Coachella Grosses $47 Million and What it Means to Indie Music

Boxscore has now come out with the numbers on Coachella 2012. This year’s Coachella had over 47 million in gross revenue with over 158,000 in attendance over the two weekends. It was interesting when Coachella made the announcement last Summer that Coachella would become a two weekend same lineup event many people in the blogosphere argued that it was a crazy idea and that the second weekend would fall entirely flat since most people would come the first weekend. I saw that risk at the time but still thought it was a brilliant experiment. Yet now, with almost 81,000 in attendance week 1 and almost 78,000 in attendance week 2, that concept was entirely proven to be false and Coachella was immense success. More importantly, for the purposes of independent artists, it points to the new crucial importance festivals and live shows play in a successful music career.

At last week’s New Music Seminar in New York City Sean Parker(creator of Napster) and other music business professionals discussed what they referred to as the fall of the record business and the rise of the music business. They essentially explained how twenty years ago, labels produced physical albums that could sell millions of copies and provide huge revenues for their affiliated artists. Today we are seeing a rise in the music business as a whole; there is still revenue from standard mechanical royalties and physical sales, but there is also now revenue from a variety of music distribution sites, licensing in other media such as commercials and movies, and of course live entertainment revenue, all of which are now becoming more important than ever. Distribution sites like and licensing music are vital, but the live entertainment revenue is also growing very quickly. Finally, I would add that performances at colleges and especially festivals are the best to get noticed because it is a soft ticket which allows you to perform in front of so many people. When I say soft ticket it means people are not going to hear a specific band but they are just going to the event regardless of the lineup. So for instance, the Roger Waters tour or any other tour that people buy a concert ticket for a particular artist it is a hard ticket, but for all the music festivals like Bonnaroo and Ultra Music Festival  which sells tickets before the line-up is announced these are people buying a soft ticket because they do not know who is playing but they know that great music will be there. So getting festivals and college gigs which are soft tickets are crucial for exposure. After all, when else other than giant music festivals like Coachella are you able to be exposed to over 150,000 music-obsessed people in a week and a half. It’s a very powerful thing for indie artists.


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