Sofar Sounds, a live music for-profit corporation, has been ordered to pay a huge amount of money to 645 unpaid workers. The company specializes in small-scale acoustic concerts, which can be held anywhere from public stores to one’s living room. Currently, they operate in cities across the globe, from London to San Fransisco. After several years of controversy over Sofar Sounds’ payment practices to its artists and workers, they are finally paying the price.
The settlement was reached with the New York State Department of Labor, as Variety reported. The settlement doesn’t come cheap as Sofar Sounds must pay $460,357.50. This amount will be distributed amongst the 645 unpaid workers or ‘ambassadors’ who worked at concerts between 2016 and 2019. In terms of the artists’ current pay, it’s still unclear whether it will improve much. Surprisingly, artists working under Sofar Sounds were paid in the form of a video of their performance. Eventually, once the artists became “Sofar Alums”, they would be paid a mere $50 per show. Now, Sofar has increased its pay to $100 for a 25-minute set. Unfortunately, the pay is still uncomfortably under minimum wage, leaving much more room for improvement.
In the wake of all the criticism, Sofar stated they are committed to supporting local artists and “increasing artist compensation for larger shows”. With the new year, we hope to see the gap between Sofar’s profit and artist/crew wages improve. In detail, you can read more into the Sofar controversy in a report by Techcrunch earlier last year. Lastly, take a look at a statement from a Sofar spokesman given to Variety below.
Sofar Sounds Response
“Today’s agreement with the New York State Department of Labor stipulates no admission of guilt or wrongdoing and confirms our operating model is fully compliant with New York state law. We thank them for working collaboratively with us in New York, Sofar’s biggest U.S. market. We are excited about resolving these issues and moving forward in 2020, with a continued focus on connecting local and independent musicians with passionate music fans.”