Sofar Sounds — which has made a name and a business for itself by staging “secret gigs and intimate concerts” featuring emerging artists for an invited, engaged audience — today unveiled a series of new programs intended to serve artists better, including a new payment model that will see artists paid more for playing bigger rooms, an Artist Dashboard, expanded ways to connect with other artists, and more.
The company puts on more than 10,000 shows, primarily in North America and Europe, each year. See more about the company and the new programs here.
The company recently reached a $460,000 settlement with the New York Department of Labor after an article revealed its extensive use of unpaid volunteer workers. The company no longer uses volunteers and the settlement money has been distributed to people who worked for free at its events in New York over the years.
The new programs include:
- A new Artist Dashboard, which makes it easier for artists to book tours in multiple cities (Sofar is in 444 cities around the world), empowering them to request shows in cities on specific dates or within a date range. Previously, artists had to email each local rep when they wanted to apply to perform in a new city
- Ways to convert more listeners into active fans via an email that goes to all guests after every show, encouraging those audiences to follow the artist on social, buy merch, or support a fan funding campaign (the company notes that its open rate on post-show emails is more than 50%)
- Ways to connect Sofar artists with each other on the website
- Adding more resources for artists new to Sofar
- Increasing artist compensation for larger rooms
Unpacking that last item, according to the announcement, “Starting February 18th in ticketed Sofar cities, we’ll begin rolling out three payment levels where artists will be paid based on ticket sales. We estimate this increase will impact around 50% of artists playing shows in those cities. We are continuing to develop other formats for shows that drive more artist revenue. We’ve worked with hundreds of artists in the past year to play premium shows with average compensation of over $1,200 and plan to expand both the number and formats of these shows.”
Speaking with Variety, Sofar CEO Jim Lucchese said, “We surveyed hundreds of artists and one of the main things they asked about with connecting with other local artists and how we can help them to find more fans. Artists hanging out together at shows is where a lot of our strength comes from, and we’re working to find ways to take what’s happening there and making it easier — it’s was very lo-fi, so we said ‘Let’s make it easier by creating a platform.”
He then spoke of how the system can work: British singer Lianne la Havas met Tokio Myers at a Sofar show and was impressed enough to take him on tour with her. He then won “Britain’s Got Talent,” and took artists he’d found through Sofar on tour with him.
“We try to look at everything through the lens of the artist as a customer,” Lucchese said, “and hopefully these new programs help to address that.”