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 credits 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. 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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