Coachella Bans Artists From Playing Half the Festivals Competing With Coachella

Coachella’s radius clause, which limits other places that artists on its lineup can play, is much more immense than we thought. Musicians performing at Coachella aren’t just barred from playing nearby festivals around the same timeframe – they’re not allowed to play any other festival in North America between December 15th and May 1st, according to new details surrounding a lawsuit filed against festival organizers.

In April, Oregon music festival Soul’d Out Productions sued Coachella alongside producers AEG Presents and Goldenvoice, claiming that its radius clause sets up an illegal monopoly. Soul’d Out had tried to book several acts for its Portland, Oregon show, including SZA and Daniel Caesar, but the musicians said they couldn’t accept because of the radius clause imposed upon them by Coachella – a festival that takes place in Indio, California more than 1,000 miles south – and Coachella denied the smaller festival’s requests for exception. “Such a clause has a substantial chilling effect on the market for music venues,” the lawsuit declared.

A civil complaint filed by promoters (obtained by Amplify) now reveals more specifics about the non-compete provisions of the festival’s radius clause. Per the legal note, artists cannot perform:

  • at any other North American festival from December 15th to May 1st
  • in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Ventura, or San Diego from December 15th to May 1st

In addition, they “shall not advertise, publicize or leak” any performance that interferes with Coachella’s marketing schedule. Artists cannot promote or talk about any “festival or themed event in the US” until after Coachella makes its lineup announcements, for example. They also are prohibited from talking about any other shows in the regional California area until May 7th, roughly one month after Coachella’s show. Lawyers for Coachella and AEG defend the policy as protection against competitors who might be “unfairly free-riding on its creative choices in selecting its artist lineup.”

According to concert promoters, radius clauses are standard practice for most festivals – but as more shows pop up each year, they’ve also grown in size and scope. “Radius clauses have definitely gotten more strict over the years, and more complicated,” Nick Storch, an agent for Artist Group International, tells Rolling Stone. “It’s not just competing in the geographical location – but also market share of who’s first to be talked about and who’s got the biggest lineup. They all have their specific radius clauses. [Artists] have to really read the fine print when you get an offer for a festival, just to be completely aware of what’s being asked of you.”

Though Coachella’s contracts with artists are largely private, Soul’d Out’s April complaint says that versions of the festival’s radius clause from previous years did not extend to areas as far as Oregon and Washington. Artists themselves, as expected, have been quiet so far about how radius clauses have affected their business; the increasing public buzz around the Coachella case, though, could stand to change that.

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