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Sofar Sounds

sofarA new venture called Sofar Sounds seeks to turn ordinary living rooms into live-concert venues, reports Andy Beta in The Wall Street Journal (1/30/14). The idea has been afoot since 2009 "as a collaboration between friends and ravenous music fans Rafe Offer, Rocky Start and Dave Alexander." "The epiphany moment was in London at a small crowded bar to see Friendly Fires," says Rafe. "Rocky, Dave and I all could not believe that this superb band was playing their hearts out and yet half the room was busy talking about other things, fondling phones or clanging drinks."

So, Dave, himself an aspiring musician, "decided to invite a few friends over to his flat in the Kensal Rise neighborhood of London to play some of his new songs." "You could hear a pin drop," says Rafe. "By the third show, there was a line out the door. We knew we had to stop telling people where it was until the last possible moment." Sofar now "has expanded world-wide, with living-room concerts staged in more than 50 cities, from Seattle to Singapore, with a network of volunteers booking and organizing each show."

"I came from the coffee-shop school of singer-songwriters," says Anya Marina, who recently played a living-room in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn. "Everyone is there for one reason only: the music. That’s a rarity now." Those who host the shows do so without pay, and the musicians themselves are remunerated simply "by passing a hat around for donations." However, this "might change soon, as Sofar recently received seed funding and new investors." Rafe says he is "keen to find ways to fuel the movement, to keep up with the growth and keep doing what we love."