Sofar Sounds has taken its musical notes worldwide.
Let's take a few steps back. In 2009, founder and CEO Rafe Offer created Sofar Sounds as a hobby.
"Some friends and I were at a Friendly Fires gig in Soho, London and everything felt off," Offer explained. "People were talking, the glasses clanging at the bar were competing with the music and we couldn’t believe how many people were busy watching the show through their phones instead of connecting with the musicians on stage."
Talk about a not-so-personal experience. Offer felt that there had to be a better way to enjoy live music. To "experience live events."
Offer took a venue into his own hands. Literally. He invited friends over to a London flat to listen to music in a more intimate setting. "A friend played a couple of songs for us on his guitar."
This, essentially, became the first Sofar Sounds show. "There were about eight people in the room and I swear, you could hear the clock ticking in the background. It was really special."
The sounds became contagious as friends (and even friends of friends) started to bring "the experience to their living rooms in other corners of the world."
Venues do not always have to be at a bar, a club, a restaurant. Sofer and Offer pushed musical boundaries. They decided to create Sofar based off the idea of holding musical events in people's private homes and apartments. "We pride ourselves on showcasing amazing talent in nontraditional venues."
As Sofar grows, the locations become more varied. "We've hosted in a variety of places from churches to hoodie shoes to fancy furniture showrooms."
Not wild enough for you? Sofar even held an event at the top of an Olympic ski jump in Norway! (Side note: whoever was there, I want to hear ALL about it. ASAP.)
Hosting Sofars is all about bringing the magic of music into a welcoming home. "For some people, that means experiencing a concert in the warmth of their living room."
After ten years, Offer can still happily say that he hosts Sofars in his home in London.
Artists who want to perform can submit their music through the Sofar website. There are listening teams, each corresponding to the specific city an artist requested to play in. The team will reach out to the artist if they feel that they are a good fit.
"Our teams take a lot of time and effort to curate unique and diverse lineups," Offer explains. "All music submitted to Sofar is listened to by a our review teams, which are made up of people with diverse backgrounds and musical tastes to make sure there isn’t a bias."
Why? Sofar wants to "discover the best new music possible for our audiences to enjoy."
From new artists to well known acts, lineups vary and engaging with guests is what the quality acts are known for.
In 2017, Sofar went above and beyond with their most ambitious project, called Give a Home. "We hosted nearly 300 shows in one day around the world to benefit Amnesty International and refugees around the world."
Not only did they host roughly 300 shows, they even got veteran artists to perform along with the newcomers!
"Major artists like Ed Sheeran, Jorja Smith, Local Natives and Hozier all supported, playing to crowds of about 100 people in living rooms across 60 countries."
Offer is humbled by the event and loved making a difference through music for such an important cause.
Connections, connections, connections. Sofar events lead to artist, host, and guest connections. Even the Sofar team gets involved! Did you know there have been at least six marriages as a result of meeting at Sofar?
Artists like Leon Bridges, Bastille, and James Bay are just a few of the arts that "started out playing Sofar before they became famous." YEBBA, another new artist, played Sofar NYC in September of 2016. "Her video has since gone viral with over 3 million views. Ed Sheeran saw her Sofar video and invited her to open for him. She's also since collaborated with Sam Smith on his recent album." You go girl!
The Sofar team has expanded, with full-time teams in cities like Denver and Seattle. "We want talented artists to have the platform to play in as many cities as possible, and for guests to be able to have the best Sofar experience possible, wherever in the world they may be."
With technology expanding and people filming concerts more than just experiencing it, Sofar has tried to stick with engaging an audience. Their motto still sticks from ten years ago. Discovering new music for audiences to enjoy. At the end of the day, everyone wants a physical connection with great music and even better company.
Check out Sofar @sofarsounds
Watch past events on Sofar's YouTube channel
Photo Credit from top to bottom:
Cover photo: Brian Hamm