Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 10 July 2020

Will Coachella be pushed back to 2021? Organisers ask 2020 acts to play next year, say insiders

The Californian music festival, which has already been postponed until October, is due to be headlined by Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean

California's Coachella music festival has been postponed to October, but insiders now claim it could be pushed back again to 2021. Getty Images
California's Coachella music festival has been postponed to October, but insiders now claim it could be pushed back again to 2021. Getty Images

The organisers of the Coachella music festival are asking artists lined up for the annual event to play in 2021 instead, according to insiders, in the clearest sign yet that this year’s show will be cancelled.

Rage Against the Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean are set to headline the festival, which takes place every year on polo fields in Indio, California, a desert town a few hours outside of Los Angeles. Coachella is the largest music festival in the US, generating as much as $100 million (Dh367m) in sales for promoter Goldenvoice and its parent AEG.

Goldenvoice has already postponed Coachella to October from April in response to the coronavirus pandemic. But, with many government officials imposing social distancing and other restrictions on businesses as they reopen, the odds of pulling off an event that attracts as many as 200,000 people grow dimmer by the day.

“While this decision comes at a time of universal uncertainty, we take the safety and health of our guests, staff and community very seriously,” Goldenvoice said in a statement on March 10.

The promoter, which has said little about Coachella’s future since announcing the postponement, didn’t respond to a request for comment. Chief executive Paul Tollett and his team need to firm up plans with artists and settle financial issues like insurance, said people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the plans are still in flux. Local health officials also have to weigh in.

Goldenvoice may be able to minimise its losses by persuading fans to roll over their current tickets to 2021. Some acts have consented to playing next year, but others have yet to do so for both health and financial reasons, according to insiders. Not every performer in the 2020 lineup has been asked to play next year, according to one person.

We believe 2021 can return to show volume and fan attendance at levels consistent with what we’ve seen in recent years

Michael Rapino, Live Nation

The concert industry has all but given up on staging large events in 2020, at least in the US, the country with the most confirmed cases of Covid-19. Live Nation Entertainment Inc, the world’s largest concert promoter, has targeted summer 2021 for festivals to return.

“We believe 2021 can return to show volume and fan attendance at levels consistent with what we’ve seen in recent years,” chief executive Michael Rapino said on May 7.

Other festivals including Burning Man, Montreux Jazz Festival and Glastonbury have already called off their 2020 events, though the latter will hold a virtual concert highlighting some of the best sets in the festival's 50-year history.

Updated: May 30, 2020 09:24 AM

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