The Echo Nest's Jim Lucchese Joins Sofar Sounds as CEO; Founder Rafe Offer Shifts to Executive Chair

Rachel Elle
Sydney Ranee'

Sofar Sounds is starting to outgrow the living room. The company, which began staging intimate secret concerts in homes, coffee shops and other donated settings in 2009, now has a presence in 428 cities from Paris to Bangalore, hosting 20 thousand shows over the past decade with artists like Billie Eilish, Hozier and Leon Bridges.

Now, as Sofar enters its 10th anniversary year, the company is shifting its leadership. London-based founder Rafe Offer announces today (Feb. 13) that he will move to the role of founder/executive chair. Taking the reigns as CEO is Jim Lucchese, the former The Echo Nest CEO who led the integration of the music intelligence platform post-acquisition at Spotify, where he served as founding global head of Creator. Lucchese, an avid drummer who previously served as a board advisor to Sofar, will be based in Boston.

"I've known Jim for two years, and I think when you want to add somebody at that level, you want to have a level of comfort," Offer tells Billboard. "I felt that he would be an amazing partner. For the next chapter, I really wanted somebody with a different set of experience than I have, who could help us set the path for the next few years. Jim is a musician as well, so he has that artist soul, and I think that's an important piece of this."

Lucchese intended to take time off after leaving Spotify in 2017, but jokes that he "couldn't help [him]self" from reaching out to Offer. "I've been thinking about how to move things forward in a way that empowers artists, does so on a global scale and connects artists and fans in a special way," he says. "And I thought Sofar is the most exciting company that I had seen. To play a role in what Sofar does in bringing artists and fans together in such a genuine way, and to do so all around the world, is a total dream job."

The new structure will free Offer up to meet face-to-face with more artists, speak at conferences and schools and "evangelize" the Sofar message, as he puts it, while Lucchese handles the operational aspects. On any given night, Sofar now hosts between 10 and 20 shows around the world, and the duo hope to grow that number even further.

"We're a community of artists, and a lot of this is about enlarging the circle that we impact," Offer says. "Over time, I'd like to be helping hundreds of thousands of artists."