Coachella was supposed to take place in April 2020, but when Covid-19 struck, festival organizers pushed the event to this month — and then again to April 2021 after virus cases in the U.S. climbed all summer. Multiple music-industry insiders now tell Rolling Stone that the 21st edition of the popular music festival will be pushed a third time, to October 2021.
Sources who have been in direct communication with AEG and Goldenvoice, the concert-promotion companies that organize the festival, say they have been asked to prepare for a move to the fall.
Coachella is “100% moving” again, one person who works at a major talent agency that represents popular festival performers tells Rolling Stone. “Frankly, they were supposed to announce [the change] over Labor Day. They hadn’t. And they were supposed to announce at the end of September — they hadn’t.” The source says they have heard from Goldenvoice CEO and Coachella founder Paul Tollett’s office that the new date will either be in the first or second week of October 2021, “but they are holding the first three weeks to be safe” as not all artists have confirmed availability.
A rep for AEG declined to comment. Riverside County health officer Cameron Kaiser and Goldenvoice officials declined to comment.
The source says they believe several other marquee festivals including Governor’s Ball, Shaky Knees and Austin City Limits will push to mid-September and early October as well — posing potentially difficult decisions for artists as they continue to schedule dates. Those festivals did not respond to request for comment.
“It’s going to be really challenging for the artists to decide because multiple factors always come in. What does the paycheck look like, what does the moment look like?” the source says. “Most, if not everyone, are watching what Coachella does. A lot of people are going to wait to see what they do before they really solidify their plans and either have to compete with artists or renegotiate.”
Another source close to the situation adds that they would “not be surprised” if Coachella ended up pushing its 2020 festival all the way to 2022, due to potential scheduling conflicts for the hundreds of artists involved and the current lack of a vaccine for the virus.
Mark Scott, the city manager of Indio, where Coachella takes place each year, says his team is working on a “budget option” for a date postponement, but he did not elaborate on what that entails. He adds that his team has yet to hear anything concrete when it comes to the revised plans.
“We know Goldenvoice is driven by a desire to deliver quality experience, so safety is a huge part of what they do,” Scott tells Rolling Stone. “It would not surprise me if they had to defer again.”
Coachella, which became a two-weekend experience in 2012, attracts around 100,000 attendees each weekend. It’s one of the largest festivals in the world, and according to travel insurance and assistance company Allianz Global Assistance, it brings in more air travelers than many American competitors, bringing in 46 percent more travelers by air than South by Southwest (SXSW) and 89 percent more than Ultra Music Festival in 2019.
The festival normally delivers a huge burst in tourism-related business for its surrounding area. This spring, the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership announced that the local economy stood to lose about $700 million due to the 2020 absence of both Coachella and Stagecoach. For that reason, Scott says Indio city officials would love to see the festival happen next April, but adds that they “entirely trust Goldenvoice’s judgment.”