Festivals have become a preferred way for artists to gain visibility and earn some serious cash, but their ubiquity has often leaves these events competing for customers, causing them to implement a "radius clause" but Coachella, it seems, may have taken this clause too far.
Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0
Everyone wants to play festivals these days. If you’re a new act then they can provide great visibility, and if you’re established then you can make some real bucks. The problem is that there are now so many festivals that they’re competing for customers, and that means contract language that’s meant to protect the festival from competition to some degree. As a result, most festival performer agreements now have what’s known as a “radius clause” to limit when and were the artist can play another festival, but many artists claim that Coachella’s goes to far.
Coachella’s radius clause prohibits an act’s appearance at all other North American festivals from December 15, 2017 to May 1, 2018. What’s worse, artists were also asked not to play shows in venues other than a festival setting in 7 Southern California counties during that same time. On top of that, artists also have to announce that Coachella is their first festival appearance of the year. Needless to say, many acts, especially the smaller ones with less negotiating power, are livid.
The Soul’d Out festival in Portland is too, and is now suing Coachella, claiming that many artists have turned down performances at the festival as a result of Coachella’s radius clause, and that it violates federal antitrust laws.
Actually, radius clauses have always been in the contract language of most festival agreements, but the limitations are usually playing within a 300 mile radius 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after the festival, which seems reasonable. Plus, the bigger the act, the more negotiating power it has to strike this clause from the agreement entirely. The fact that the Coachella radius clause runs for 6 months and covers all of North America is considered excessive by many, and limits the ability of an artist to make money during the most lucrative time of the year.
Practically speaking, most artists are able to work out exceptions so they can play other festivals, but that takes time and money. Some artists just violate the terms and wait for Coachella to come after them, which has yet to happen.
Either way, the radius clause is something that artist’s rarely think about, but can have a big effect on one’s career if you’re not careful.