Anybody done a "Sofar Sounds" gig?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Eilif, Jun 22, 2019.

  1. Eilif

    Eilif Grooving under the MDW runway.

    Oct 1, 2001
    A buddy of mine owns a business that is hosting a "Sofar Sounds" gig. Anybody done this as host or musician?

    The gist seems to be that:
    -Unconventional spaces are used and folks tend to sit on the floor. BYOB,etc.
    -Acoustic, mostly unplugged.
    -People buy tickets without knowing the 3 musicians or location of the gig.
    -Host get's no compensation.
    -Musicians get a maximum of $100 per group, or less (sometimes nothing except a video) though they are allowed to sell merchandise and they might get a video of one of their songs.

    At first look, I really hate this idea, and it seems like a bad deal for everyone involved and a local music scene. I don't level that at my buddy however as he's not a musician, Sofar isn't known for explaining their business practices to anyone involved and he's just trying to get more people into his shop. Luckily I have a gig and can't attend anyway, but I probably wouldn't go on principle alone. I'm going to ask him about his experience afterwards.

    At $100 per show, per group I doubt that allot of bassists do these gigs, but I'm really curious to hear from folks who have hosted, played or even attended such a gig.

    For those interested, here's the most recent article I could find on Sofar and their practices.
    Sofar Sounds house concerts raises $25M, but bands get just $100 – TechCrunch
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2019
  2. ArtechnikA

    ArtechnikA I endorsed a check once...

    Feb 24, 2013
    From the linked article:
    I can't make that math work... If I'm getting $100 for a half-hour set, that's $200 an hour. Maybe if I'm the Boston Pops Orchestra it's $8/hr/musician... A $100 house concert gig for a singer-songwriter or acoustic duo sounds pretty attractive, frankly. The article doesn't mention how many tickets you have to sell at what price to net that $100, although they like to create the impression it's impractically large.
  3. Isn't it hard enough to sell tickets even when you tell people who and where?
  4. Eilif

    Eilif Grooving under the MDW runway.

    Oct 1, 2001
    In answer to the questions above. AFAIK, the artist doesn't have to sell any tickets. Most of these shows seem to sell out.

    The mystery aspect seems to be part of the show. In fact folks who want tickets "apply" and if approved they can buy them. Apparently Sofar Sounds will curate the audience if they get more requests than availabilities for a preferred balance of new to existing companies.

    As for the compensation, I guess it's what you make it. It's not very clear, but it looks like some artists don't get anything but a video, some get up to $100. They aren't very clear about it. I think for a solo artist, maybe a duo, it might be worthwhile to do a half an hour or so for $100. IMHO, a 4 piece band, not so much. $25 isn't great, even if you're only playing a short set. I've played for $25 before, but I've no desire to do that anymore.

    I actually mentioned it to my bandleader tonight. I don't think it's a good deal for the whole band, but maybe he and I or he and the steel player might want to give it a try. I think for him it would be whether they have shows outside the city, and if not, whether he wants to drive an hour and a half to Chicago to do one. I wouldn't, but I figured he should at least have the info.
  5. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    How much are the tickets?
  6. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    For many bands it might be easier ;)
    Bass Viking likes this.
  7. I did one in October of last year with a roots reggae/Afro-jazz sextet. We played for about 20 - 25 minutes.
    The venue was the living room of a house owned by a wealthy elderly couple. The audience of about 70 people sat on the floor or on sofas.
    To the best of my knowledge entry to the show was free but audience members had to apply on the Sofar website if they wanted to attend.
    We were given the following two options:
    - $50 for the whole band
    - A professionally shot video of one of the songs we performed that evening. This is the option we chose
    The other two acts were a solo singer-songwriter (guitar/vocals) and an indie/shoegaze quartet (keys/vocals, guitar/vocals, bass, drums).
    Our lineup was a stripped down version version of our usual nonet. So two guitars (both also on vocals), trumpet, tenor sax, bass and drums. I used a tiny Laney R2 and had heaps of headroom to spare. Granted, the rest of the musicians in the band are very good at controlling their volume.
    You can find the band here: Ras Judah
    If you'd like any more details, please let me know!
  8. Eilif

    Eilif Grooving under the MDW runway.

    Oct 1, 2001
    I didn't have much time to talk with my buddy at church this morning but he said it was a good gig and 50 people showed up. I'll find out more info later.

    The numbers I've read seem to be $15-22 a ticket. $22 is an example they give on their own website.

    I like to see music in an intimate setting but I have hard time imagining paying $22 for 25 minutes each of 3 bands I've never heard before.

    On the other hand figuring in the cost of BYOB vs bar liquor maybe it's not that different a cash outlay for the evening.

    Thanks for that. Do you have a link to the Sofar video?
    I've heard that for some markets the tickets are free, but in America they paid/ticketed.
  9. turf3


    Sep 26, 2011
    Are you sure it's not "Shofar Sounds?"
  10. Not at the moment. We had to overdub one of the guitars because it didn't get recorded during the performance for some reason. All the audio and video is handled by a small company so our recording got put on the back burner while they handled other Sofar material. I think my bandleader received a copy about two weeks ago, I'll put it up when he sends it to me.
    TL,DR: No :bag: