Goldenvoice and AEG are considering a six-month postponement of Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and Stagecoach: California’s Country Music Festival, two of the crown jewels of the North American live entertainment festival industry held in Indio, Calif., to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to an unnamed source and an article published tonight by Billboard.
Pollstar has reached out to AEG for comment but hadn't heard back at publication time.
The news comes as Riverside County, where Indio is located, declared a public health emergency after the first locally acquired case of coronavirus was confirmed, according to the Los Angeles Times.Both events at press time were still scheduled to take place in April at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, Calif.
Coachella is set to stage April 10-12 and April 17-19, with Frank Ocean, Rage Against The Machine and Travis Scott as headliners. Stagecoach was locked in for April 24-26 with Thomas Rhett, Carrie Underwood and Eric Church as headliners. It was unclear at press time whether the lineup for either event would be altered by the postponement. According to the Billboard report, Coachella would move to the weekends of Oct. 9 and Oct. 16 and Stagecoach could move to the following weekend Oct. 23
The moving of the two major festivals are a clear sign that the live entertainment industry in the U.S. may be disrupted to prevent the spread of the disease. Ultra Music Festival in Miami and SXSW in Austin were both called of at the behest of local authorities last week. It was unclear at press time whether the decision to postpone the events came from Goldenvoice / AEG Presents or local authorities in the Palm Springs area.
In other parts of the world the live industry has already been significantly disrupted, particularly in Southeast Asia. Last week Pollstar reported that the concert business in South Korea virtually shut down and the Japanese government called for a change in how the country was handling containment of the disease, issuing a directive to halt or curtail large public gatherings.
After the cancellation of prominent trade fairs, the German promoters association BDVK said its members feared for their existence.
At ILMC Move Concerts CEO Phil Rodriguez urged his peers not to commit professional “suicide” by prematurely canceling events and building hysteria being spread by the media. “On paper, I could have the best year ahead of me,” he said, but added that it could become his worst year ever if flight and event cancellations began happening on a large scale.
Despite increasing concern from promoters and investors, Live Nation CEO and President Michael Rapino projected confidence during his company’s Feb. 27 earnings call, saying: “When you have a month, two months, anytime you cancel in advance, there’s actually no cost incurred yet; the artist isn’t at the show, the people aren’t in the venue, you haven’t paid the cost,” he said, explaining that “the show is not going away, it’s just moving to a different quarter.”
While that may be true in the case of Live Nation, a group of independent promoters and venues said after the cancellation of SXSW that they rely on revenue from successful events to cover operational costs.
"When large events such as SXSW or Coachella get canceled, it creates a ripple effect through the secondary and tertiary businesses throughout the live industry," Rev. Moose of boutique music marketing firm Marauder told Pollstar. "For independent venues and promoters that might already be financially vulnerable this can have a devastating impact. Communities around the world depend on these independently owned and operated businesses as not only a cultural hub, but as a means of refuge from everyday stresses. And these businesses aren't worried about stock prices, they're worried about being able to pay their rent, or their employees, or fulfill obligations to touring artists in even more vulnerable positions. "