I am currently obsessed with Sofar Sounds. It’s just a super cool, super neat concert series that is cool and neat for both the fans AND the musicians.
First, read an interview I did with the Austin City Director of Sofar Sounds at TODO Austin here.
And if you won’t read that (you won’t), let me tell you about it anyway.
Sofar Sounds is a micro-gig series. You apply for a spot and if you get in, you pay a small ticket fee and the gig location is sent to you a couple of days before the show. It’s unique because you don’t know where you’re going to go until you get the email (though they tell you the general area when you register), and you don’t know who you’re going to see play until you get there. Also, when I say “micro-gig,” I really do mean micro gig. The audiences are small, and the venues are too — think someone’s living room, a bar’s backyard, a yoga studio, a person’s patio. It’s a fun, intimate, stripped-down way to see what’s going on in your local music scene.
In Austin, there’s a whole team working to find cool bands and cool places. Right now Sofar Austin is running about 3 gigs a month, and there are usually 3 bands for each gig. There’s no talking, no phones (I mean, during the sets, but feel free to go crazy in between), no distractions, and you have to stay for the whole show. Also, you usually have to sit on the floor. BUT there’s often free booze, especially if the host kicks in for a keg. Yes, whomever is inviting 30 strangers into their space will get a keg. If there’s no keg or sponsor, it’s a BYOB-type situation, which is still a-okay.
But honestly, the coolest thing is that you get to sit five feet away from a musician you may already love, for a super cheap ticket price. Recently I watched Sons of Santos, an Austin band I positively adore (seriously, check them out) and have regularly paid MONEY to see. And now I’m just sitting right here listening and chatting with them. Or you find a new band to obsess over. At another gig I discovered the full-of-personality-and-swagger Dr. Joe, and I’m like, “How did I not know you existed in Austin because you are now my favorite person EVARRRR.” So thanks, Sofar Austin!
Also, the musicians hang out too and mingle so you get to chat if you’re interested in that kind of thing.
So that’s why it’s cool for fans, but it’s also cool for musicians. First of all, you get paid — this isn’t a charity gig. It varies depending on the city, but there’s either a flat fee, or you can arrange for a video of one of your songs (check out Sofar Sounds on YouTube to see what I’m talking about). Really valuable to those artists who are still building an audience and portfolio.
Speaking of audiences, you don’t need to bring your own! If you’re a musician, you know the worst part about have a gig is wondering how many people are going to show up. You can only beg your friends to come to your gigs so many times before they start hating you (looking at you, every musician I’ve ever known). And if you’re relying on ticket sales or a cut of the bar you know you might end up out of luck at the end of the night. Sofar comes with a guaranteed rapt audience who is into live music. In fact, that’s why we’re there! The series represents all genres too; all you have to do is apply. And it’s pretty easy to apply. It’s a fantastic way to build up an audience if you’re still doing that, along with getting some quality media for your press pack and website, or even just to meet other local musicians working in the area. If you’re more established, it’s a good way to expose yourself to different audiences, test out new material, promote an upcoming album, or just surprise people because you are a cool person who likes to do stuff like that.
So, obviously, I’m a fan. You should all definitely register and apply for some upcoming shows here.
If you’re a musician or a band, you should also definitely register and apply because it’s a great opportunity and the worst thing they could do is say no, in which case you just get a little better and then reapply.
And if you have an amazing living room that’s just begging to host a show, why are you keeping that amazing living room all to yourself? SELFISH and RUDE. Apply to host a Sofar Sounds gig here.