Countdown to Coachella 2018
Following the walks of the Grammy’s, the 19th installment of Coachella took a more urban route to attract a younger and diverse crowd for their 2 weekend event. Beyonce, Eminem and The Weekend are slated to headline this year’s festival taking place on April 13th- 15th and April 20th-22nd in Indio, California. Other noteworthy artist to hit the stage are SZA, Cardi B, Vince Staples and the Migos. But one thing is noticeably missing this year, a rock headliner.
Since the inaugural festival in 1999, a rock artist/band has managed to headline the show. Former headliners include Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Killers and Guns-N-Roses. Although Rock acts like the War on Drugs, Haim, St. Vincent and a Perfect Circle will hit the stage in April, it’s very obvious that Rock has taken a back seat at this year’s event. With such a huge shift in the line-up, I wanted to explore more of the intent of Coachella.
In 1999, Paul Tollett & Rick Van Santen sat out to create the “Anti-Woodstock”. A music festival that would book guest based on artistry rather than radio popularity. (As we can see now, that’s not the case.) Despite selling Coachella to AEG in 2001 for $7 million, Tollett kept control of all things Coachella. Even with financial backing, Coachella struggled to break even in 2002 and 2003 all while pulling in artist like the Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The event brought in about 170,000 attendees respectively for those years. Huge success followed in 2004, when Coachella reported it’s first sold out show with headliners Radiohead and The Cure. From that point on, up until 2008, Coachella sold out every year. Despite having music legends Prince and Roger Walters, 150,000 attendees, and 13.8 million dollars in revenue; ultimately, it was the lack of ticket sales and high booking fees for the headliners that pushed them in the red. In 2011, Coachella introduced its current 2 weekend, 3 day show due to customer demand. Since 2011, they’ve have sold out crowds. The highest being 579,000 in 2014 with the reuniting Outkast as the headliners.
With all of this new knowledge, it lead me to ask, “If it’s not broke, why fix it?” I’m all for inclusion but to exclude the genre that pioneered one of the largest music festivals in the U.S. is a bit puzzling. I’m sure with Beyoncé headlining this year attendance and ticket sales will be at an all-time high. It’ll be interesting to see their approach booking headliners moving forward.