2019 is almost over. The festival season is surely winding down as well. I consider Austin City Limits as the last major festival of the year even though there’s still several smaller festivals in the weeks following ACL until the holidays. With the end of the year approaching, there’s only 2 months until announcements for the 2020 festival season begin (some like Okeechobee and Stagecoach already have), particularly like Coachella, the first major music festival of the year.
For the last 5 years, I’ve previewed Coachella consistently. As you might have already figured out, and if you didn’t already know, Coachella is my favorite music festival. It’s one of the reasons why I work in music. With that being said, I spent a good portion of last night talking with a coworker friend about potential Coachella 2020 artists. We discussed artists and bands who have dropped or have upcoming new music, who haven’t played Coachella in a while, and who we’d love to see at the festival next year. Playing major music festivals like Coachella also comes with one more component for bands and artists: the radius clause.
Based on some internet finds, what we know about Coachella’s radius clause is that between December 15th prior to Coachella until May 1st after Coachella acts cannot play any festival in North America and cannot play any “hard ticket” concerts in Southern California. In addition, they’re also not allowed to publicize any tour stops in California, Arizona, Oregon, or Washington until after the Coachella lineup is announced, publicize any performances at competing festivals in California, its bordering states, and Washington, or a headlining concert in Southern California, until May 8, or publicize any performances at competing festivals in the remainder of the United States again until the Coachella lineup is announced. Exceptions to this are the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, South by Southwest, and Ultra Music Festival as well as appearances at Las Vegas casinos, or tour stops in other parts of Nevada minus any Las Vegas festival appearances.
Coachella isn’t the only music festival that imposes these clauses. Most music festivals have some type of radius clause which includes major contenders like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and South by Southwest to name a few. However, Coachella’s clauses are notable as they made news for the 2018 lawsuit imposed by a smaller music festival called Soul’d Out in Oregon. The lawsuit has since been dismissed.
The radius clause was another thing we considered last night when discussing possible Coachella performers. I’m even realizing today the clause throws out Vampire Weekend as one of my Coachella hopefuls since they’re headlining Okeechobee in March. That is unless they negotiated around the clause. This is always a possibility for performers. Sometimes smaller acts get around the clause because it would hurt them financially to not play shows, but other times it’s not always smaller acts. In 2018, top-billed Coachella artist SZA headlined Buku, but her team most likely negotiated and she was given permission to do so. More often than not though, bands and artists abide by the rules. Adding Coachella to your resume is a big deal. It’s one of the most well-known, popular, largest, and most talked about music festivals in the United States, if not the world so playing the festival is always a special accomplishment no matter how many times you do it. The same goes for working and attending the festival!
In the coming weeks I’m sure headliner rumors will start popping up and there will be more speculation over who will play in Indio this spring. Regardless of the lineup, which since 2014 hasn’t entirely impressed me, I’ll be stoked and on high alert for a twitter notification with a new lineup poster come January 2nd. Coachella will always be special for me no matter who plays, but there’s no shame in getting excited for possibility!