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Controversy over Coachella car park changes

Coachella organisers have received criticism from festivalgoers over the event’s revised parking policy.

The 125,000-cap festival will return across two consecutive weekends (12-14 and 19-21 April) at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California.

Under new rules implemented this year by promoter Goldenvoice, only vehicles with four or more people will be permitted into the day car park, “with no exceptions”.

Everyone in the vehicle must have a valid festival wristband and corresponding parking pass upon arrival, while vehicles that do not meet the requirements will be turned away and directed to a “nearby, offsite location”.

Previously, day parking was on a first-come, first-served basis, and the switch has been criticised by some ticket-holders on social media, who have questioned the logistics and rationale behind the move.

Speaking to the Desert Sun, Indio police spokesperson Ben Guitron says the city had no role in the decision.

“Anything Goldenvoice does, we’re in a partnership and want to know if there’s a significant impact”

“Anything Goldenvoice does, we’re in a partnership and want to know if there’s a significant impact… and make sure there are no traffic delays unless there are unforeseen things that sometimes happen,” adds Guitron, who points out that traffic issues often crop up on the opening day of the event.

“[The first day] is something we look at closely because that’s going to set the tone on how the rest of the concert traffic will be. We had two years where we didn’t have the festivals because of Covid, but there were a lot of street improvements, so the flow of traffic is better. We don’t see a strain unless people don’t follow the directions they’ve been given to get to the concert.”

Goldenvoice, which has long encouraged carpooling to the event, has not responded to requests for comment.

Lana Del Rey, Tyler, the Creator, Doja Cat and No Doubt will headline the 2024 edition of Coachella, which has reportedly experienced its slowest ticket sales in a decade.

While No Doubt and Sublime are reuniting for the event, festival curator and Goldenvoice president Paul Tollett revealed this week that he also attempted to get legendary American band Talking Heads back together.

Tollett told Billboard he travelled to the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival for a 40th anniversary celebration of the Talking Heads’ concert film Stop Making Sense to potentially discuss having the band perform at Coachella. Tollett says he met with the group and their representatives, but “sensed there were no shows happening, so I didn’t make an offer”.


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Paul Tollett on Coachella’s past, present & future

Goldenvoice boss Paul Tollett has opened up on the evolution of Coachella and offered a glimpse into the future of the event in a new interview.

Bad Bunny, Blackpink, Frank Ocean and Skrillex, Fred Again.. and Four Tet headlined the most recent edition at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, back in April, which also featured acts such as Calvin Harris, Gorillaz, Burna Boy, Blink-182, the Chemical Brothers, Blondie, Rosalia, Eric Prydz, The Kid Laroi, Charli XCX and Björk.

The US festival’s co-founder Tollett was joined by AEG’s global touring SVP Michael Harrison for an ‘in conversation’ session at the inaugural SXSW Sydney last week in Australia.

Tollett revealed that Coachella was unlikely to grow beyond its current 150,000-capacity – in person at least.

“I don’t know it needs to be bigger,” said Tollett, who highlighted the event’s long-running livestreaming deal with YouTube as a means for it to expand its audience without increasing on-site capacity.

YouTube livestreamed performances from all six stages at Coachella, on both weekends of the festival, for the first time this year and Tollett credited the partnership – along with international headliners such as Blackpink – with extending the brand’s global reach.

“Things have changed so much now, people want to book a year in advance. I don’t want to, I want to wait and see what’s out there”

“All of a sudden you have the biggest artist in that region. And what it does is, it just gets everyone watching from that area,” he said. Coachella wasn’t really that well known in Asia. Now, everyone in Indonesia follows it, not just Korea. It became a thing where no matter what country you’re in, you could watch it like it’s your show.”

Tollett said the first two Coachellas, held in 1999 and 2001, lost a million dollars after attracting just 17,000 and 21,000 fans respectively, reports Audience Republic.

In its first decade, Tollett added, he didn’t start booking the line-up until around six months before the event, and still believed in not planning too far ahead of time.

“It’s a rolling 90-day masterplan,” he said. “I haven’t even finished booking next April’s show, and it announces in January. Things have changed so much now, people want to book a year in advance. I don’t want to, I want to wait and see what’s out there.

“I never say, ‘In the next three years, I’m changing it to this,’ it just changes. As it goes you look back and go, ‘Oh it changed over the last three years.’ You do it by the music. The music is leading the culture. You just start seeing trends when you look back.”

Coachella is scheduled to return over two weekends from 12-14 & 19-21 April 2024.

“There’s a growing trend out there between managers, agents, promoters, who like to do these multi-year, multi-cycle deals”

LA-based Australian promoter Harrison, meanwhile, who made the switch from Frontier Touring five years ago, discussed how global touring deals had changed the live music landscape.

“There’s a growing trend out there between managers, agents, promoters, who like to do these multi-year, multi-cycle deals,” he said. “What that allows you to do is have longer periods of time where a promoter is engaged with an artist, and you can really get involved and invest in their growth campaigns by touring.”

A celebration of the tech, film and music industries South By Southwest (SXSW) made its debut in Sydney, Australia from 15-22 October, and featured 400 sessions and more than 700 speakers from around the world, including Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Chance the Rapper and Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker.

In addition, the SXSW Sydney Music Festival took place across locations including the Hollywood Hotel, the Lansdowne and Lord Gladstone, hosting more than 250 artists and over 300 performances.

The official annual Asia Pacific instalment of the US conference and showcase festival, SXSW Sydney was a collaboration with promoter TEG, the NSW government and tourism agency Destination NSW.

The next edition of SXSW’s flagship US event is set for Austin, Texas between 8-16 March 2024.


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Jenn Yacoubian and Stacy Vee named Goldenvoice EVPs

AEG Presents has named Jenn Yacoubian and Stacy Vee as executive vice presidents of its subsidiary, Goldenvoice.

The pair will oversee the booking department at Goldenvoice, in addition to continuing their roles as talent buyers for their respective festivals and venues, reporting to the president of Goldenvoice Paul Tollett.

Yacoubian joined Goldenvoice in 2009 and is currently a national touring talent buyer and the primary talent buyer for the Greek Theatre Los Angeles and Splash House festival. She is also one of the core members of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival booking team and the producer and booker for the Los Angeles festival Cruel World.

Vee started with Goldenvoice in 2002 and is currently responsible for producing and booking the Stagecoach and Just Like Heaven festivals, as well as consulting on booking strategy across many of the festivals in AEG Presents’ global portfolio.

“They have built extraordinary careers here and I couldn’t be happier to elevate them both”

“Goldenvoice is a company that has endlessly supported my creativity and career growth,” says Jenn Yacoubian, “I am beyond honoured, and excited, to be in a position of leadership, where I now get the opportunity to support and nurture the next generation of rising stars at GV.”

Stacy Vee adds: “It is a privilege to play such an important part in the ongoing growth, creative strategy and success at Goldenvoice. I am inspired by the people and culture around me every day and look forward to continuing to push boundaries in a leadership role at this company.”

Paul Tollett comments: “Stacy and Jenn play a large part in the culture of Goldenvoice. They have built extraordinary careers here and I couldn’t be happier to elevate them both to executive vice president.”

Goldenvoice is a subsidiary of AEG and one of the world’s biggest promoters. The company produces several festivals, operates 14 mid-sized venues and promotes over 1,800 shows per year.


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“Youth must be served”: Diverse, green Coachella draws positive reaction

After a stormy start, the second weekend of the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival received a favourable reaction from the nearly 125,000 people on site, according to local media, with music fans responding positively to bookers’ hip hop-heavy, youth-focused programming.

Promoted by AEG’s Goldenvoice, Coachella – which traditionally marks the beginning of the international festival season – returned to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California for its 19th outing on 13–15 April and 20–22 April, with the Weeknd, Beyoncé and Eminem headlining.

Coachella weekend two got underway on Friday morning (20 April), after revellers were turned away from campsites on Thursday evening owing to intense winds. (Many camped out in the car park of Indio’s Walmart, holding a mini festival of their own,‘Walmart-chella’.)

Coachella has been split into two weekends since 2012, and while there are only minor differences in the music at each (mainly when it comes to special appearances), weekend two is widely regarded as the quieter of the two, with fewer celebrities flaunting their outfits for the ’gram and arguably more ‘real’ music fans, along with an increased number of industry guests.

Headliner Beyoncé largely repeated her performance from the first weekend, once again ‘turning Coachella into Beychella’ with the help of her former Destiny’s Child bandmates, although Japanese rock act X Japan simultaneously gave a strong performance in the Mojave tent, joined by special guest Marilyn Manson.

Temperatures were also higher for Coachella 2018’s second outing, reaching more than 90°F (33°C) compared to the low to mid-80s the previous weekend.

Following AEG UK’s events in banning plastic straws, the festival additionally notable for its ban on single-use plastic straws, phasing them out in favour of paper. “Plastic pollution is a huge problem around the world, and it’s exciting to pioneer change by phasing out the use of single-use plastics from our festivals,” says Mapi Moran, Goldenvoice’s director of festival marketing.

The eclectic line-up drew “an appreciative crowd that looks different from other years”

“Our new straw policy is estimated to eliminate about 300,000 plastic straws from Coachella and Stagecoach. We look forward to announcing similar initiatives later that go beyond just plastic straws.”

According the Desert Sun, Goldenvoice founder Gary Tovar described the audience for Coachella 2018 as a “new generation” of festivalgoers. The “youth must be served”, he said, referencing the urban-focused music line-up – which included fellow headliners Eminem and the Weeknd, along with Post Malone, Vince Staples, Tyler the Creator, Migos (pictured) and Cardi B.

And served the youth were, with the eclectic line-up drawing “an appreciative crowd that looks different from other years”, writes Desert Sun reporter Bruce Ferrier. “It seemed the diverse bands booked by Goldenvoice were attracting diverse audiences.”

“When a singer with Los Angeles Azules proclaimed, ‘We have no wall here’ in Spanish, cheers erupted from the crowd,” he continues.

“Singer Maria Conway of the Marias, dressed in a glittering gown in front of a quintet of guys wearing red suits and white open-collar shirts, mixed English and Spanish-language dream pop-rock in the Sonora tent. She noted there are 167 acts on the Coachella bill and 15 [are] Latino [or] Latino-led. ‘I’m so proud to be part of that,’ she said.”

Goldenvoice has yet to release audience figures from the festival, but CEO Paul Tollett said before the event he expects similar numbers to 2017, when all 250,000 tickets sold out, making it the highest-grossing festival in the world.

Coachella will return for its 20th-anniversary event next April.


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Coachella 2018: Valley braces for boom as festival season begins

Local businesses in California’s Coachella Valley are stocking up in preparation for this weekend’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the star-studded 125,000-cap. phenomenon that traditionally marks the start of the international festival season.

Promoted by AEG’s Goldenvoice, the event returns to the Empire Polo Club in Indio for its 19th outing on 13–15 April and 20–22 April, with the Weeknd, Beyoncé and Eminem headlining. Around 250,000 tickets were sold for Coachella 2017, making it the highest-grossing festival in the world, and Goldenvoice chief Paul Tollett expects similar numbers this year – as do the small businesses set to take advantage of the event’s huge economic impact.

According to the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership, last year’s festival season brought in $400 million to the Coachella Valley, and $700 million to the surrounding region.

Richard Thomas, GM of Indio’s LG Desert Store, tells local radio station KMIR extra foot traffic not only comes from festivalgoers but also the thousands of employees the event hires. “Police come by, security guards come by, the truckers come by,” he comments. “We will even have an artist drop by every once in a while.”

Chamber of Commerce president Joshua Bonner says Coachella makes up for the slower summer months of business: “Sitting at the end of the [winter] season helped to really expand the shoulder all the way to April, and that’s a massive impact on our economy in every level.”

Commenting on the reaction to Coachella 2018’s hip hop-heavy line-up – in addition to the headliners, Post Malone, Vince Staples, Tyler the Creator, Migos and Cardi B feature prominently –Tollett tells the Desert Sun: “I don’t like when there’s an instant review of a line-up. I wish there was a 60-minute cool-down period of people to be able to click through everything. ”

“It has a massive impact on our economy in every level”

He concedes that “the last couple years we’ve been going a little heavier on hip-hop”, but says it’s “just that this is what it turned out to be. We’ve had all rock headliners before. We’ve had different things. It’s not forever.”

Representing the older demographic, meanwhile, are electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarrre, former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, UK jazz-funk outfit Jamiroquai and Chic’s Nile Rodgers.

By far the biggest name on the bill, however, is Beyoncé, who pulled out last year on the advice of doctors. Tollett says he’s breaking his own rule on not booking artists already playing in LA in order to get the new mother back to Indio for 2018.

“The Beyoncé story dominates everything,” he says. “She saw her husband play here [in 2010] and came back as a fan. So did Jay-Z. They’ve been friends of the festival. We actually had a blast with them.

“So, she gets pregnant. Twins. Cancellation. Because of the timing of her postponing to this year, they had a whole tour set up, her and Jay-Z. Generally, I won’t let an artist announce a local [Los Angeles] show if they’re playing Coachella. I want them to concentrate on this show. That was the intent here, too, until I started thinking: There have just been so many extenuating circumstances on this one. I can’t even add them all up.

“I’m not looking to put lines in sand right now on Beyoncé. She’s been great to us.”

Coachella 2018 takes place on 13–15 April and 20–22 April.


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No Desert Trip 2017, says Goldenvoice’s Tollett

Despite grossing in excess of US$150 million and spawning an imitator in the form of Live Nation’s The Classic, Goldenvoice’s Desert Trip megafestival will not return this summer, Goldenvoice’s Paul Tollett has confirmed.

“We’re not doing Desert Trip this year,” Tollett, the CEO of the AEG-owned promoter and co-founder of Coachella, tells Billboard. “We loved [the] 2016 Desert Trip; that was a special moment in time. Maybe someday in the future we’ll do something similar.”

“Maybe someday in the future we’ll do something similar”

There had been widespread speculation Goldenvoice would try to repeat the success of 2016’s inaugural event, which was dubbed ‘Oldchella’ for its heritage line-up of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, Roger Waters and The Who.

In addition to delivering an estimated $160m for AEG, Desert Trip contributed $250m worth of economic impact to the surrounding area in Indio, California, around the festival.


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