The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival sent out an email last week informing fans that a big announcement would be made on their site Tuesday morning at 10am. I didn't think much of this, since around this time of year they usually announce which weekend the festival would be taking place the following year. Instead they made an announcement that in my opinion could dramatically change the concert industry for better and for worse.
The 2012 Coachella music fest will be taking place over two weekends in April. April 13-15th and April 20-22. That's six days of music! They're reasoning for doing this is due to the high demand of tickets previous years, they feel that enough people missed out that would justify them repeating the whole experience again. Goldenvoice may try and make it seem like they're appeasing their fans, but really this is a money issue. Coachella generates a huge amount of revenue and on top of the swarms of kiddies who feel entitled to Coachella, this would justify them trying to recreate the magic a second weekend.
That is my first complaint about the change, the "magic" of it all. Part of the allure of going to a music festival is that it's an entirely unique experience, it's the sense of having 'been there' that makes each Coachella unique and legendary. Now with a repeat weekend to compare to, will that diminish from its glory? Will the ability to compare and contrast weekends add or detract from its overall experience? Not to mention this is an absolute logistical nightmare for whomever is scheduling the bands. Since the promoters want to have identical weekends, will this dissuade some performers from wanting to stick around for both weekends? Not to mention that most bands schedule their tours around the big music festivals, and having to commit being at Coachella for an entire week might be a wrench in many artists' touring schedules. I also feel sorry for the lower-tier bands who are still trying to establish themselves in the industry. For these bands a festival like Coachella is a great opportunity for getting noticed, yet hotels are expensive and this change might be a financial burden for some artists. Also, what happens if they sell out both weekends at capacity? Then there's two identically packed weekends, then what was the use of making this change at all? If that happened the only people that would benefit would be the promoters stuffing their pockets with even more money.
However my biggest complaint about this switch is the potential consequences this change will have on the surrounding music scenes. Coachella, like other music festivals force their artists to sign an exclusivity contract preventing them from performing within a certain radius around Coachella to prevent conflict. It's purely a business move, but whenever Coachella comes around the LA scene is absolutely dead. The added weekend is going to result in more independent venues suffering for a longer period of time. This move must put independent venues around the country on edge, because if Coachella pulls off two successful weekends next year, you bet your bottom dollar other big name festivals will follow suit.
On the other hand, my biggest complaint about Coachella when I attended two years ago were the crowds. There were too many people in attendance for the facilities, which for some made the experience not worth it. Perhaps Goldenvoice's idea will go over smoothly and a greater amount of people will get to experience new and interesting music without feeling overly claustrophobic. If they achieve this then Coachella is a success and ultimately this change is a huge help to the independent music industry. Goldenvoice certainly has the infrastructure to pull this off, but it is a extremely risky move that could either be the dawn of a bright new chapter in music festival history, or the death of Coachella as we know it.