Sofar Sounds reveal plans for $25 million funding, good news for artists

Sofar Sounds have garnered criticism before over whether they treat the artists they recruit fairly, but with new funding those concerns should be quashed.

Yesterday we reported on Sofar Sounds new $25 million in funding that they announced this week. It’s an amazing new investment in an unique live music business that has spread around the world providing a gig experience that stands on its own.

But with so much money going into the business it felt necessary to also look at how much money the artists see in Sofar Sounds gigs. The value of a musicians work often comes into question when it shouldn’t. With Sofar sometimes paying musicians nothing for their first gigs, instead paying them in “exposure”. When artists are paid it’s always $100 for the gig.

Sofar Sounds have now discussed how they plan to use the $25 million they’ve gained in funding and it’s good news for artists. Sofar’s founder and former CEO, Rafe Offer told Billboard that they plan to make sure “that as we grow, we grow with grace, and that the events as they are today feel the same as they did when we started it.”

Sofar have taken on board the criticism from artists in recent years, some arguing that they don’t pay enough considering the scope and scale of Sofar’s business now. They are looking at new ways in which they can increase what they pay artists by diverging their efforts beyond their traditional; mystery venue, surprise 3-act gigs.

Sofar Sounds’ current CEO, Jim Lucchese says: “I am absolutely not happy that it’s the only way we make artists money right now. The purpose of this financing is to build out additional services where we can make artists more money. How can we make it easier for you to convert those [attendees] to fans? How can we help you better monetize them?”

They don’t want to simply continue the same model and give more money to the artists. Looking at a recent sponsored gig in collaboration with 21st Century Fox to promote Bohemian Rhapsody, Lucchese suggests they’d like to do more. The payment to artists for a sponsored gig bumps up massively to $1500 on average.

They also want to build upon the value outside of money alone. At the moment the majority of artist’s compensation for doing a Sofar session is considered to be the exposure from the unique audiences and the professional videos they record to upload to their massive online following.

The issue is that with their increased popularity in recent years the exposure becomes saturated amongst the many other artists they are working with on a regular basis. They hope to enhance the platform that they are able to put artists on to prioritise building a fan-base as well as straight up payment.

Lucchese adds: “I want being a Sofar artist to unlock other services for you. We’re starting around building that digital front door for artists and making the touring side of things more efficient and easier.”

Whilst they’re definitely acknowledging artists concerns, they seem to be prioritising the value of their exposure rather than increasing monetary value for artists. Offer adds to Lucchese’s statements: “With helping more artists and helping them become sustainable, there’s a lot to still be done.”

Head of Social Media and Marketing, RouteNote

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