Frequently Asked Questions
What's this all about?
What is Sofar Sounds?
Sofar Sounds is a global network of artists, hosts, and guests, all with the goal of bringing the magic back to live music.
How did Sofar start?
Sofar began in London as a platform for artists and audiences to come together in a space that is respectful to the performers. This idea was so potent that many cities started their own Sofar chapters. We are now in 340 cities worldwide, with around 500 opportunities every month for artists to play. For more info on our story, check out some of these feature articles:
What is a "Sofar"?
A Sofar is an intimate event where the best new (upcoming) artists perform in unique spaces to an audience of music lovers.
How is this different from a normal gig?
It’s simple: at Sofar Sounds, the music always comes first. People sit, listen, and never talk through the set.
What happens at a Sofar show?
A Sofar will typically feature three acts, no “opener” and no “headliner”. Every lineup is carefully curated to give the audience a diverse show, and each performer is given equal attention.
Guests arrive on time for the first act and stay for the entire show. Events are normally BYOB, so there’s no waiting at the bar. And during the music, there is full attention: no talking, texting, or filming.
Many of our cities have a video crew who records and edits the performances so you can watch them later on our YouTube channel. You can also buy our artists’ merchandise, follow them on social media, and spread the word. Join us in supporting great new music!
Where is this going on?
We’re currently active in 340 cities worldwide! If you can’t see a page for your city, you can contact us to talk about starting up a Sofar team there.
How do different Sofar cities work?
We have two types of Sofar city: full-time and volunteer. The majority of our cities are run by volunteers who put on one or two shows a month. We currently have seven full-time cities: London, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Dallas/Fort Worth, and San Francisco. These cities have a full-time, paid staff who work hard to bring more shows and more magic to their audiences!
Because these teams are structured differently, there may be differences between playing in volunteer and full-time cities. For example, email responses may be quicker in full time cities, and volunteer cities have fewer shows per month. If you need any help, please get in touch with the Sofar team.
How does Sofar make money?
In full-time cities - and our volunteer cities in the USA and UK - shows are ticketed. Because of varying capacities, revenue varies from show to show. Our goal is financial stability for our full-time cities so that we can continue to grow. We have not yet reached this goal and are working hard to meet it! In the meantime, we’ve been lucky enough to have support from incredible companies (see here, here and here) who believe in our mission to change the way live music is experienced.
How do I attend a show?
Once you’ve created a profile you’ll be able to apply to attend a show in any city you choose. Click “Apply for a Ticket” on the event you’d like to go to and your name will be put into a draw. From that list, our local teams will select their guests for the night. Our teams work hard to make sure everyone who applies has the chance to experience a Sofar, so if you’re not chosen straight away, please apply again!
Guaranteed tickets are available in some of our cities. See below for more details.
Why is the lineup and venue location kept secret?
We believe that all artists should be treated with equal respect, whether they’re well-known or not. So to make sure that people don’t apply based on who they’ve heard of, we keep our lineups secret right up to the beginning of the show. Our teams hand-pick only the best in upcoming music, so come with an open mind and get ready for a unique experience!
Many of our venues are people’s homes so, to ensure the privacy of our Hosts, we keep the locations secret to everyone but our guests.
Are there any age restrictions for Sofar events?
Since most of our events are BYOB, it’s likely that there will be alcohol present. We take underage drinking very seriously and anyone encouraging or partaking in this will be asked to leave.
For even younger kids, we can’t guarantee that the night’s content will be child-friendly. And regardless of age, children must remain silent during the performances and stay for the entire show.
Please check with your local team before finalising your spaces at the event.
Can I bring a friend?
Definitely! You can add a +1 to your application at any point up until confirming your space.
If you are in a city with Guaranteed Tickets, you can reserve up to three spaces. See below for more details.
How do I confirm my space?
Depending on the city, you may be asked to make a Pay What You Want payment to confirm your space. Capacity varies by venue so be quick, as spaces can go quickly! If you’re having difficulty confirming your space, and the show has not sold out, please contact us.
When will I find out the location of the venue?
We reveal the venue location the day before the show. Location details will also be posted on the event page.
I haven’t heard back about my application!
If it’s 24 hours before the show, or the day of, it’s likely that your application was not successful. Please apply again! Our teams work hard to make sure that everyone who applies will eventually get in.
What does "Pay What You Want" mean?
In some cities, you can choose how much you pay for your ticket prior to the show, in order to confirm your space. The minimum amount is set by the city team. Your contribution goes directly to the artists, video team, as well as keeping the Sofar Sounds concert series running.
How do I add a +1?
For Pay What You Want events, or if the city doesn’t require an upfront payment, you can add a +1 to your application at any point up until confirming your space. Even after you’ve confirmed, you can edit the details of your +1.
What are Guaranteed Tickets?
Some cities reserve a portion of the tickets for each event, giving people the option of attending automatically instead of waiting to get invited. These tickets are limited and go fast! You can purchase up to three tickets per show.
How is payment taken?
Payment is processed securely through Stripe.
Where does the ticket revenue go?
The majority of ticket sales goes to pay the A/V team who produce our video content, as well as the cost of insuring the event. (We offer a stipend to artists who choose not to take the video.)
In our full-time cities, 50 percent of shows are non-recorded which means artists will be paid a stipend in its place.
The majority of our intake goes towards paying our full time staff who produce our events. Other money goes towards our global team (tech, operations, finance, etc.) who keep things running smoothly.
What is a promo code, and how do I get one?
Promo codes are a way for our guests to get into shows more easily. They either offer a guaranteed invitation, priority access tickets, or occasionally free spaces. Promo codes are given via some of our partners, or through your Sofar city. Keep an eye out for competitions or promotions from Sofar to get yours!
Fixed Price Tickets
How do I get tickets?
You can come to a show by requesting tickets, which will put your name into a draw. If you are selected from the draw, you will then be prompted to purchase your tickets. You will then be able to purchase up to three tickets for the show.
Why can’t I pay what I want anymore?
We have got rid of our pay what you want system so that our teams can more consistently estimate how much they will make from a show. This will allow them to offer artists a more sustainable payment for their performances. Our goal is to make each show we put on break even so that we can suitably compensate the artists, pay our full time staff who makes Sofars happen every day, and also cover boring but important stuff like insurance and performers rights. We aim to make every Sofar excellent value, maintaining our BYOB policy so you don’t have to spend loads of money at a bar, while also providing the highest calibre of live music experience available.
Can I still bring a +1?
Yes! In fact, you can now bring two friends along. You will be purchasing a ticket per person. See the event page for exact prices.
I can’t afford Sofar anymore! Can I still come?
Don’t worry! We definitely still want you to come to Sofar. There are a number of ways to come to Sofar for free. You can join one of our city teams and volunteer, or take part in artist competitions to win free tickets. We also offer free spaces to people who host or perform for us. If none of these work for you, you can get in touch.
Transfers & Refunds
I can’t make the show. Can I transfer my ticket?
Yes! If you contact us 48 hours before the show, we can move your space(s) to another date. Any transfer requests made after the 48-hour cutoff cannot be guaranteed.
- Tickets can only be transferred to shows that have not already sold out.
- We can only transfer tickets within the same city.
- Tickets are only transferable once. We are unable to move them again if you can't make the second date.
I can’t make the show. Can I get a refund?
We can only offer refunds if the show has been cancelled, rescheduled, or if the venue has changed on the day. We are unable to offer refunds under any other circumstances. Please check the date, time, and location carefully before booking to make sure that you can attend the event.
Can I transfer my ticket to a friend?
Yes! Just contact us with this request and your friend’s name and email, and we’ll transfer the reservation for you. If contacted less than 48 hours prior to the show, we cannot guarantee that your friend will receive an email with the time and location details. In this case, please contact your local team directly to discuss.
I missed the show! Can I transfer my ticket to another date?
Unfortunately, no. Transfer requests must be made 48 hours before the show.
In some cases, exceptions may be made. Please contact us if you would like to discuss this further.
I’ve been invited to a show that I can’t attend anymore. Can I transfer my invitation to another show?
As our venues have limited capacities, we can only offer invitations to those who have originally applied for an event.
How can I host a Sofar?
It’s easy, you can apply here on our site! We’ll just need to know which city and neighbourhood you live in, and how many people your space can fit. If your application to host is successful, you’ll hear back from your local team within a few weeks.
Will my house be safe?
Yes. Sofar audiences are hugely respectful towards their Hosts ,and our team will be on hand to clean up after the show.
In the unlikely event of something going wrong, we will accept full responsibility for any damage incurred.
Will the neighbours complain?
We encourage our artists to play stripped-back sets at Sofars, so the noise level is kept quite low. And our shows are relatively short, normally finishing before 10:30pm. Of course, you can always invite the neighbours along!
Why should I host a Sofar?
Other than an evening of amazing music in your house, there are perks of hosting a Sofar. We will discuss this with you during your application.
Can my friends come?
Definitely! A few spots are always reserved for friends of the Host.
How do I get to perform at a Sofar?
We always recommend attending a show first to get an idea of what performing involves. Once you’ve done that, you can send us your music here. It will then go directly to the team of the city in which you want to play. They’ll listen and see if it’s right for them.
When will I hear back?
If your application is successful, you will hear from the local team in a few weeks. Due to the number of applications we receive, and depending on the city, this process may take longer. If you don’t hear from us, your application has been unsuccessful this time, but please resubmit when you have new material!
How do you select who plays?
We work hard to curate each lineup. All the music is listened to by our diverse and knowledgeable team of reviewers, ensuring that there is no bias. This helps us find the best new music possible!
Does it have to be music?
Absolutely not! We like to think outside the box, and some of the best Sofar artists have been spoken word poetry, comedy, and even dance.
What do I get for playing?
Artists tell us that they love the environment of a Sofar. We offer a promotion-free, packed room, a respectful, welcoming and encouraging space, and an audience who wants to listen! Our city teams work hard to maintain the Sofar magic at each and every gig.
In the majority of cities, Sofar offers two forms of compensation - either a video or a flat fee. The flat fee varies by city. Your local artist liaison will discuss these options with you prior to your performance. For those who choose video content, it will be hosted on our YouTube channel.
We send a post-show email to everyone who attended your performance encouraging them to follow you on social media, go to your gigs, and buy your records.
You also receive access to our artist services (see more info below!).
Is there a backline?
No backline is provided. We ask that your setup be as stripped down as possible. If the event includes production, Sofar will provide recording equipment, but you’ll need to bring all your own gear and instruments, including amps. Some cities can provide a small PA for vocals if necessary. Please check with your local city to see if this is possible.
What does “stripped down” mean?
Stripped down does not necessarily mean acoustic, just that your usual setup should been changed to be quieter. Vocals should, in the most part, be unamplified; where possible, electric instruments should be made acoustic; drums should be replaced with other percussive elements, or a very stripped back kit; and amps should be small and portable.
Get creative! Make this an opportunity to arrange your songs in an exciting, new way that your fans haven’t heard before! If you’re struggling, get in touch and we can help you out.
Can I tell people I’m playing?
Yes, we have no problem with you announcing that you’re playing. Just make sure you keep the details to a minimum, as secrecy is part of the Sofar experience!
How will my videos be used?
Your videos will be hosted on our YouTube channel. If we ever have an opportunity to promote the video in other ways, we will always ask your permission first.
Does Sofar make money off my videos?
Any revenue from artist YouTube videos is nominal and is used exclusively for the upkeep of the channel.
Can I sell merch?
Yes! A designated Sofar team member will help you set up and sell, while our MC for the evening will make sure to call attention to your merch. You keep 100% of the sales.
What is an Alumni show?
Many of our cities host shows with lineups of stellar artists who have played with us before. We call these Alumni shows. It’s a great way to try new material, be creative, and get up close and personal with the audience. Because these shows are intimate, we ask bands to strip down their setups as much as possible. Alumni shows offer only the stipend and do not produce video content.
What resources are there for Alumni?
We have an artist services team whose aim is to make sure YOU are represented and taken care of. This team seeks feedback from artists and uses that feedback to create the best possible experience, for everyone who plays a Sofar. If you’d like to share any feedback, or ask any questions, please get in touch with us.
We’d also love to help you make connections with other members of our community! Please reach out to your local city leader if you are looking for leads on touring accommodations, venues or fellow artist to share a bill with.
Stay tuned for more artist services as we roll them out.
Can I come to other shows?
Yes! We’d love to have you join us anytime as a guest. Please reach out to your local team if you are traveling and would like to see some great local talent!
Can I play again?
Many of our Sofar cities consistently book standout Alumni to play future shows. If you are interested in performing again, please contact your local city. Keep in mind each city has complete discretion over their choice in bookings.
Can I play in other cities?
Sofar has 340 cities around the globe, in 60+ countries. We aim to support our artists so, please, get in touch with us if you’re interested. Our team compiles all touring submissions on a weekly basis and forwards them to the appropriate city leaders for review by their local teams. As much as we’d love to say yes to every request, slots are very limited in most cities. Each individual city has discretion over their bookings and will take a careful look and listen to your submission before reaching out.
You must be a Sofar Alumni to be eligible for Sofar Tours.
Where is my video?
If you’re having any issues getting in touch with your local team regarding your video, please let us know so we can help you!
How do I join my local team?
We are always looking for new people to help us make Sofar happen all over the world. If you have a passion for promoting upcoming artists, know of interesting spaces in your city, or just want to meet like-minded people, please get in touch with us here.
How do I bring Sofar Sounds to my city?
Every new Sofar City starts with someone, and that someone could be you. Contact us to find out how to bring Sofar to where you live.