Organizing an unforgettable live music event takes more than just event-planning experience; it takes a village made up of talented musicians, passionate hosts, and skilled sound techs.
We spoke with three Sofar Sounds curators around the globe to discover what it takes to host a live music event.
1. The Art of Venue Selection
From secret gardens in Barbados, to cozy living rooms in Nuremberg, and resorts in Kambala, unique venues offer a more intimate and unforgettable experience than larger, more conventional music venues.
Luciana, curator of Sofar Sounds Nuremberg, has strict venue scouting standards: she never selects venues where people expect to see live music.
“Cozy living rooms are always the best vibe, and have character and stories to tell about the decorations and the people that live there,” Luciana explains.
Barbados curator Amy knows that a great host is just as vital as the perfect venue. By teaming up with hosts, she opens the door to fresh and exciting concepts. Case in point: one of her recent hosts allowed concert-goers to view the drinks menu and order via Instagram direct message, which he hand-delivered; a personal touch that fostered a sense of connection.
2. From Rock to Reggae: Tips for Crafting a Music Lineup
Luciana’s approach is simple: no repeat acts, a mix of singer-songwriters and bands, and a line up that alternates between tempos and moods, sometimes a slower artist followed by a band that is more cheery and upbeat.
Not only does Amy seek professional, local musicians who are familiar with the Barbados music scene, but also a diverse range of acts. “Live music wise, we tend to have been a bit restricted here in Barbados in the past and Sofar has allowed artists of all genres to shine bright, in a space that allows them to really do that properly. I like to have a full balance and give all genres and styles a chance: we have had instrumentalists, R&B artists, female vocalists, reggae, hip hop and more!”
In the Ugandan capital, Kampala, Sofar curator Karen brings a creative flair to each show by selecting a unique theme that influences her choices of both venues and musicians. From an all-female lineup in March to her annual anniversary show in April and a global music celebration every August, Karen’s themes infuse each event with a distinctive vibe.
3. The Role of the MC in Sofar Sounds Music Experience
An MC is the secret sauce that elevates a Sofar Sounds experience from good to great. Luciana, who MCs events herself, has a few guiding principles. “I always try to be funny, and introduce the performers with interesting tidbits from their bios or albums, giving the audience a glimpse into their world,” she says.
Amy discovered a hidden gem in Zoe, a local from Barbados who was an early supporter of the local Sofar Sounds events. Despite no experience, Zoe’s charisma and passion for music made her the perfect fit for the MC role.
4. Behind the Scenes of Artist Discovery
Most important part of how to host a live music event? The music. Discovering talented musicians that would make a perfect match for Sofar Sounds events involves utilizing various tools.
Sofar Sounds curators go the extra mile to make sure that the artists they select have what it takes to captivate and engage their audience. They scour social media and online blogs, and frequent live music gigs to get a better sense of the artist’s stage presence, energy, and showmanship.
Karen also enlists the help of her friends to capture and share standout performances they come across while out and about, making sure no hidden gems slip through the cracks.
Ready to host a live music event? See details on how to get involved.
Looking to see a show? Discover concerts near you.
Words by Laura Woods
Photo credit: Sofar Kampala, photo by @Jamiempire_