Interview with Rafe Offer, Founder at Global Live Music Community: Sofar Sounds

Rafe Offer

Sofar Sounds brings people together in homes and unexpected spaces in over 400 cities around the world. The gigs are intimate, creative and inclusive – any genre goes. And they’re all about artists. Giving them breaks and helping them grow, so they can share more of the music that brings our cities to life.
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How did you come up with the idea for the company?

Back in 2009 I became frustrated by the distractions commonly found at live events like people on their phones, talking over performances, jam-packed venues and subpar stereo systems that I set out to create an alternative. Trying to change that experience led to Sofar Sounds- intimate gigs in unusual spaces to engaged audiences.


What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

First, ensure you have a way to feed yourself and your family, if you have one. It’s tough to start a company – you do everything while trying to invent the future- all with a lack of sleep! The myth of the young, starving entrepreneur is dated- you need to have a side hustle that brings in the cash.

Second, ensure the product or service is solving a problem. Too many people start things with a cool tech that ultimately has no audience. Worse, they try to scale before knowing who is going to use it.

Finally, as you grow, stick with your original vision and values. Lots of pressures (investors, friends, commercial challenges) will entice you to veer from that path, and you should be flexible, but as you grow, stay true to the path you set out to build.

What can we hope to see from Sofar Sounds in the future?

Even though this last year has been hugely challenging for artists and the live music industry as a whole, I truly believe that live music will come back bigger than ever. It’s clear people are yearning to be back together, in real life.

Throughout the pandemic, we have been creating opportunities to connect artists and fans such as virtual shows where people can donate to artists and it’s been fantastic to be able to put on gigs featuring artists from all over the world, often in one show.

Post pandemic we’ll continue to seek new ways to connect artists and fans – and I think the virtual experience is here to stay too. Artists might choose to fuse virtual and live gigs on the same night or put on micro-tours, staying really close to home. We’re keen to encourage and help acts to tour the world, first in their regions, but then with our global network, one day literally anywhere they want to play. Part of this will be having the tech to deliver ideas that are more helpful for artists, such as self-guided ‘DIY’ tours and shows where we experiment with our original format.

While it’s been brutal for the world and all of us, the potential to reset and innovate has been huge. We’re an industry built on creativity and community. When we combine that with digital technology and put artists and fans first, we can do anything.