Nearly a year ago, the pandemic threw live music (and the world) into crisis. We know how many Sofar artists rely on playing shows to connect with fans and make a living, and we wanted to do whatever we could to support the artist community through this, continuing the work we’d been doing to build Sofar into an even better resource for independent artists.
As part of that effort, we’re really excited to announce that artists services company Seated is joining the Sofar team—a huge step in our journey to support this global artist community. Seated has built some amazing tools that enable musicians to promote their shows and better connect with their top fans. Together, we’re going to be able to do even more for artists both digitally and in person when live music returns.
Seated will keep operating their services independently, but will also be partnering with Sofar to offer artists more ways to connect with fans, starting with bringing some of Seated’s tools into the Sofar artist dashboard.
Beyond that, we’re building something together for artists that we’re really excited about—we’ll share more details in the next few months.
We wouldn’t have been able to get to where we are without the thoughts and feedback from so many artists in the Sofar community, so thank you to everyone who has answered a survey or hopped on the phone with us. These conversations have been instrumental in the work we’ve done to help artists through this time, including:
Advanced cancelled performance fees to over 3000 artists
We advanced full show payments to all artists who had a Sofar event canceled. When it’s safe to do so, we’ll be in touch with those artists to reschedule their shows and get them back in front of a Sofar audience.
Launched the Sofar listening room
270 artists in our global community of independent artists—across 50 cities in 6 continents—have been showcased in our online livestream platform, with 100% direct fan-to-artist payment in addition to an additional Sofar payment from Sofar going directly to the artists. On average, artists have made ~$450 per performance.
Hosted free artist webinars and created a resource directory
We started In Session, a webinar series covering topics from songwriting to self-management, with around 5,000 artists joining over the last year. Check out videos of past sessions here. We also created local COVID resources and information on everything from healthcare to relief fund applications.
Added higher artist payment tiers for bigger shows
We shared more about how money works at Sofar shows, and introduced three payment levels for artists playing in ticketed cities in the US, UK and Canada—aiming for an average net profit split of 70/30 (in favor of the artist) for our Discovery format shows.
Sofar Sounds Global Artist Fund
The majority of active Sofar artists make a living as musicians. When we surveyed artists in our community last year we heard that 71% had lost more than ½ their income due to the pandemic. Only 4% of those artists received advances for cancelled dates. The fund, in partnership with our friends at the storied music venue and artist-focused non-profit Passim, has paid out grants to hundreds of these artists that historically rely on Sofar and other local gigs to make a living.
In total, Sofar and Seated paid a combined $3M to artists globally in 2020, and we hope that we’ve been helpful in some small way. It’s been a hard year, but each artist in our community and the music they create has kept us going. As we start to see cities like Perth, Wellington and Beijing begin to hold safe concerts around the world, we can start to see a future that brings us all back together again.