know. Yeah, I went to USC and it was-
Still the best acapella group in the country.
They’re so good.
It’s so funny
because I feel like I only went for a year and was in debt for four years because of it.
I know it’s a very expensive school, but I’m so glad I went because I like… Not even just particularly for the education, but for the acapella community and meeting Ben Bram who I started with-
You met a bunch of-
Right. Right, right.
I forgot she was USC too.
Yeah. The people I met there changed my whole life.
Who was your roommate? Remind me.
So underrated. That man’s vocal.
Oh my God.
He can sing anything.
His range. Yeah.
What was it, was it a Dynamite cover?
No Titanium. Titanium.
Titanium. We did that at Rozzi’s house.
He’s in the original key. In the original key belting.
I could not believe it.
I know. He’s incredible.
Oh man. That’s so cool.
Yeah, we were two competitive queens because we were roommates, but we were the two riffing singers and we were frenemies. No, I literally love him so much, but it was funny how that dynamic can be competitive.
That’s so funny. Okay, something I’ve always, always, always wondered. When you cover a song, are you paying royalties to the original artist on that song?
Oh my God.
And if not, how are you getting out of it?
You’re going to be so disappointed in me because I don’t actually know a ton about this.
I’m just curious because you’ve been doing… Obviously, you have original music as well that’s phenomenal. But Pentatonix started with covers, and I always wondered, I’m like, “Are they paying Daft Punk a royalty for every… What does that look like?
Yeah. Man, I am not qualified to be talking about this.
As much as you know.
But there’s the publishing share, the songwriter share and then the mechanical share or something like that. We pay the artist a mechanical license to be able to release it, and then the writers of the song, or the people that own publishing, will get a piece of that.
But we don’t make much money at all on covers. Covers are more an investment of gaining followers and traction than-
Wait. Hold on, so until you release the self-titled album full of originals, you made no money?
No. We made money.
You made money touring, but did you make any money off-
Yeah, we made money off sales of the album.
Okay. Oh I was like, “What?”
Oh no, we made-
So for four, three years you made no money off of the music you created?
Oh no. You make money off of the covers, but just not as much as you would with an original.
Sure. Okay. I got it. Like your YouTube ad revenue, right?
Yes, is a lot less for covers. The way it works.
Hmm. Interesting. Because of licensing, right?
Yeah. Exactly. So we did make money because we sold a lot of those covers, but I was seeing it more as getting eyeballs on what we did so we could sell tour ticket.
Nope. It’s smart. So when you think about Evolution of Music was the, I think, first big viral video, but you had, oh my God, what? 40, 50 songs in that?
It was like 30.
37 or something.
It was crazy.
Are you paying royalties to, I don’t know?
Well that one we don’t sell, so whenever it’s like-
Oh right, because it’s just, you’re doing a cover on YouTube.
Because anytime there’s a lot of songs in a medley it’s so impossible to get everyone to approve and you don’t make any money on it, and so a lot of our Evolutions aren’t on DSPs, but a Daft Punk will be, because it’s six songs and one artist.
Was there ever a moment where you’re like, “I want to put this on the EP. I want to put this on PTX Volume X,” and you couldn’t get the rights to it?
Yeah. Oh man. That’s happened multiple times. We’ve had songs that we’ve recorded covers for and couldn’t put out.
We’ve had to change Evolutions before. Take songs out, put songs in and then we went and performed Evolution of Beyonce on The Ellen Show, and it was in two days, but they were like, “We couldn’t clear this one, this one, this one.” And you can’t just easily take songs out of an arrangement.
It’s a whole new thing you have to learn, and that was back when we did a lot of stuff by ear on the road, so we were, by ear, changing and rearranging all of Evolution of Beyonce at hyper speed to be able to perform it.
Which, pause, if you’re not a musician is incredibly difficult. If you’re not a musician listening, that is incredibly difficult.
It was insanely hard. And also on The Sing-Off, we did a lot of our arrangements by ear.
But I’m so glad that we were thrown into that because it just trained us as a group, the work ethic and by ear thing you have to do, and how most creativity comes from improvisation. So we’d strengthened that muscle in the formative years of Pentatonix and so I’m very grateful for it.
I just remembered a question that I’ve wanted to ask you for a decade-
Oh my God. I’m so excited.
…and I didn’t think of it until now. Who came up with the Dog Days Are Over, Mitch solo moment?
Oh my God. I did.
Yes. I thought it was you. I’ve had an inkling. It’s still one of my favorite arrangements. It was the most smart fucking choice, especially on the fucking finale, and I know that arrangement didn’t come through until, what, the night before? At least that’s the lore. Such a smart fucking choice.
Oh my gosh. Thank you. We knew Mitch was going to sing the bridge, and I knew I wanted him to do it in a really soft, gorgeous way, and then we used to have it where the chorus would end and there was a dramatic space and then he would start. Then I remember, it was the day before, where I was like, “Just hold the note, so right when we all cut out, it’s just you instantly.”
I literally am getting chills just thinking about it.
Oh my God.
I know it was so long ago, but it’s still one of my favorite moments that you guys have ever done.
It was just such a thoughtful, thoughtful choice.
I really do feel like that was the beginning of my creative journey and really building self-esteem in creative choices.
You three were what, 19?
Yeah. We were babies.
Babies. Little babies. No, I’ve always-
That’s so funny.
I literally remembered. I was like, “Oh my God. I’m so glad I remembered to ask this.”
Yeah, we added that last second. Oh man. That week was so stressful. I remember I had no voice. I had to get a steroid shot 10 minutes before the performance.
Oh my God.
Yeah. I couldn’t even make a sound. If you watch it, I am screaming.
You are belting for your life.
Well, it was literally me just physically trying to make it work.
I was also feeling, it was a lot of pressure that week, so there was a lot of emotion.
Well, they chose your song for you too, I think.
Yeah, they did. We were given that song.
But I was excited because I love the drama.
And that was a dramatic song.
It’s still, even obviously with Avi having left, he gives that interview at the end, which I still think is so beautiful.
Where he’s like, “I want to do it for the rest of my life.” And it’s still one of my favorite moments.
I know. Me too.
It’s so cool.
That was such an emotional day.
I’m sure. I mean, I don’t mean to go back to The Sing-Off, but it’s such an interesting concept where it’s just like, “Hi. New arrangement, sometimes two, every week. Also you have a group number that you have to learn and it’s super campy and we’re going to perform it at the beginning,” and then, “Oh, also, you’re going to compete on a singing show where it’s not just you singing with musicians, you’re also arranging the actual things you’re singing.”
And also there was groups with the 19 people who needed arrangers and there was three or-
Right, because all the collegiate groups.
No, exactly, and there was three arrangers available, so we didn’t get arrangers a lot, so that’s why we started learning to do it just by ear because we-
Oh, so it was like, “We have to do this if we’re going to succeed.”
Yeah. I mean, Ben Bram was-
… working on the show, and so he was down to help us and he did a lot. He helped us a lot, but he also was busy, really busy, with all these other groups, and so to make something we were proud of, efficiently, we had to learn how to do it ourselves. As well as work with Ben. So yeah, it was stressful. Then also the rehearsals for these opening numbers were at absolutely crazy times because-
Like the middle of the night?
I don’t know how this was legal. I’m not trying to expose it, but we would have midnight rehearsals.
Shows not a thing anymore.
Nick Lachey’s got his whole new show now. He’s doing fine.
Those reality shows back then, I mean, it is wild what
they do. The contestants are, I mean, not as much on The Sing-Off, but I’ve heard these horror stories about American Idol, where it’s like cattle, people peeing their pants because they will not let them leave rooms and stuff.
Yeah. But it was a high stress situation, but I was just pumped to be there having auditioned for 12 different shows.
Yeah. A bunch of other things. Yeah. Jesus.
I was like, “I’ll do anything. I just am happy to be here.”
This actually segues into, so you guys blow up, right? You’re in your early twenties. How are you navigating fame, lack of privacy? And again, a weird vulnerability moment, but I was probably part of the problem. I was trying to figure out where you were up to and figure out what was going on in your life. And I definitely had a parasocial relationship with all five of you. What is that process like, of being very unknown and then being famous and what is that?
I think that it can be a really scary process for some, and I guess it was scary at times for me, but overall, I was really, really excited, because I wanted to just sing professionally my whole life and I knew how hard it was to get any type of notoriety or momentum in the music industry. Once it happens, I was very precious about it. I was like, “I have to use this moment.” I was so pumped that it didn’t really bother me, the other aspects of it. I guess it was just more learning how to balance staying connected to my friends, working, but not working too much, what to do financially, working as a group, making huge life changing decisions quickly. All that stuff is really wild. But I also will say that Pentatonix, I feel like we grew gradually.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And never became truly tabloid famous. So I think it was a different experience for us than it would be for Olivia Rodrigo who’s the number one celebrity overnight, and then having to-
In a pandemic.
In a pandemic.
Yeah, and make all these huge decisions at such a high level with all eyes on her.
And at 19.
I do think we just went viral and grew and grew, and so that was nice.
Can you still go places without getting recognized?
I feel like I can go anywhere without feeling like, “Oh, I can’t go there. I’ll get mobbed.” I’ll even go to Disneyland and I’ll just get recognized a couple times, but I feel like Pentatonix fans have always been so respectful. I’ve never felt like, “Oh man, I wish these people would leave me alone.” I’ve never felt that. But I feel like it’s different for like a Taylor swift, or an Aria Grande.
Totally. Where people are breaking in their houses to sleep in their beds.
Real thing that happened to Taylor Swift.
Whoa. Oh my God. That’s so scary.
She talked about it on her documentary. She was like, “Literally, somebody broke into my house and slept in my bed.”
Also, I feel like that’s happened her a couple times, or at least stalkers.
I would not be shocked.
Yeah. I’ve had stuff sent to my house, which is a little uneasy, makes me feel uneasy.
Like fan art or like anthrax?
Oh. No anthrax yet.
Don’t get any ideas anyway.
Don’t get any ideas. No, but I’ve received fan gifts and, honestly, they’re really sweet, so it’s not like I want to say anything negative.
Right, but you’re like, “How did you get my address?”
But, also, anytime someone has your address, it’s-
That’s a little-
It’s like a little bit unnerving.
It’s a little terrifying.
One of my favorite, favorite things that I saw, was you posted a video a couple years ago. I think it was your Christmas gift to your parents where you paid off their mortgage.
It’s literally going to make me cry. It was so sweet.
Oh my God.
I’ve met your parents. They’re lovely. I’ve met them at shows.
They’re the loveliest humans.
What financial opportunities has fame, or just success, quote unquote, afforded you?
Oh man. That is definitely one of them. Being able to do that for my parents was a really emotional moment for me and something I’d always dreamed of. I think a big thing that it has provided me is just that layer of stress is not there as much. Not stressing about not living paycheck to paycheck, not stressing, can I do this? Is this smart? There’s just a freedom that comes with that, which I’ve always been very grateful for ever since Pentatonix. Those would be the main things. But yeah, I would say I’m the same level of happy that I was when I didn’t have money. There’s just a sense of freedom, so it’s a different kind of happy.
Yeah. That makes sense. Have you had a, “Holy shit. I’ve made it,” moment?
What was it? Do you remember the first one?
The very first one was probably that first tour that you went to.
Yeah. That’s the first time I’d ever been and performing a show where people were screaming and yelling and-
Singing along to-
… when I did a riff, people would freak out for it. I had never really had that in that way. And night after night. That was definitely a moment. Anytime we had our first viral videos, Radioactive, Daft Punk or Somebody That I Used to Know, just seeing the numbers rack up, it was just really, really surreal. Two more that come to mind are when Mary, Did You Know? Was going really viral, and that album was 100,000 each week, and it ended up going platinum that December and that was just a really, really big deal. And then Sesame street.
Yeah. I remember the Sesame Street days.
Oh, I loved that. It was so cool to be on there.
But lots of moments. The Grammy’s, I mean, it’s just been incredible.
Yep. Cool. Oh, and the original album went number one too.
Number one billboard, wasn’t it?
Oh my God. That was such a moment. Yes.
Yeah, because you beat, was it Demi Lovato?
It was Demi Lovato, and it was like a race.
I watched it. Yeah.
I remember doing 30 phone interviews for three days straight, just on different radio stations to sell, and we were doing meet and greets, selling albums. We were doing everything we could and then it ended up, we got the number one spot by a hundred albums or something.
Oh. Scott, really?
Yeah. We barely. Barely, barely, barely.
I know. I don’t even know if I’m allowed to say that, but leave it in.
Okay. It’s spicy.
I don’t know. It was somewhere like 100 to 400 albums. It was really, really close, but I am obsessed with Confident the album. That was a great album, but I was striving for that top spot.
Yep. Do you still feel challenged by your work?
Yes, I do. I really do. The reason I had to think about it was because I feel like, in some ways, this is so exciting to talk about because I think Pentatonix right now is making a massive breakthrough, and we are about to reach this whole new era and level for us. And I think that it was so exciting at first. There was so much to experiment with in the acapella world, and then we’ve done hundreds of arrangements. We started to fall into a little bit of a doing stuff we’ve done before that we’re really, really proud of, but I feel like, right in this moment, we are writing, creating, dreaming bigger, and we’re more unified than I think we’ve ever been.
Everyone in the band is best friends, texts going all day, and not that we haven’t been friends in the past-
No, but that makes me so happy.
… but we’re unified right now.
No, because I always thought, I was like, “God, 10 years, you got to be getting tired?”
The opposite’s happening.
That’s so cool. How does that feel?
It feels like such a relief because… A relief. I mean, one, it’s a relief because I have the same thought. I was like, “After 10 years, everyone’s going to want to-“
Like, let’s just phone in for a while. I phone in for this album, it’s fine.
Everyone has this adult energy and because we’re so unified, there’s an energy amongst us that is causing ideas to come, Liz Gilbert style, ideas to come that are just, I feel like, really leading us down a really cool path and I think some amazing stuff is coming up the next few years.
You’ve also started now founding groups.
Not just Pentatonix. Citizen Queen is amazing. Acapop! Kids. What is the difference in involvement between founding a group that you’re a member of, versus founding a group that you’re shepherding?
Ooh. The difference is with a Citizen Queen or Acapop! Kids, when you’re mentoring, you’re trying to help them find their dynamic and find their way of creating and navigating the music industry, whereas in Pentatonix, I’m in the thick of it.
Because I think it’s important that I don’t insert myself too much into Citizen Queen or anything, because I want them to be able to be self-sufficient. It’s something that Pentatonix’s learned to do by arranging on our own and all that stuff. And so I’m trying to guide them, help them, but also let them find their own legs in ways.
Yeah. Which I think you get to be involved, but you get to let them figure out what that looks like.
Yeah, I’ll brainstorm with them creatively. I’ll connect them with the label to help them get a label deal together, which I love being able to do, because you get to skip some of those hurdles and just make art, which I was so happy to do that for them and for Acapop!
Right, the opening of the doors.
And give them the Kelly Clarkson Show, where you’re, “Come on-
… I’ve toured with you. I can call you up and be like-“
But there’s also, you have to be careful that you’re not… Same thing with raising a child, I guess.
If you do everything for them, when they’re on their own as an adult, they’re not doing anything.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. No, that makes total sense.
My final question for you.
Scott, in 2011, 2012, what would you tell him?
Ooh. Oh man. I guess I would tell him, I’m thinking of Back to the Future, I wouldn’t want to mess up my future with the butterfly effect.
Right. Yeah. Yeah.
So I’m like, “Very careful what you say.” No, just kidding. I would just say, “Everything’s going to be okay.” Because I think there’s been moments over the last 10 years where I felt so in dark emotions, and some dark emotions that I’d never had before where you don’t know how to handle them, or you don’t know if they’re going to go away. And now that I’ve had 10 years of experience and knowing that these emotions do pass, especially if you sit with them, and I’ve known that things do get better, I think I wouldn’t have been so scared and terrified in that moment. So without ruining my future via the butterfly effect… Just kidding. I would just say, “Everything’s going to be okay, and all the harder times ahead you get through.”
Amazing. I might end it there. I also have one more question. I don’t know if I will include this. I’ve been wanting to ask people this.
My best friend and I have had a two hour conversation about this question. Yes, it’s this question.
Oh my God. I’m so excited.
Okay. I feel like you’re a perfect person to ask. Okay, what celebrity do you feel like you could get at your best? You are looking hot, you are charismatic.
Oh, who could I pull?
Yes. You’re at a bar.
Oh my God.
What celebrity do you feel like would fall hook, line and sinker?
If I was feeling like I was crushing an outfit and had, first of all, I think it has a lot to do with where I’m at confidence wise.
A hundred percent.
Because I feel like when I’m on, I can really exude sexy, but when I’m not, it’s the opposite.
But that’s what I’m saying is, you’re on.
Okay. I really don’t know.
It’s okay. Again, I’ve had conversations that have lasted hours with friends about this.
I don’t know. Oh my gosh, I want to have a fun answer, but I really don’t know.
The fun part that I start to think about is it’s not just… Of course, it is a hundred percent a confidence question of, who do you think you could pull? It’s also, do you think they would be into you and receptive, right? Because I’m very public on my love of Timothée Chalamet. I think I’m hot. I don’t think he would be interested. I honestly don’t think that.
I think he might.
Thank you for saying that. I paid him to say it. No, I’ll definitely leave that part. No, I don’t think he would because like body type of who he’s dated prior.
And the other thing for me is, I’m not going to be the person, and again, self-aware, this is not me be self-deprecating, I’m not the person who’s going to walk across a bar and be like, “Ayooga.” It’s going to be me sitting with you, for a half hour over a whiskey, and then I’ve got you.
Yeah, if I’m at my most confident and feeling really hot, I do think that I could charm someone, even if they were, quote unquote, out of my league physically or something.
I think that I can turn on the charm.
My answer’s James McAvoy.
Let me go ahead and Google who that is.
I know the name.
He was Mr. Tumness among other things. Last King of Scotland. Atonement.
Oh my gosh. Yeah, he was in-
Oh my God. He’s amazing.
A bunch of things. Yeah, Atonement. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. He’s been in a bunch of things.
You could definitely pull-
And he’s also very… Yeah, we would have witty banter and I’d get him that way.
I love that. Actors are so smart.
[inaudible 00:54:32]. Thank you so much in the corner.
Oh. That’s a fun question.
It’s fun. That’s a fun…
Speaker 3 (54:37):
No, I can’t.
I know, I’m sorry.
You’re the first person I’ve asked on a podcast, because I-
I know. I was trying to think of gay celebrities and I was like-
Speaker 3 (54:46):
There’s not a ton.
Well, and it’s like, would you also be into that?
Would I also be into them? I feel like dating celebrities has never been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s scary.
Yeah. I get that. Thank you.
Yeah, of course. Thank you for having me and thanks for doing my podcast too.
I know you’re a behemoth of a pod
No stop. Stop. Stop. Stop.
Our little engine that could.
No. No. It’s so fun. Thank you. Before I forget, where can people find you?
Oh yeah, so we did a podcast with Tori on ours. It’s me and Rozzi. It’s called Ugh! You’re So Good! And follow me on socials @scotthoying.
Thanks for being you.
Of course. Thanks for being you.
Like I mentioned before, since we recorded this episode, Scott has gotten engaged so congratulations to him and Mark. Mark is actually from Seattle, which we bonded over, and so I’m so excited for both of them and so excited just for everything that Scott has going on and everything that Pentatonix is up to. You can follow Scott on Instagram @scotthoying. H-O-Y-I-N-G. And listen to Pentatonix wherever you get your music, and also Superfruit, because Superfruit just so fucking pop.
Don’t forget to rate, review, subscribe. Thank you for listening. Thank you. If you are a Pentaholic out there, know that I see you. Know that I am you. Thank you for joining. Thank you for listening to this episode and, as always, have a lovely rest of your week. I’ll catch you later, Financial Feminist.
Thank you for listening to Financial Feminist, at Her First $100K Podcast. Financial Feminist is hosted by me, Tori Dunlap, produced by Kristen Fields, marketing and administration by Karina Patel, Olivia Coning, Cherise Wade, Alina Helsa. Helena Isaac, Sophia Cohen, Valerie Oresko, Jack Coning and Ana Alexandria.
Research by Ariel Johnson, audio engineering by Austin Fields, promotional graphics by Mary Stratton, photography by Sarah Wolfe and theme music by Jonah Cohen Sound. A huge thanks to the entire Her First $100K team and community for supporting the show. For more information about Financial Feminist, Her First $100K, our guests and episode show notes, visit financialfeministpodcast.com.