Tired of noisy music venues where you can hardly see the stage? Sofar Sounds puts on concerts in people's living rooms where fans pay $15 to $30 to sit silently on the floor and truly listen.
I mean... nooooo? That sounds dreadful. But go on...
Nearly 1 million guests have attended Sofar's more than 20,000 gigs. Having attended a half dozen of the shows, I can say they're blissful...unless you're a musician to pay a living. In some cases, Sofar pays just $100 per band for a 25 minute set, which can work out to just $8 per musician per hour or less. Hosts get nothing, and Sofar keeps the rest, which can range from $1100 to $1600 or more per gig -- many times what each performer takes home. The argument was that bands got exposure, and it was a tiny startup far from profitability.
Today, Sofar Sounds announced it's raised a $25 million round led by Battery Ventures and Union Square Ventures, building on the previous $6 million it'd scored from Octopus Ventures and Virgin Group. The goal is expansion -- to become the de facto way emerging artists play outside of traditional venues. [...]
The startup has enriched culture by offering an alternative to late night, dark and dirty club shows that don't appeal to hard-working professionals or older listeners.
How shall I put this...
You and me, we are never going to be friends.
By comparison, Sofar makes Uber look downright generous. A source who's worked with Sofar tells me the company keeps a lean team of full-time employees who focus on reserving venues, booking artists, and promotion. All the volunteers who actually put on the shows aren't paid, and neither are the venue hosts.
Ok, first of all... The author trying really hard to compute the "hourly rate" of the tambourine
If you're in a nobody band, and you get a slot as first of 3 on a bill, $100 is actually generous. That's the sort of guarantee an opener is only likely to get at a show that is already predicted to go pretty well.
There are several common ways that live show contracts work. Sometimes it's just a flat fee. But for small shows with up-and-coming acts, a typical structure would be: $X guarantee (the bands get that no matter what), then if the door takes in more than $X, the house gets the rest up to $Y (to cover costs: rent, insurance, sound tech, light tech, security, cashier, manager, and oh yeah promoting the show) and anything above $Y, the bands and the house split 80/20. For a really small show, $X is probably 0. For a big show, it might be $20k. Then the bands split their take probably 60/30/10. So for the opener to have a guarantee of $100, that means X=1000, which suggests a high degree of confidence of 100+ paid on a $10 ticket. Now it's not so small a show any more.
This company is doing the typical "gig economy" trick of externalizing all of their costs onto the
contractors volunteers rubes. They have some small administration costs (shared across multiple cities and probably highly automated), but no room costs, no staff costs.
If I didn't have to pay the 5 to 30 people it takes to put on a show each night (not counting the artists!), and the room itself was free, those shows would be a lot more profitable. Oh yeah, and all of my friends would be unemployed.