Update, March 10th: Organizers have issued an official statement moving Coachella to October.
The annual festival was originally scheduled to take place over two back-to-back weekends — April 10th, 11th, and 12th, followed by April 17th, 18th, and 19th — at Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, about two hours outside of Los Angeles. A newly reunited Rage Against the Machine was set to headline alongside Travis Scott and Frank Ocean. Coachella and its sister festival Stagecoach together bring in some $1.4 billion in profits each year, and an estimated 600,000 people attended the former last year.
Several artist managers have been in talks with Goldenvoice for the last week discussing postponement of the festival, a source familiar with the situation told Rolling Stone Monday night, adding that the cancelation of SXSW and the recent outbreak of cases in California’s Riverside County “really changed everyone’s tune.” Another source said Coachella “confirmed” postponement with their agency on Monday night, but did not provide further details. A third source close to the situation said the talks are ongoing and not finalized yet.
Journalist Yashar Ali wrote on Twitter that the festival is being moved to October 9th and October 16th, per an industry source. Neither AEG nor Goldenvoice, the AEG subsidiary that puts on both festivals, responded to request for comment, and neither entity has issued a public statement or announced rescheduled dates. A source involved in the situation told Rolling Stone that an official statement is likely to come within the next day.
California has been one of the U.S. states hit hardest by the global coronavirus outbreak, reporting over 110 confirmed cases and at least one death as of Monday evening. On Sunday, Riverside County, which stretches from outside of Los Angeles into the Southern California desert and includes the small town of Indio, declared a public health emergency after it announced that a patient was being treated for coronavirus at a local hospital. On Monday night, Riverside announced three new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of cases of COVID-19 in the county to six.
If postponed, Coachella would be the third major festival to be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, following South by Southwest in Austin and Ultra Festival in Miami. Additionally, Nashville’s Tin Pan South Songwriters festival was postponed because of both coronavirus fears and a recent tornado that tore through the city last week. Health professionals have noted that with large, dense gatherings like music festivals, the safest way to mitigate risk is to avoid going altogether — simply because of the nature of the events. “You’re going to have the same risk just because you’re with a lot of people,” Celine Thum, the chief medical officer at emergency medical services provider Paradocs Worldwide, told Rolling Stone last week. “These hazards are present at every festival.”
For the past few months, the coronavirus has also upended the Asian live music market as an array of regional acts canceled shows and Western acts plotting overseas tours, like Green Day, Stormzy, Khalid and the National, soon followed suit.
Samantha Hissong, Ethan Millman, and Jon Blistein contributed reporting.