I want to make you aware of Sofar Sounds. The website gives a short, simple description:
“We have created a movement which brings music lovers together in secret living room locations to hear some of the world’s most cutting edge artists. In order to create an intimate and spellbinding atmosphere, we ask that nobody talk during performances.” www.sofarsounds.com
Here’s what it looks like:
A simple concept, but started in the same spirit that made me want to write this blog. It’s a platform for bringing people and music together in a memorable atmosphere, and by doing so, gives the art a way of recapturing its aura and authenticity. Bringing the quiet respect and reverie that accompanies a poetry reading and applying that to an art form that, at times, appears to be floundering in a miserable state, partly of its own creation.
In the good old days, it was easy to make people pay for music. They simply had to; there wasn’t an option. At first, people were able to sell recorded music in the form of written notation, distributing instructions on how to recreate the sound of the piece in your own home, using nothing more than a simple piano and your own voice. If you wanted to hear music, you had to learn how to play it. Or, you could find a friend who knew how, but you’d have to find someone willing, then sit down together and experience it, most likely with even more people involved. It was a group experience, shared interpretations of a composer’s vision. Otherwise, you’d have to go to a scheduled live performance. Music was impossible without investing either time or money, but most likely both.
Even with the arrival of mechanical reproduction, allowing for most of the 20th Century music industry to happen, the music industry held all the cards. Recording equipment was expensive. If a songwriter wanted to record, they had to find someone with enough money to buy and maintain this equipment, and they’d have to work out an arrangement with them to use their facilities in return for a fee, or a share in the profits of the music. The people who owned the equipment could make as many recordings as they liked, transforming various materials into objects that would recreate a musical performance in people’s homes. Whatever the specifics of the artist/manager/record company relationship, the audiences couldn’t get their mitts on the music of their favourite artist without going through the men who controlled the recording equipment.
Now though, we’re here. Digital reproduction allows any of us to make endless free, perfect copies of any music we own. We can call thousands of songs within a few moments of deciding we’d like to hear something, and all this does something to the power music can have to affect us. With fewer people respecting music as art, and with so many subcultures through the last century co-opted by mainstream companies and used in advertising, songs which may have once poignantly expressed a social injustice or beautiful captured a moment in time are shackled to this week’s special at Burger King or last month’s car insurance deals.
The Internet however, is one of the most amazing inventions humans have ever managed to conjure into being. No one can live without it, and yet, it completely erodes the power the Music industry once had. Whereas a band may once have had to talk to several companies and work out major deals just to distribute national posters, they can now tell all their fans the world over what’s going on with a simple tweet. So let’s use it. Any solution to the problems music faces in the current digital world must circumvent any problems with the Internet and embrace digital culture at their heart. There’s still amazing music, the web can show anyone that this planet is still full of incredible bands and artists, but there’s gotta be a better way to bring them to people than Facebook.
Sofar Sounds invites you to really experience music again. An intimate and unusually familiar setting: a stranger’s living room. A secret line up, encompassing amazing music, handpicked to perform at each event, and you. The audience are lucky enough to experience the true aura of music, in an age when it feels almost impossible. Making use of a digital revolution that has affected everything, Sofar Sounds can let interested people know they’ll be running an event in their city. The audience attend, but are asked to remain silent, occupying only their own head space – while the musicians provoke emotion, using the renewed potency of their art in the space to communicate with an audience in a way that seemed lost forever.
Not only this, but the bewitching performances are livestreamed online, and the videos are recorded for YouTube. This way, Sofar can elevate the artists that perform, bringing them to even more people’s attention. They use the Internet to encourage investment in music. Invest your time and your thoughts and the results you’ll end up receiving from music will be that much greater.
This is why I’m getting involved. I’ll be covering as many Sofar gigs in Brighton as I can, but I need your help. If you’d like to be a part of spreading the word and covering Sofar gigs around the city, get in contact with me via: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sofar Sounds is also running a pledgemusic campaign. where you can get yourself some exclusive rewards in return to a small donation. Check it out here.